As I begin this ditty I am ascending above the city of Manchester on my incredibly delayed flight to Lisbon Portugal to join the fabulous Celebrity Silhouette. The Flight was due in to Lisbon at 2pm latest and now at 3.15pm I have just left Manchester. This would not ordinarily be an enormous issue. However, I am scheduled to perform my shows tonight at 7pm and 9pm, I will not have time for a rehearsal even if I DO make the ship and to be quite honest I am a little pre occupied looking out of the aircraft window looking for passing pigs at altitude as to be honest, its much more likely I’ll see those than the Silhouette Theatre today.
Best case scenario the pilot makes up a little time, the captain agrees to hold the ship a little, my luggage is first off the belt, theres no queue for a taxi and rush hour in Lisbon has ceased to exist as theres some unexpected national holiday in Portugal today called the “everybody has to stay indoors and off the roads” holiday “with the exception of airport taxis” I however, am ever the optimist. Stranger things have happened at sea.
The alternative to the above outcome is that i do indeed miss the ship and try to catch it up in its next port of call in Cadiz tomorrow. Again, not necessarily a problem but that there are no flights that can get me from Lisbon to Cadiz in time to meet the ship tomorrow so i am left with one of two options.
Attempt to get a flight to another nearby airport, for example, Gibraltar or Malaga (last minute flights are v expensive) and then embark on an epic taxi ride to Cadiz tomorrow,
The more likely scenario… hire a rental car in Lisbon, drive 6 hours through the night in a country I have never driven in before, on the wrong side of the road, in an economy car that resembles a whistle and try to get to Cadiz without killing myself or any other innocent bystanders en route. This of course being a Jayne Curry travel blog, doubtless chaos of some form or other is about to ensue whilst I loll idly and helpless at 35,000ft, waiting for the universe (or more accurately the baggage handlers in Lisbon) to decide my fate……
On arrival in Lisbon I turned on my data roaming to find an email from the cruise director telling me that worst case scenario they would move my shows to 8.30pm and 10.30pm as me not making the ship was not an option really… there were no other guest entertainers onboard at present that could do a show in my place. So no pressure then, I had to make it. And the travel gods were well and truly on my side as I darted through passport control and lo and behold my bags were indeed the first off the belt. Buoyed by my fortitude I ran bounding into the arrivals hall, luggage piled high on the cart (I’m away for 13 days and doing four separate contracts in this time) and headed straight for the door. Apart from the wonky trolley that insisted that left was the only direction in which is was prepared to travel, I was hopeful of my chances of making the ship as my exit had been so expedient…until of course I saw the queue for the taxi rank. To exacerbate things further, the annoying guy from my flight who had asked me 100 questions during our delay at the airport whilst I was trying to write a letter to my Grandad was the last person in line for a taxi and at the risk of having to share a car with him… (he knew all but my inside leg measurement at this point.. what more could I tell him ???…plus he had a very untrustworthy hair style) I contemplated allowing the dodgy cart to take charge of the situation and take an anti clockwise tour around the pavement till someone interceded. However, time was of the essence so I had to just suck it up and in an attempt to abate him, I buried my head in my iPhone.
The line was progressing at a snails pace but eventually, after about 20 minutes I could ill afford and several fake phone calls to avoid chatting to ‘weird hair’ I made the front of the queue.
A placid looking, older lady with a tight curly perm got out of the car. She looked in her early 50’s and had a warm face and spoke great English. I offered to help her load my bags into the back of the taxi but she shook her head and with ease, tossed them in like she was a seasoned weigh lifter. I told her the address of the port (there are three in Lisbon) before explaining to her that I had very VERY little time to catch the ship before it left and that I was very stressed. I called my friend onboard, the guest relations manager Jon and told him I was doing everything I could to get there. he told me to call him when I was 5 minutes away and that he would meet me in the terminal building. I settled into my seat, clunk clicked the seat belt and waited patently for our taxi to be let out into the pending flow of traffic.
Well, if I had got into a formula one car, I couldn’t feasibly have been travelling any faster or have a driver with better manoeuvrability and speed. there was NOTHING my curly haired saviour wouldn’t attempt in order to get me to my destination on time. She took bus lanes, ran red lights, under took, over took.. the sheer G force of the journey rendered my seatbelt obsolete. I was pinned to the chair. Even more impressively, when she hit a small lane or two of crawling traffic she continued to edge her way aggressively making progress whilst simultaneously writing me a receipt for the trip. I thought for a minute she might be the ghost of Christmas past or something, arriving in my life and taking me for a flashback tour through my own history. It was surreal.
I have made the 20 minute journey from Lisbon airport to ‘Jardim Do Tobacco’ port many times over the years… but never in less than 10 minutes in rush hour.
The taxi screeched to a halt and my body building Mrs Doubtfire offloaded my bags with aplomb as two members of staff, Jon the guest relations manager and Dee the production manager ushered them inside. I ran around to the drivers window of the cab and pushed a tip through the window.
“You are without a shadow of a doubt the best taxi driver in all of Europe” I proffered.
She smiled at me.. winked, and sped off to the exit of the car park leaving a trail of dust and mania in her wake.
“Hurry Jayne” shouted Dee. “you’re on at 7pm.”
“What????!!!!” I replied, startled and unconvinced by her statement. The cruise director had told me after all, that he had moved the show times.
“I thought I was on at 8.30pm now?”
“No No.” she answered, “When you told Damien you were happy enough to do the show without a rehearsal he decided to leave the showtimes as they were so as not to confuse the guests unnecessarily”
“But the poor drummer…” I offered. “He has never played the show before! He has never even seen the music!”
I started to panic a bit.
“will he be ok??” I asked.
“The bass player had recorded your show on your last trip here They have been rehearsing with him in the dressing room to the playback of the show. I think he’ll be fine. He’s a good sight-reader’
Temporarily appeased I asked “well what time is it now?”
“Six forty Five.” Dee said. “you’re on stage in 15 minutes”
I felt the colour drain from my own face and after the initial shock of the situation I thought to myself that I could look at the situation one of two ways.
I could either allow the rising sensation of panic to absorb me and therefore it would be highly unlikely that I would be able to use what little time I had to prepare in an affective way at all …or….
I could apologise to Dee in advance as we dragged the suitcases at speed through the halls of the ship…for the calamitous mess I was about to make of her backstage area and promise to rectify it between shows.
In fifteen minutes I dug out my stagewear, piled a layer of makeup on top of what I was already wearing, applied a set of fake eye lashes, got changed, back combed the roots of my hair and applied almost an entire can of hairspray to it and covered myself in talcum powder to attempt to help with the profuse sweating which had now begun to occur as a combined result of sprinting with luggage and the impending realisation of what was about to happen.
At 6.58pm I hurtled into the wings of the theatre to be greeted by the cruise director and Dee. We took one look at each other and burst into a fit of laughter. The whole situation was a little ridiculous, a lot stressful but certainly funny and at 7pm on the nose I was introduced on stage and I performed my first of the two shows I was scheduled for that evening.
Needless to say when I eventually hit the hay somewhat later that night my body was well and truly telling me that it was less than happy with how I had treated it that day. I ached everywhere.. it was an effort to even roll over in bed so I just closed my eyes and allowed myself to descend into the long awaited slumber that would hopefully heal me of the woes of the day.
I was only scheduled to spend two nights on the Silhouette before disembarking in Gibraltar and making my way to Malaga to join the Eclipse the same day. For those of you that have never been to Gibraltar, Spanish Law prohibits taxi’s from Gibraltar crossing the border into Spain so today consisted of disembarking the ship, taking a taxi to the border, dragging my luggage through customs at the border and finding another taxi to take me from the border to Malaga, some 90 minute drive away. The driver spoke very little English but was a personable friendly chap and we bonded over our mutual love for music. I managed to ascertain that he had a playlist of over 1000 songs in his car and that we shared a lot of the same tastes. As each track ended and another one started he looked at me through his rear view mirror for my approval. After twenty minutes I was shuffling along in the seat to Donna Summer, David Bowie, Billy Joel, Abba, Hall and Oates, Irene Cara… it was epic. It set me up for the day, put me in an awesome mood and though I shouldn’t think I’d ever need it in my line of work, it just went to prove that music really and truly is an international language (and that I really should try and learn more Spanish…) Mind you…two thumbs up seems to work for me wherever I go!