Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The fringe circus security problem....

I left my nice St Louis room at lunchtime on Thursday after a nice 2 day stay. I kind of wish I had done a  bit more in the city, but to be honest, during the day it was just too damn hot to do much at all. I did enjoy my short stay there though and the whole 16 days I have been travelling on this leg of my journey.

I will definitely be doing something similar again, next time I go away, as getting a car and travelling on my own timetable and seeing places I wouldn’t otherwise see, is a whole lot better than taking the Greyhound from one city centre to another.

For now though, I am back at ‘home’, in Winnipeg, with Buffy and doing stuff here. Before I get onto that though I have to tell you about getting back into Canada – again!

The flight from St Louis was nearly 2 hours late leaving and so when I arrived in Chicago, I expected to almost get straight onto my connecting flight – But that too was a couple of hours late, so I had a 3 hour layover and spent the time playing ‘guess the gate’, as the flight out changed from gate B10 to gate B11b, then to F11, F9, F5 and finally settled on F4. It was like some huge game of chess played by the airport controllers, using the passengers as pieces and was just ridiculous. Not only that, but almost every other flight was constantly changing gates too. If they just kept us at one gate, then the other flights wouldn’t have had to move either and the confusion emanating through the departure hall could have been controlled. I have never experienced anything like it. Every passenger had at least one occasion where they had to ask someone if the gate was correct. Even as we boarded our flight eventually, the screens were showing the wrong destination and at least two people were in the queue for the wrong place.
People at the airport were taking every available seat!!

Anyway, I finally arrived in Winnipeg just after 11pm after flying in looking down at an awesome lightning storm taking place below us. I sailed through the passport check – my paperwork was stamped and I collected my bags, thinking how nice it was that they now accepted my back into Canada – but I was sorely mistaken as I didn’t notice the red stamp on my paperwork and when I showed it to the exit staff I was directed towards the dreaded ‘red chairs’.

These are the chairs you sit in when the security staff have ‘further questions’, for you and so I waited and was finally called forward by a huge officer who I explained my situation to. He asked me a lot about Buffy before taking my passport and disappearing through a door and leaving me alone. It turns out he then went to the arrivals hall where Buffy was waiting and approached he asking who she was waiting for. She replied ‘Richard Davey’ and was then sat down and made to explain, in detail, everything about how we met, my financial situation and what was happening in our relationship. Finally after about 20 minutes he left her and returned to me. He asked for proof of my army pension and bank detail, so I had to go online and show him as much as I could find before he finally said that everything was in order and I was free to go.

But, he had lied to me as I went back to the exit officer and this time was directed towards the ‘blue chairs’. FFS!!

The blue chairs are where you go to when they want to check through your bags. I sat again for a while and was eventually called up to the desk and unpacked everything from my bags, onto the stainless steel table top. I explained why I had a tent, where I had been and after 15 minutes stuffed everything back inside and was finally allowed to pass through security and meet up with Buffster.  
By now it was gone midnight and so we grabbed a taxi instead of waiting for a bus and finally made it home just before 1am. It was bedtime and the end of a very long and tiring day.

I couldnt take photos but these examples show you exactly what happened to me..probably.

It should have been this easy....

I couldnt take photos, but this is like what happened...bags checked...

I was thrown to the floor....

...and tortured before I could enter Canada - honestly!! haha

Friday - Laundry and then the cinema with Buffy and Michael in the evening where we enjoyed the new Batman movie.
Saturday.  A weekend in Winnipeg. One of Buffy’s mates, Ben – has an apartment in town and has use of the adjacent hotel swimming pool, so being a hot day we accepted his offer of a pool party us and a few other mates spent a lovely couple of hours sat around a gloriously cool pool, while enjoying the sunshine and the views over the city. A really nice relaxing afternoon followed by another night out.

We had tickets for the Cirque de Soleil show which is in town. It’s called Quidam and much like most Cirque shows, is made up of stupendous circus performers performing amazing feats. There was the trapeze artists, silk climbers, gymnasts and a huge skipping set, where about 50 people do the most amazing things with bits of rope – plus the ‘clown’, who gets members of the audience up on stage and gets the biggest laughs of the night with them. Most of the time you wonder just what the hell is going on as all the time there are weird and wonderful things going on the background too, whether its people, floating above the stage or people slowly crossing the stage doing random things in the background. A great show though and as it was in the MTS centre I was doubly impressed as it’s the first time I have actually been inside to experience the atmosphere of the location of where the Jets play.
The Cirque de soleil stage

The pool view over Winnipeg

After Saturday night out we didn’t rest too much as this week is ‘Fringe Festival’, in Winnipeg. There are 170 different shows happening in about 20 venues ranging from tiny one man plays in front of a dozen people, to 300 or 400 person venues showing well known plays. We did three different shows on Sunday. One with a friend, Michael in it, called ‘Against the wall’, was a good start, before we went to see ‘Fresher’, a funny musical about British students going to University for the first time. Then after a couple of beers with Buffy’s friend Ian, we actually met up with one of the actors from ‘Fresher’, another friend of Buffy’s called Nelson and he joined us to go and see ‘Pretending things are a cock’. A one man comedy show about a bloke who travelled the world taking pictures of himself pretending things are a cock - obviously!! It was a really funny end to another good day.

Monday came along and I had a well deserved lie in. It was a hot day and I didn’t do much until the evening when me and Buffy were hosting this month’s Book Club meeting. There were 6 people who turned up this month and we spent a good 3 hours sat chatting not only about the book, but about all sorts of stuff and it was a fun night. We arranged a meeting for the sometime towards the end of next month and everyone finally left about 11.30pm.
The outdoor stage at the fringe

Weird ;performance art', a pan and some writing on her leg!

Ian waiting for a beer!

Some good stage action!

The start of 'Pretending things are a cock'.

In the morning we were up at 7am, as we had finally arranged to Skype with Gareth and Tracey– my brother and his wife, who we haven’t spoken to since they moved down to Australia a month ago. It was really nice to chat for a while and see that they are settling in well and really happy down there, so a good start to another day.

It’s been a busy few days since I got back to Winnipeg and we have done a lot of stuff. There hasn’t yet been an evening in doing nothing and there won’t be for the rest of the week as we have Quiz night tonight, more fringe shows to see and on Friday we head off to the cabin on the lake where we will finally, hopefully, get some rest!! 

I have just seen a great story of someone, who has surpassed everything I will ever do travelling. I hope you all take time to have a look at this because its a great story - It will only take you five minutes..


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