For many years I have debated with myself, whether or not to write this story. My blog is about humor during the days when pain is most on my mind. I have never been scared to do daring things in my life. If you truly know me, then you will agree with that statement. I do not mean to shock anyone or have you change your opinion of me, but why write a blog if you're not honest?.... So here goes:
When I was in my 40's I decided that I was going to take my first airplane ride ever and go to England alone. And I did. It was in the 90's A few years before 9/11 and things were more relaxed.
I bought a ticket to Manchester, England and made reservations at a Hotel for 4 nights. I planned to take the train from Manchester to Liverpool and go to the last day of The International Beatlefest. I was a Beatle fan from the age of 12. The first concert I ever went to was when I was 13 and I went to see the Beatles, and it changed my life.
The Beatlefest was a yearly event. There was also a Magical Mystery Tour bus with tours of the Beatles houses, schools and the Cavern Club where the Beatles first played. You could go down Matthew Street in Liverpool and go to all the Beatle related shops and get every kind of Beatle memorabilia possible. I was finally going to go. I was ecstatic!
I wanted to go to England since my teens so I still had visions of doing some things that maybe weren't ethical to some but would still be fun. Long before this trip I had put my hippie ways behind me and quit smoking weed. But here I was 20 years late and I always wanted to smoke a little pot and ride a train to Liverpool. So I made the decision to take enough for only about 3 or 4 puffs. I still thought it was worth the risk. I felt like I was 20 and still a hippie and still do to this day. I know it wasn't smart but I did it anyway. I took a fingertip only of smoke and hid it onto my body and was indeed nervous the whole time I was traveling to Manchester, England. I rode a plane to Newark, N.J. which was my first airplane ride and I sat by an art student named Stephen. He held my hand when he saw I was a little nervous. He was adorable. The plane ride was awesome from N.J. across the ocean to Manchester. I drank wine all the way there with some fantastic British people on the airplane who were returning home from the U.S. When I arrived in England it was 8 a.m. I forgot that the time was 7 hours ahead, so when I arrived early in the morning to England, I was slightly drunk. I did not usually drink and I got carried away drinking with the Brits on the plane, because we were having so much fun. I was standing in the airport looking for the EXIT sign when a female cop came up to me and asked me, "What was I looking for?" I told her the EXIT. She pointed to the sign that said WAY OUT and told me that all Americans were stupid." I felt so dumb, but she was a smart ass. I went and found a cab to take me to my hotel. I love the taxi's in England, so I enjoyed the super fast cab ride to my hotel that morning. I checked in eventually after a two hour wait. I felt awful by the time I checked in.
Finally I got to go to my room and I passed out for a long nap. That night I ate a huge BLT sandwich in my room and watched hilarious British comedies most of the night. The second night I went walking down the streets looking at everything. Walking to a store that had pizza, books, snacks and clothes. I also went walking in the heavy fog because it looked spooky. I didn't go far. I was thinking of Jack the Ripper and all kinds of things. I walked fast through the fog and late night and ran into the hotel. Whew! Scary but invigorating.
After I arrived back at the hotel I went downstairs to the pub and there was a group of men (old and a little scraggly) sitting at a table nearest the bar stools. They invited me to sit down and I did. They bought me a Budweiser and they asked me questions about where I was from. With their heavy accents plus a lot of beer, at times I didn't understand what they were saying but I never laughed so hard at them. I enjoyed their kindness and spirit so much. The bar was within the hotel and very safe. I stayed about an hour and then went back to my room to sleep.
The third morning I decided to take my few puffs of the secret stash I brought and go take that train ride to Liverpool. I was reliving my youth and I was celebrating MY DAYS of being a flower child in the 70's and eventually turning into a sweet older lady. (hee hee) Older ages can be boring and I was not going to let anyone stop me from living out my dreams! I didn't have a pipe of any kind so I crudely smoked it in a toilet paper roller and was feeling marvelous after the 4 puffs and then I was ready to take that train to Liverpool.
I took a cab to the Picadilly Train Station. The cab driver flirted all the way there with me and again I was very flattered because he was at least 20 years younger than me. I was feeling great and couldn't wait to ride the train. I made my way onto a train and across from me sat a small man holding a box with a huge padlock on it. He was from Pakistan he told me but now resided in Manchester. At one point the train went through a dark tunnel and only the dim lights inside the train were on and I must admit I was scared. He told me that he took tools back and forth from Manchester to Liverpool all day long and he kept glaring at me. I had a shoe in my big bag with a heavy heel and I was ready to pound him if he got near. Finally I had arrived. I was so glad to be in Liverpool. He and I were the only people in the train car I was riding in and I was a nervous wreck. His toolbox with that big lock was very suspicious. After I got off the train, I walked extremely fast to get out of the strange man's sight.
After arriving in Liverpool I walked to a gift shop to catch a ride on the Beatle tour bus.which I think It was the Magical Mystery Tour Bus. I rode a decked out Beatle bus with other tourists and listened to the tour guide and saw all the things I always wanted to see. Ringo Starr's home, John Lennon's home as well as George and Paul's childhood homes and even the home of their manager Brian Epstein. We went by their schools as well as Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. It was a dream come true. I even got to leave a note on the wall at Strawberry Fields in memory of John Lennon, as everyone else did.
I also got to drink a beer at the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles first played in their teens. After the tour, I went shopping at the Beatle shop on Matthew St. I bought some stuffed Beatle dolls and in the late afternoon I took the last train back to Manchester and go to my hotel. When I got on the return train, I was alone in the train car I stepped into. I was sitting there smiling to myself and reading Beatle books. I heard someone enter the car and was surprised to see it was the same creepy little man from the train ride in the morning on my ride to Liverpool. He said, "Oh I am happy it is you." I was wondering why he would say it like that. Again, he sat across from me and we are facing each other as we rode back to Manchester. He kept asking me questions about why I was in England, etc. I am the type of person that doesn't get scared often, but this guy was a creep and there was absolutely no one in the car and I couldn't understand why. There was never any train personnel in the cars I rode both times. I loved the ride itself, looking at the beautiful countryside. I enjoyed watching the names of the little communities go by as our train clicked down the tracks. It was such an experience that I will never forget. At that time I was so happy. The strange little man was making my dream train ride though an uncomfortable situation. Before we arrived, the little man with the "pad locked box" asked me-"Do you want to share a cab ride together?" My eyes bulged out and I said, No, I am waiting for a friend to pick me up." That WAS NOT true. Then he told me how we could both save money by sharing a cab. As we entered the train station, I got up quickly and hurried down the steps when the train stopped. I saw a row of taxi's (I love all the old black cars) siting around the curb. I walked fast and jumped in one because the little man was walking right behind me. I ducked down in the back of the cab and asked the driver to hurry and take off. He then told me that he "couldn't take me." I started to panic. I said, "Why?" He said that they had to go in order and he was about 7 cabs back. I told him I did not care and after negotiating he eventually took the chance and we left. I stayed bending down - so the other cabbies would not think he had a passenger. Often cabbies that do this, get harassed or even hit by other cab drivers (according to my driver) just for going before the cab in front of them. I gave him a 10 pound tip to make it worthwhile to him. I was having such a blast though. I was riding trains, meeting creepy little men with locked tool boxes, talking to British people everywhere, riding a Beatle tour bus, drinking a beer at the Cavern Club, eating beans and salad with warm tea, buying Beatle memorabilia and loving life!
When I arrived back at the motel in Manchester, I was in top spirits. I went into my room and I almost passed out as I stepped into my room. I felt like a teenager who was busted by their parents. There were two men that worked for the hotel in my room and they were vacuuming the floor, picking up trash, picking up clothes, apple peels, pizza boxes and a toilet paper roll with burn marks on it. I was so embarrassed. I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide. The night before I felt free. No one was with me, so I could run around in my room with nothing on if I wanted to. I could eat what I wanted and I didn't have to pick up after myself unless I wanted to. My room was a total mess.because I never expected the hotel to come clean my room when I was gone. My heart started to beat hard. As I stepped in and noticed all the things that had been dropped here and there were put away or gone. Luckily the 2 gentlemen, smiled a lot at me and were very friendly. I knew deep inside they were laughing and imagining what a lady my age was doing with all the stuff I had laying around. But I never had anyone say anything negative towards me. It seems I was the only one worried about it. England is a fantastic place and the people were the best thing about my trip.
After 4 days in England, it was almost time to leave. I was so sad. I wanted to stay. But I was so happy. I lived my fantasies that I thought about in my teens and 20's. I only had myself to please and rely on. I pulled all the weight for this trip - From planning - to buying and anything else that needed to be done.
With my hips being bad at the moment, I don't plan any return trips anytime soon. If I get things fixed, then who knows? It's alright even if I can't go back because I did get to go once and I will never regret taking that final step to make my dreams come true. Ahhhh, to be young and carefree again.