There's A Baby In The First Row!

Aaaaaagggghhhhhh !!! There´s a baby in the first row!

I love children! I am one and my brothers and my sister are all younger than me. Never mind that Mum was pregnant almost every Summer which meant I had to help her with stuff like peeling potatos instead of playing cricket or something with my mates and never mind that I don´t have any of my own (adoption out of the kindness of one´s heart and wallet doesn´t constitute parenthood!) ...

I love children, especially babies. I look at their tiny fingers and marvel at the fact that they will never have a problem with the black notes like I do.

But babies are very sensitive and the pressurisation of a modern aeroplane is painful for them so I don´t understand why so many young, new parents decide to take these complicated and delicate creatures on vacations that require flying. Never mind the fact that they have to carry push-chairs, blankets, toys and bags of formula (they carry more stuff than a modern tennis player actually!) and never mind that all this stuff has to be stowed somewhere or checked at the gate and never mind that the precious infant is going to scream its way to the destination ... it´s just a pain in the butt for everyone.

The check-in takes for ever, clearing a diaper-wearing creation through security is virtually a career and then there is us, the normal, fare-paying business traveller who does everything possible to avoid hassles when flying, in spite of the fact that the airlines hire consultants especially to find ways to hassle us and to extract more cash from us!

The parents seem so stressed (especially the mothers) and I actually heard one say that she went to the bathroom to get away from her uncomfortable and disruptive baby. Why have it in the first place? The arrival of a blessing as great as a child of your own (and I do wish I had one, or two, or three ... ) brings with it a new set of responsibilities, sacrifices and circumstances that will change your life for ever and you should be ready for that ... or use a condom!

Don´t bring a precious baby into a world of partial commitment and half-love. Learn, get ready, speak to your own parents about what you put them through and take some bloody responsibility! If you don´t want the responsibility that goes with parenting then don´t put yourself or the baby OR ME in that position!

They grow up!

What ever happened to teaching children to behave respectfully of others? Kicking footballs around in crowded airport terminals is as ignorant as break-dancing (how 20th century is that?) at the check-in counter and kids will get away with anything their "can´t be bothered" parents let them.

The airlines are profit motivated and that shouldn´t come as a surprise, but the amateur airlines are struggling to survive and will do anything, sacrifice anything (and anyone) so I will avoid them in future and use Business Class just so I can function as a normal, non-vacation traveller.

I apologize if I have offended anyone here but it is really irritating and I needed to get this off of my chest.

Day 1:

So ... I am on my way to Oslo to rehearse with Live Fire, before our festival season kicks off in The Czech Republic. We haven´t played together for a while so I wanted to spend a day with the guys and it was worth it!!

We found a cool venue, got the gear we needed, Sid thought it was the next day, the Hammond guy wanted a lot of money for not delivering the organ so we kind of stumbled through with what we had ... and it was good.

We got together afterwards for a burger and a beer, gave our dear friend Morten a copy of Love & Other Mysteries and then I found my way back to my hotel, The Rica Travel Hotel which still has smoking rooms!!

Day 2:

I decided to travel to Czech the next day while the guys came on the day of the show, something I don´t like doing, for a number of reasons.

Lea kindly met me at the airport and we started the 3-day drive into Prague (just kidding Lea!). We did a quick lunch and went to Radio Beat for a live interview. After Lea tried to demolish a garage wall with the front of her car we were settled and ready. Now she went to do what she does best which is interpret for me.

Then we drove to Loket where I was able to check in to my hotel, have a little dinner and rest a while.

Day 2:

As usual I didn´t sleep well at all but I made good use of the time and took a couple of siestas to make up for it. All the flights were fine and we met up safe and sound for the first show in Loket. Steve arrived first and he and I had time to catch up on business stuff before the band arrived.

Loket is famous for its castle as it was like the backdrop to the stage. Really cool! Our dressing room was in a bridge but, apart from that, things were relatively normal.

Sound check was okay, the venue was cool, all we needed was people. Usual routine ... lunch, siesta, shower ... and back to the venue which was packed!

I don´t know what it is but Live Fire keeps getting better and better. I will probably keep saying this, but, for now, I know we have something very special within this band. We totally rocked through our 90-minute set and everyone was on their feet, clapping, stomping, screaming, cheering. It was so great. We celebrated in the dressing room because we knew the hotel would be dead when we got back... And it was!

Day 3:

Today we had to drive a bit more than 400kms to Olomouc and we had to allow 6 hours to do it because of the roads. We had two vehicles and we stopped a couple of times so we were comfortable. When we arrived in Olomouc we went straight to the venue and just took a look around. It was sunny and everyone seemed in good spirits. The hotel was about 300 metres from the venue so that was really cool.

But ... no time for a siesta today! We had a schedule and I am a Virgo so I expected the schedule to be, well, the schedule! But it wasn´t and this buggered up my preparation time, vocal warm-up etc. and I made the fatal mistake of nibbling on things in the dressing room! As you know I don´t eat inside 3 hours before show time and I was about to be reminded of why.

The show was great (again!) and there was real reason to celebrate but I wasn´t feeling good at all. By about song number 5, the little munchies in the dressing room got stuck somewhere and I was very uncomfortable for much of the show.

By the Grace of God, I kept everything down until about 5 minutes after the encore when I paid the ultimate price for breaking one of my own rules.

No gory details though!!

Day 4:

Back home for everyone but not before we ran into just about every kind of travel BS you can imagine! I hate to harp on about these things but I do hope you who travel can perceive them as a warning or a piece of advice.

The band had to fly back to Oslo out of Katowice, Poland. We were told this was a 3-hour drive. Their flight was at 06:30 so they didn´t bother sleeping, just left in the un-air-conditioned van more or less straight after the show. As if that wasn´t bad enough, the driver managed to get lost numerous times. They did get there, paid the inevitable excess baggage charges to fly on Wizz Air (you already know how I feel about them).

When you look up flights to Oslo, it´s a bit like looking up flights to London ... they list 2 or 3 airports and some of them are nowhere near the city at all. This is a marketing ploy by the cheap airlines and on this occasion, the band arrived at Torp airport which is about 120 kms from Oslo!! By now they were not happy at all and I am actually surprised they didn´t all quit on the spot!

In life, I think it´s important, if you want to complain about a problem, to offer a possible solution and, in the case of this particular promoter, ours is to book our own travel and let him just pay for it. It will be that way or no way, because all of this could have been handled better. Even Steve could have had a more convenient flight if they had just looked and for only €35.00 more!

Of course this change meant that my gold card was worthless ... so much for As for me, my ticket said Air Berlin and I thought that would be fine but I had a problem checking in on line which was not normal at all. Well, when we got to the check-on desk at Vienna airport, we found out it was actually a Niki flight! (This is the airline owned by Niki Lauda, the former F1 world champion). It´s worth wondering why I wasn´t told about this but they are not going to admit the deceit are they? loyalty programs!

Then ... again for the first time, they weighed my carry-on bag and I was informed that it can only weigh a maximum of 6 kgs. How ridiculous is that? My bag would have to be practically empty but their plan is to get you to check more stuff, go over the weight limit and pay €20.00 per kilo (I am serious).

All I know is, if I signed a contract to play for 90 minutes and only played 60, I would be penalised. These people get away with this stuff all the time and it´s just plain wrong. Solution? Much more research at booking time!

We had had a great time in general but this kind of stuff really spoils things. But I was on my way home and thankful for that.

More soon ... This is a really busy time for me/us.

God bless,