Oh the places of England. We spent time in the downtown area of Birmingham. The Bullring I believe it was called. But I’m forgetting the trip to it. We caught the bus, not just any bus, a double decker bus! I’d never been in one before. So what did I do? I went straight to the top of course! Like a little kid, grabbed a seat in the front of the second story of the bus. Ever see the movieDead Poets Society? There’s a scene where the professor tells the students to stand atop the desk to gain a different view of the world. Well, riding atop a double decker bus is much like that. At least for me it was. Silly, I know.
The Bullring is a massive shopping complex complete with modern stores, an ancient church, buildings with unique designs, and an outdoor market. The outdoor market was very reminiscent of those I experienced in Oaxaca Mexico. Throngs of people everywhere all shopping and visiting. We decided to pop into an HMV music store. I was impressed by the sheer variety of music they had and with the way they lay out the store. Another thing I noticed was an entire area of the store dedicated to singles. No, not people without mates, but CD singles of music. Tons, and Tons of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing in the states. Thus you freely purchase about any current single on the charts right there on CD. I guess being an American we’ve been trained to think only about the full album/CD/LP and not the 45 or the more modern CD single. No wonder we have such an issue with downloading music. It opened my mind to the fact that I’d prefer to sell a whole bunch of singles in case anyone didn’t care for the whole album. That’s a benefit of iTunes for me right now. But when I release Practical Insanity I will make sure that I do singles of several of the songs.
We rode the train back. That way I got to experience as much of the English transportation system as I could. Getting a ticket was similar to getting a ticket for the Los Angeles Subway – nothing like a New York one. You’re free to get on the train without a ticket, but they have a conductor who comes along to check for tickets. If you don’t have one, then you’re bumming. The fine for not buying a ticket is £10 + the cost of the ticket. So it totals out to about $20 in the u.s. Whereas the one way ride is £2.30 (approximately $4 u.s.).
Later I made pizza for everyone. I’m kinda famous for my pizza making skills. So I decided to treat eveyrone to my version of American pizza for the hospitality I’ve been so graciously getting. To my delight everyone loved it! Then we took off for the dog track. Now mind you I’ve never been to any race track. But we were given complimentary tickets and went to make an evening of it. So I sat down to my first dog race and looked over the stats of the dogs. I couldn’t tell what any of it meant. So I did my best to decipher what I thought was important and made my pick. The lights went down and the little rabbit thing went round the track and off the dogs went. Interestingly, I remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs was at the dog track and playing with the motorized bunny. 🙂 Any way, I was watching the dogs going around and too my surprise… the dogs I picked to win were leading and in the order I picked them in! At the end of the race I was a winner. I’ve got to chalk it up to beginners luck as the dog that came in first was considered the worst dog in the heat. Go Figure.
Afterwards I was invited to my first official poker game. I went to a flat somewhere in the depths of Birmingham where there were a few blokes I had met over the previous couple of days. They were all in the throws of the game when we arrived. I got to buy in and start playing. Now again, I’m a complete beginner. I play a few hands and get into the swing of it. I won a few. In fact I won too much to be able to buy more chips at the last buy in. I kept playing and was happy that I wasn’t the first one out. Actually I lasted until the last five, then finally crapped out. That was the end of the evening.
More to come later… think London.