The Longest Day

Some people say there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Earlier this week, mine lasted 32 hours, beginning with a grand American breakfast (eggs sunnyside up) in downtown San Francisco, followed by a cable car ride up Nob Hill, clinging onto the outside which they’d never let you do in London.

A little shopping preceded a walk along the waterfront, staring out towards The Rock, otherwise known as Alcatraz, on which Jo Rowling’s Dementor-guarded prison of Azkaban was based. Her third title, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is many reader’s favourite so it was fitting to see it as I’ve spent a little of the past few days getting back to the third Johnny Mackintosh book.

The Science of SpyingGreat cities have great architecture and San Fran is no exception. There’s the landmark Transamerica Tower and, as you can see above, I managed to catch a glimpse of the unforgettable Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Mason Hill before heading back towards the hotel, having lunch (a pastrami and swiss sandwich even Joey Tribbiani would have been proud of), and then on to the airport, scene of my first ever full body scan where the security guards can see right through your clothes (I felt so sorry for mine!). We talked about these on The Science of Spying exhibition that I worked on, so it’s amazing to see them already in action.

On the plane it was a lamb curry, two disappointing films (Aliens in the Attic and the animated 9) and a chat with neighbour Katy who showed me photos of the prizewinning cats she breeds. She’s also a dog lover and there’s an Old English sheepdog in the family, so we talked about Bentley. To get over the poor movies I also re-watched the first half of the terrific Time Traveler’s Wife, which is a splendid adaption of a great but difficult book to bring to the screen. I could be wrong but the film seemed to die in the UK from a near total lack of publicity, after a very delayed global release. Some fans of the book weren’t keen on the casting, but Rachel McAdams is seriously underrated and always splendid and Eric Bana did a great job too.

Sadly, not much time for sleep, before leaping onto the Heathrow Express and heading for lovely London town – it’s always good to come home after some time away. One of the tricks to defeat jetlag is to stay awake as long as possible and not succumb to the thought of “a little lie down” which could turn into several hours and then you’re scuppered for the week. To keep me going, I had the prospect of the 30th Brit Awards Launch Party to look forward to, which was happily an early evening affair.

Arriving at the Dome, I confess I eschewed the red carpet, thinking I didn’t look quite my best having been up for more than 24 hours at this point. I’ve just started Tweeting (you can follow me @KeithMansfield) so had checked in on presenter @FearneCotton during the day. She’d suggested a choice of three outfits and people were sending their preferences. The power of the internet meant she picked blue. I bumped into her as I entered Indigo where the event was being held, but was a bit too jetlagged to twig and say hello. The next moment she was up on stage introducing 80s throwback synth singer La Roux.

Performances from JLS (X Factor runners up made good from a couple of years ago), Ellie Golding (winner of the most promising newcomer award) and Pixie Lott – the night could largely have been retitled “Here Come the Girls”. I’m sure everyone performed fine. Though I was struggling to stay awake by this stage, everyone was enthusiastically cheered on by the kids from the Brit School who were down at the front.

It’s the thirtieth anniversary of The Brits. For me the greatest ever was the night Sam Fox presented with Mick Fleetwood and it was total chaos, but the organizers prefer not to talk about that one. Sadly, a little self-indulgently, the award for “Best Live Act” has been dropped this year for “Best Performance at the Brits”. In an era when the industry is being devastated by illegal downloads, we’ve seen a great resurgence of live music and it seems short-sighted not to recognize this.

Even so, the Brits is the music award everyone wants to win (or even go to so it was great to have an invite). As if he doesn’t have enough on his mantelpiece, Robbie Williams is up for this year’s lifetime achievement gong. The main event is in Earl’s Court on 16th February.

By the time it had all finished, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going, got on the Tube in the wrong direction and spent about an hour stumbling around Canary Wharf  buying supplies I didn’t need before finding the way home, all ready for a 6.30am start for work the next day. I’ve survived the week relatively unscathed when it comes to jetlag, but confess to still feeling rather tired.

~ by keithmansfield on January 25, 2010.

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