Travelling used to make me feel desperately lonely sometimes. When one is working it's fine, but once you get a day or two off to your own thoughts and devices, it can feel like you are a long way from anyone or anything comfortingly familiar.
When I first started travelling for work it was to be somewhere for 5 or 6 weeks and one would wait eagerly for the occasional letter from home. For those of you too young to know what a "letter" was, ask your parents. Letters would be devoured again and again and became like holy relics in which one would place one's trust that there was a way back home to the familiar.
Later, when I was with the Swingles and we were on the move to a new city almost every day, one relied on faxes (likewise, ask you parents) which seemed a miracle at the time. I remember on tour in Japan going to sleep every night hoping that I would be woken up at 5am by a call from the concierge to tell me that there was a fax waiting downstairs and padding down, my jeans and jumper over my pyjamas, to retrieve it. Those faxes are now faded and tissue-thin but represent a feeling and a time which I will never have again.
Now of course we are terribly spoiled - mobile phones, Internet, email, Facebook - there is no reason other than laziness or utter remoteness not to be in touch.
I must also be used to being on my own more and am, to be honest, a lot busier when I'm working as a Director than when I was a performer. I rarely feel lonely now, in fact I'm usually clamouring to get MORE time on my own rather than less.
Occasionally though you just need to touch something tangibly familiar.
I have been in France for two months now and am loving it. I feel very at home here, enjoy the lifestyle very much and (though my French is pretty dire) manage to communicate on a day to day basis relatively easily.
But today.....today I just needed more. A taste of home.
Now I can get baked beans, Yorkshire Tea, Marmite, in fact all of the major food groups (;-)) in the local supermarket. And to be fair, the food in Lyon is outstanding so one never need go short of something good to eat or somewhere lovely to be whilst doing so.
But today......today I really needed more!
I've always scoffed at the Irish Bars which have spread like measles to every major city in the world. I have never wanted to go into one. Why be in a wonderful foreign city with a whole world to explore and go to an Irish Pub?
But today.....today I gave in. Gave in to the warm embrace of a pint of Guinness, an Irish Breakfast (no I can't tell you what made it Irish per se) and a barman who spoke colloquial English. I can't tell you the joy. Thank you to the St James pub in Old Lyon, you bucked me up.
And thank you too to the miracle of Facebook, another modern trend at which, until 18 months ago, I scoffed. I posted the above picture and within minutes had several "likes". These little finger touches of contact with friends can be tremendously encouraging.
I didn't need to call anyone, I didn't need to talk, I didn't want company, I just needed to know people were there.
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