Flying

I’m back from London with a serious sense of momentum.

Last I blogged, I was stuck in a comically crappy bed & breakfast, a 20-minute walk from the last station on the Underground line. Things got better after that. Much better. I have my friend Chris to thank, who left such a good impression at the London School of Economics that I spent the next night quaffing wine and gnawing on roasted pheasant. (Freshly shot by a retired army general, the flesh harboured lead pellets that tasted of tweed and good breeding.)  My feather duvet that night was printed with a Beatrix Potter motif.

Quintessentially English as the setting may have been, my host turned out to be from East Van. It was a joy to dine so far from home with a man whose beard, tattoos, and deadpan Canadian accent so mirrored my own. Adam lives in London with his lovely partner Jess, and met Chris at LSE through the strenuous recommendations of Tony Blair and the Libyan ambassador. Just kidding.

In the morning, I met Matt at Euston station and hopped on the train to Manchester. Carrying croissants and coffee, we sat down at the last available table next to a dapper older gentleman and his kind-eyed wife.

Clearly there is something in the water in Manchester.

We had been sitting only a short while when an excited passenger ran up and asked to take a picture. It turns out we had elbowed our way in next to Sir Robert Charlton and his wife of half a century, Norma. Bobby Charlton, as train staff informed me, is the most famous football player in British history. Star of the 1966 World Cup-winning English side, he has scored more goals for his country than any man alive or dead. Since surviving the Munich air disaster of 1958, he’s played more games than anyone else in Manchester United history. A fine conversationalist and a gracious fellow traveller, Sir Bobby agreed to a cameo in the forthcoming Renaissance Man: Part 2.

Figures from the past

In Manchester we met with Matt’s old headmaster, and visited the village of Haughton Green where Matt grew up. He hadn’t been back in 26 years, but we found the field where he first learned to ride a motorcycle, and the post office where he used to buy sweets. Perhaps it’s the gummy bears now giving him strength. Or the gigantic English breakfast we consumed (a personal highlight).

Back in London, I interviewed Klaus Jacobsen – who built five of Matt’s lutes, and Jonathan Freeman-Attwood – who auditioned Matt for the Royal Academy of Music. Both are fascinating individuals. I think you’ll find they contribute a great deal to the documentary.

I don’t know how I found time to sit in on the Tyee’s Reeled In panel – oh yeah, because it ran from 1:30 to 4 in the damn morning. Tiring, but it was worth it. The upshot is the Tyee now has a video section, which sets my head spinning in all sorts of exciting directions.

Yesterday I woke up in London, a little worse for the sloe gin, and hopped on an 11-hour flight. It didn’t feel that long. I was busy getting me some inspiration. Yes, HBO’s Game of Thrones is awesome, but you really have to check out the documentary Hell and Back Again. Stop, click on that link, and watch the trailer.

Jaw-dropping, right? I’ve wanted to see it since I heard Brent Bambury interview the filmmaker on Q back in May. That was shot on a Canon 5D, the cousin of the DSLR we’ve been using in California. That’s one guy shooting solo, on a camera worth less than some people’s washing machines. And he won the friggin cinematography prize at Sundance!  Danfung Dennis is officially one of my new half-Asian film heroes, alongside Ryan Koo of NoFilmSchool.com. Revealing tidbit: before going into photojournalism, Dennis majored in Applied Economics.

Go big or go home time

Matt and I landed in California at 0100 GMT. Does this look like a jet-lagged lute player who’s spent the last two weeks eating British food?

I’m back on the West Coast, where I can say these things without being laughed at: I’m stoked. My brah Evan Crowe lands at LAX tomorrow. The next two weeks are gonna be gnar. Matt is putting the hammer down for real now. He’s locked in December 14th for the record attempt.

"It's gonna take some magic."

When all is said and done, we road trip home and spend the holidays drinking eggnog and rocking Final Cut. We drop a couple side projects I think you’ll like. We reflect and take stock. Then we see what’s what.

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7 comments
  1. Stewart said:

    Being from Manchester and a Man Utd fan, Sir Bobby is my all time hero…

    Was the British food really that bad? 😛

    • Nah, we mostly had curries, kebabs, samosas, bifana sandwiches …

  2. Kesia said:

    Kai! My sauerkrauts are singing! They do this little high pitched whistling noise, I guess from the pressure created in the jars; I thought the neighbour was boiling water for tea over and over and over again and I was getting angry, but I figured out it was the song of the lactobacilli, so now it’s okay! I just thought you should know! Also I’m glad you’re a little closer to home and that you’re feeling good and that things are one track! I love you!

    K.

    • I … regret to inform you of the demise of a certain kombucha. After a couple weeks of frosty neglect, it smells like socks. Probably wouldn’t have made it back through customs though, in its expanded state.

      • Kesia said:

        I thought that might happen. Give her a proper desert burial (burning on a pyre? left out for the hyenas?) and say your goodbyes…

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