The Wig & Pen Tour

(To avoid the dreaded “end of tour recap” or my way-too-often-used “sorry I’ve been too busy to post” post, I decided to write something short and artless every couple of days on this trip. We’ll see how that works)

wig & pen

We made it to the airport easily on Sunday with the help of our friends Emily & Will, who were kind enough to keep our van in their garage and help us lug four guitars and three heavily-loaded suitcases to Newark (not heavy on the clothes, but vinyl and CDs we are hoping to spread across the UK).

The flight to Heathrow was short and not so bad, except for the woman seated behind me who rolfed and Shiatsu-ed me constantly throughout the flight by lodging either her knees or a collection of sharp objects in the seat pocket in front of her. Every time I whirled around to confront her, she appeared to be passed out or in a coma.

I made it through immigration okay – it’s a lot easier going into England with a legit work permit than pretending to be merely “visiting friends and family”, but I still sweat while they scrutinize everything. The agent asked very drily “What kind of music do you play?” and the question held a challenge. I wanted to answer him in the most successful way possible, the way that would not create any questions or doubts in his mind. “Folk and country” seemed the most benign, and I guess it worked because I was soon joining Eric at the mound of luggage.

At the car rental place, we were the only people in the queue, and so approached the counter. A man with an orange combover and green Europcar vest asked “Have you taken a number?” and indicated the machine back by the front door.

“But there’s nobody else wait-” I started to say but he shook his head and waved us over to the number machine. We pressed the button and number 42 popped out. We stood back in line.

“Number 42!” he shouted, without irony. After many hopeful years of visiting England, I was finally in a Monty Python skit.

Neptunes Cottage

Once in the rental car, we turned on our old GPS and the deep, familiar voice of old trusted friend “Tim” made me feel right at home. Eric drove – I have yet to attempt left-hand drive in a manual car…someday! For now it’s luxurious to be driven around, my job is reading articles from the Guardian out loud. “We were all Justin Bieber fans and now we hate him” was today’s winning headline. That one article stretched out for a good hour or so, as I tried to explain Justin Bieber to Eric. “And this chap’s named Beaver?” “No, Bieber.” “Never heard of him. How many ‘its ‘as ‘e ‘ad?” he said, paying tribute to Reg Presley who once referred to Eric in the same fashion.

margate cafe

We tripped around Margate with our pal Andy, and I got a nice boost out of my jet lag seeing the painting I’d done of “Tropical Fish” on his mantelpiece.

lou & tropical fish

Now we’re in Manchester in the fancy new BBC studios, getting ready to play on the air. We got all our equipmment here intact but left our UK mobile phone back in Margate. All we have to do is stay awake another half an hour and we’ll be live on nationwide radio with Marc Riley. We’re on the road and at home – what can go wrong?

12 thoughts on “The Wig & Pen Tour

  1. Grahame

    Amy, don’t you go through passport control with Eric? We’ve always gone together through the UK queue in the UK, and the US line (see what I did there?) in the US. It’s the benefit of marrying a foreigner. They’ve never even blinked at it.
    Coming into the UK particularly (since it’s usually Heathrow for us) is way quicker if you do that.

    1. amyrigby

      Do you guys go to the UK to work Grahame? They told me I needed a work permit, even though Eric and I are married, and used to give me a hard time coming in at Calais, which I think led to my passport being “flagged”. But I would definitely love to give it a try, to at least come through the UK passport holders line (as Eric is now allowed to come through US passport holders line in NY, but he does have a green card). let me know how you’ve worked it out!

      1. Grahame

        We are in the same situation as you two – one USC, one green card. I’m sure you would need a work permit – when we go we usually act casual and say nothing as far as work, so far so good – but permit or no, I believe you’d be safe going through UK passport control together, on the basis that you’re ‘keeping the family together’. As I say, they’ve never taken a second glance at us. Maybe because they can see we come over regularly and always return on time? Worst they would do is send you over to the other queue.

  2. Daedalus

    The picture of Neptune’s Cottage is interesting. The black stuff in the wall is flint. They use it a lot for building walls in Kent and Sussex. It comes free with all the chalk that makes up the hills. If you’re from the north of England like me, visiting down there and seeing all these black nodules everywhere for the first time is a bit surprising. Trees, check. Grass, check. Nettles, ouch. Black stuff – what?

  3. Christopher Johnstone

    Hi
    Saw you at Stereo in Glasgow on Thursday night. You were both brilliant, what a great set. Loved Airplane and Jack and Jill. It so good to see you two together. I saw Wreckless in 1977 in St Andrews with Sqeeze, followed through Stiff and A Dysfunctional Life and Bungalow Hi. Then saw you in the old porno club when you first got it together. It so great to see you both on stage, I smiled all through the gig and Do You Remember That? was the brilliant, it would bring a tear to a glass eye.
    Please come back to Glasgow soon
    Chris

  4. amyrigby

    Thanks Grahame, will try the UK line next time. You’d think someone would mention that Eric and I can go through together, but the Heathrow agents are famous for being unhelpful (I think they tried to improve things around the time of the Olympics)

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