Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Do You Know the Way to Santa Fe

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Teddy Tedaloo arrives in New Mexico

I’ve crisscrossed North America so many times they might as well invite me to join the cast of Top Gear! Even on a bad day, I’m a damned sight better looking than Chris Evans. But has the BBC been chasing after me to offer me a shed-load of dosh to be on the programme? Despite the fact that Mr. Evans has up and quit on them, no, they have not.

So where exactly does that leave me?

To embark upon my peregrinations with my trusty celebrity sidekick author bear, Teddy Tedaloo (who’s also a damned sight better looking than Chris Evans on ANY day)!

Checking out the local real estate

Checking out the local real estate

Our latest road trip was initially supposed to be a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico for fun, food, friends and relaxation, along with an author appearance thrown in to promote Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)the latest novel in our cosy mystery series The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles. But you know how things can snowball, especially when you figure that since you’re driving all that distance anyway, what’s another err… few thousand miles? So like a rock band on tour, off we went, minus the drugs!

And it’s a good thing we didn’t have any questionable substances with us, especially after what they did to us at the Canadian border crossing.

Hanging out with Teddy Tedaloo in Vancouver

Hanging out with Teddy Tedaloo in Vancouver

Of course, we expected to have a few adventures on our road trip, but being detained and cross-examined at Canadian border patrol for more than two hours and having the car (along with all our luggage) searched wasn’t exactly high up on the list. The only thing missing from the scenario was the snap of a latex glove. The huge haul of contraband they were able to come up with included a note with the address of a Squamish bank written on it (so I could withdraw money from the ATM, like duh); a pair of paper booties; a pillow; and one of those thermal cover things I keep in the boot for an emergency in case I run into Chuck, Jimmy McGill’s (aka Saul Goodman) brother, who suffers from a case of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. The border control officers grudgingly let us leave when they ran out of excuses to keep us there (apparently I’d even been Googled, along with Teddy), causing us to get caught up in late afternoon Vancouver traffic and missing lunch. Good thing I don’t suffer from hypoglycemia or I’d have been a goner.

Can you imagine – no more books written by yours truly? Do you even want to imagine it?

Okay, don’t answer that.

In case you didn’t make it to our Santa Fe gig or else were too cheap to spring for the airfare, here’s a filmed highlight from it. See how much money I’ve saved you? I hope you remember that next time you’re shopping for a book to read from Amazon or your other favourite bookseller!

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Mitzi and Teddy Hit Montreal, Eh?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013
Teddy Tedaloo tries the famous smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's

Teddy Tedaloo tries the famous smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s

Right, that’s it – I’m moving! I’ve been to a lot of cities (and I’ve lived in a lot of cities), and I will say this: if you like food – good food – and food from every conceivable place on the planet, you’ve got to be in Montreal. If you want someone to cook it, you’ll find a restaurant that has it. If you want to cook it yourself, you’ll find a supermarket that has anything you’d ever want or need – and you don’t have to go broke to get it either.

Alas, poor Yorick!

Alas, poor Yorick!

After all this high praise, I’ll be polite and not discuss the Quebec drivers. I think someone must’ve really got on the wrong side of these guys.

I’ll also be polite and not bang on about the traffic jams or the endless road construction or the collapsing overpasses. (You didn’t hear any of this from me, you got it?)

But hey, Montreal has mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron! In fact, we even ran into him (though not with our car). It felt as if we were meeting an old mate, what with his mug being plastered on every street corner in the city. Oy, and what a mug! Now I ask you – would you buy a used Chevy from this man?

Dodgy mayoral candidate for Montreal

Dodgy mayoral candidate for Montreal

Mind you, I’m thinking I should have a chat avec Monsieur Bergeron about the complete load of bollocks I was given crossing the Canadian border. I must have been saddled with a seriously bored border control agent, since he appeared to want to hang about and chew the fat with me all afternoon, grilling me about everything from who my friends in Montreal were to who owned the vehicle I was driving. (You’d have thought I was the driver who had an arm dangling from the rear of the car!) Heck, I’m surprised the guy didn’t ask what brand of antiperspirant I use! I notice he didn’t ask my famous bear Teddy Tedaloo any questions. Like, what’s up with that, eh?

It was all I could do to keep our Ted from biting him. (I have no idea what the penalty is in Canada for bears biting border service agents, and I didn’t wish to find out.) All I can say is, if you lot want tourist dollars to be spent in your country (or province), this is definitely not the way to go about it. And here I thought it was the American border agents who go all John Wayne on you when it comes to entering the country. Oddly enough, I had a very warm welcome on the way back when crossing into New York. Maybe the fellow was a fan of mine. He did address me by my first name as if he knew me.

I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t heading up to Canada for the book launch of my new novel The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray. Can you imagine the panic that would have ensued at the border crossing? I mean, the book hasn’t even been published yet! (That doesn’t mean you can’t pre-order it from Amazon – so what are you waiting for?) I’d have been taking my life in my hands if I hadn’t come armed (maybe “armed” isn’t the right word to use in this context) with an autographed copy for the border services agent. Hey, maybe that was his problem – I didn’t give him a free book! You’d be amazed by how weird people can get when they meet an author and aren’t given freebies.

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo high above Montreal

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo high above Montreal

Anyway, it’s not me who’s important here.

Teddy Tedaloo at Musee des Beaux Arts

Teddy Tedaloo at Musee des Beaux Arts

The official star of the show was Teddy Tedaloo, whom everyone was expecting. Our official Quebec hosts in the section of Montreal known as “Peter’s Bottom” (I’m not even going to try to explain this) were initially his friends, not mine. In fact, our host was a fluffy white cockapoo with a penchant for raising his hind leg whenever it suited him. He and Teddy got on like a house on fire. Mind you, everyone gets on with Teddy like a house on fire. Even a trip to the Musee des Beaux Arts was filled with members of the Teddy Tedaloo Admiration Society. One of the security guards insisted upon a formal introduction, offering Ted a hearty handshake along with the compliment that it was good to see a bear who appreciated fine art.

As for me, no one was really that bothered save for my new best friend at border control. Having said that, if he’s reading this, he’d better not be expecting a free autographed copy of my new book any time soon!

As for Montreal, I can’t wait to return and get cracking with some serious eating!

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Is it Illegal to Transport a Lizard Across State Lines?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Yes, it’s a serious question. For one thing, I don’t know if he was underage. For another, well… I’m not entirely certain the lizard in question was fully consenting to the act. I mean, in some states you can go to jail for this kind of thing!

You see, the other day I discovered a lizard lurking outside my front door. When I shooed him away, he gazed up at me with such a woebegone expression of embarrassment and chagrin that I now wish I’d been a bit kinder and invited him in for a glass of wine and some cheese or at least a cuppa.

Anyway, I forgot all about him until I went to Chattanooga, Tennessee with the famous Teddy Tedaloo to meet up with a mate of his from “opp north” in England. Pints were on the agenda, and I was already running late. I was driving around the downtown area frantically trying to find my destination when suddenly I saw a familiar face staring in at me through the windscreen. Yup. It was my would-be intruder from the front door. Apparently he’d been there all the time, taking a nice leisurely snooze in that thingie where the windscreen wipers live (probably staying nice and cozy in a bed of decaying autumn leaves).

So there I was, zooming up and down the streets of Chattanooga with the little chappie clinging onto the hood for dear life. I finally parked near to my destination, at which point he scrambled down the hood of the car. And that’s the last I saw of him.

Teddy Tedaloo tying one on with his mate Ethan

Teddy Tedaloo tying one on with his mate Ethan

A pint of microbrew later (or its American equivalent, which is by no means a proper pint) and I’d forgotten all about the lizard. You can forget a lot of things when you go out drinking with bears. You should try it sometime.

It’s now been a couple of weeks since the event and frankly, I’m worried about the little guy. My dislike of his less-charming brethren is well known, having been honed and refined from spending time in South Florida and having the local versions sneaking into the house every chance they got, either to end up in the shower with me or to die behind a piece of furniture, leaving me to discover their mummified remains. But this hitchhiker… Okay. I’ve been won over. Slightly.

I can’t help but wonder if this creature that bears a tenuous resemblance to a dragon (minus the fiery snout) was hoping for a signed copy of my new anthology Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire when he’d first appeared at my front door. I mean, it’s possible. He might have heard there are some dragons in the book and figured he might know one of them. And if you think that’s far-fetched, is it any more so than a lizard hitching a ride across state lines? I’ve come to accept and embrace the far-fetched. Indeed, the more far-fetched the better! Ask anyone who knows me: I thrive on far-fetched.

Missing lizard last seen in the vicinity of downtown Chattanooga. Any information, please call Crimestoppers.

Missing lizard last seen in the vicinity of downtown Chattanooga. Any information, please call Crimestoppers.

I can only assume that Mr. Lizard is now happily ensconced in Chattanooga, Tennessee embarking upon new and exciting adventures and making new friends. I hope so anyway, because I feel quite bad about it and am not ashamed to admit that I worry about his fate in “the big city.”

Of course it’s also possible that he returned to his hiding place by the windscreen wipers and drove right back with me to where he’d begun. Why, he might be lurking outside my front door at this very moment, hoping for another opportunity to be invited inside for that wine and cheese. If not, I hope he’s enjoying life in Chattanooga because frankly, I kinda miss him.

 

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A Night Out with the Homies on Hollywood Boulevard

Monday, July 11th, 2011
Mitzi Szereto with homies Vicki Hendricks and Teddy Tedaloo

Mitzi Szereto with homies Vicki Hendricks and Teddy Tedaloo

I bet you were thinking Tinseltown. Well, you don’t need to go to California to have a surreal night out. Or perhaps it’s just me. The surreal tends to attach itself to me like stepping in a piece of freshly chewed gum on the sidewalk. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get it off the sole of your shoe.

That’s what happened on a recent sweltering summer evening out in Hollywood (Florida, that is) with my noir author friend Vicki Hendricks and my famous sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. No, there wasn’t any chewing gum, but there was plenty of weirdness packed into a few hours.

Teddy Tedaloo discovers margaritas

Teddy Tedaloo discovers margaritas

It all began with the margaritas (yeah, blame the booze, right?). You see, Ted’s never tried them before, being a real ale bear and all. I must say he was definitely on his best behaviour, unlike some of his more infamous  behaviour in certain British pubs (one of which involved a brawl with a monkey). Our trio sucked up those margaritas in a flash, feeling no pain. Summer in South Florida is excruciatingly hot – you gotta do something to ease the pain.

After chowing down on Mexican food (to help soak up the margaritas), we happened on this curious little place that offered “bubble tea” and an evening of open mic. As we deliberated over whether or not to go in, we sort of got railroaded by some old beat poet dude, who no doubt wanted to pack the audience with some friendly faces. I made the mistake of joking that maybe I should do a reading from my new book Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts and that was it: he insisted we come in. The place seemed to have lots of guys there, none of whom looked like the kind of guys who go to poetry nights in little clubs that serve bubble tea.

We sat on some high sofa thingie and perused the menu, trying to figure out which flavours of bubble tea we wanted. The poet was by this time in full swing, and we weren’t even able to catch our breath and flag down the tea guy before some comedian took over. I must confess that I’ve been away from America for many years now and his humour was pretty much lost on me. He did a lot of “short guy” humour, since he was short. Mind you, I was never one for American humour or comedians, save for The Marx Brothers and Jackie Mason. Therefore it was a relief to me when he finished.

Teddy Tedaloo meets a local belly dancer

Teddy Tedaloo meets a local belly dancer

We never did get our bubble tea. (I should add that we went to this place a year ago and never got our bubble tea then either.) Instead we discreetly sneaked out of the joint, deciding to head to this kava place near where we parked the car. We got waylaid along the way by a belly dancer, at which point Ted insisted on being photographed with her to make all his mates on Facebook jealous. The lass must have been quite taken with him, since I later found a slip of paper with a phone number on it in the pocket of his trousers.

Like the bubble tea place, we didn’t expect the kava joint to still be in business since the last time we’d popped in. But there they were, empty, but there, save for some guy playing chess with what appeared to be a woman in a burka or one of Papa Lazarou‘s gypsy wives – I couldn’t tell in the mood lighting. The kava bartender was smoking something that smelled mighty familiar, and when I made a comment about the smell, he said it was sage. Yeah, right, pull the other one, mate! When we inquired about the kava, he launched into a rapid-fire spiel about the merits of the stuff, but said we shouldn’t try it because we’d been drinking. I’d only had one margarita, but I’m telling you this: he sounded exactly like Dan Aykroyd in the film “Dragnet.” (Cue the virgin Connie Swail.)

With the kava now nipped in the bud by Mr. Aykroyd, we decided to take advantage of the chair massage on offer by the resident chair massage girl. The fact that it had started to piss down with rain didn’t make us too inclined to head back outside either. Ted, however, decided to decline the massage, as he didn’t want to get oil on his fur. He was having enough misery with the South Florida heat and humidity, as was I. Can’t say I blamed him for opting out. Frankly, I don’t know how any sane person (or bear) would voluntarily live in this climate.

As for our surreal night out in Hollywood, it came to a pleasant end, with both Vicki and myself feeling slightly more relaxed from the massage. Heck, we’ll probably do it all again next year – and hopefully remember not to drink so we can finally try that kava. Well, that’s if they’re still in business next year. You just never know these days.

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Bats in the Belfry (A Date with Colin Farrell)

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo take over Belgium

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo take over Belgium

Belgium. It evokes many things: chocolate, waffles, beer, the EU, Colin Farrell

Yes, I said Colin Farrell. If you’ve seen the Irish gangster film “In Bruges” you’ll know what I’m talking about. Oh, and by the way, don’t use the French “Bruges.” Use the Dutch “Brugge” – unless you want to piss off the Dutch-speaking majority around these parts. The filmmakers either didn’t know this or, considering the derogatory comments made about the city by the characters in the film, clearly didn’t care!

So why Brugge? Why not Brugge? I mean, Paris is just sooo yesterday. Everyone goes to Paris. Brugge is smaller and more manageable, and so much cleaner. In fact, it’s one of the cleanest and tidiest places I’ve ever been. Only in Brugge would I run into some random woman from Texas whose name also happened to be Mitzi. Only in Brugge would the captain of our canal boat ask if Teddy needed a seat belt. Only in Brugge would we be given garlic bread by a couple from Oxford. You just can’t get this in Paris!

Teddy Tedaloo at the pump

Teddy Tedaloo at the pump

Okay, enough propaganda. The real reason we went to Brugge (and Belgium in general) was for the Kriek (cherry beer). Being an ignorant foreigner, I figured Kriek was Kriek. Was I ever wrong. There are many kinds of Kriek, and they vary in taste and quality. I have it on expert authority (a local) that the best Kriek is Lindemans or Liefmans, the latter of which Ted and I enjoyed tremendously at an authentic Belgian pub in Brugge (one of those hard-to-find places that wasn’t heaving with tourists).

Brugge as seen from the top of the Belfry

Brugge as seen from the top of the Belfry

As for those bats in the belfry I mentioned, I surely had a slew of them in my head that didn’t come from the Kriek. You see, I decided to undertake the arduous climb up to the top of the famous Belfry. I still can’t quite fathom why I had to pay eight euros – hell, they should’ve paid ME to climb up there. At least Ted was in a good mood. Mind you, he didn’t have to do the climbing; he left that to me.

All that schlepping around seeing the sights and trying to figure out maps with Dutch street names can make a person (and a bear) thirsty, and there’s only so much beer you can drink (even if it’s Kriek), especially when you’ve only just had breakfast, so I wisely carried a little water bottle around with me. Anyway, one lunchtime I bought a Belgian waffle from one of those shopfront windows, choosing to eat it while sitting along the ledge of a water sculpture that consisted of two horse heads, one of which had water coming from its mouth. By coincidence, this location happened to be where all the horse-drawn carriages started their journeys. I soon noticed that the drivers were using a bucket to collect water from the spewing horse-mouth in order to provide their horses with a refreshing drink. Noting the empty state of my water bottle, I found myself envying the horses and wondered if the water might be suitable for human and ursine consumption…

…When along came a trio of Italian tourists. They spent a moment contemplating the horse mouth, whereupon the more authoritative of the group took it upon herself to refill her empty water bottle. I sat anxiously by, waiting to see what would happen when she drank the water, indicating that I was most interested in the results of her venture. The signorina partook of her spoils and smiled encouragingly at me, giving the product her stamp of approval. I waited to see if anything would happen to her, such as violent convulsions or instant death. (Horses probably have heartier constitutions than Italians what with all that grass and hay they eat.) However, all was well and the trio moved off to other adventures, at which point I deemed it safe to fill my own bottle, though I got a really dirty look from one of the horses.

Teddy Tedaloo checks out the local chocolate supply

Teddy Tedaloo checks out the local chocolate supply

Did I mention that we went to the chapel known as Bloedbasiliek? It so happened we arrived right on time to receive a blessing from the priest over a scrap of cloth claimed to have some drops of Jesus’s blood on it. (Hey, everyone else was doing it!) This is the same chapel from “In Bruges” where one of the hit men goes up to the altar to touch the relic. In fact, I’m certain I saw a hit man go up to receive his own blessing after Teddy and I had ours – some Euro-gangster dressed in an expensive suit and wearing blue-tinted shades. All he needed was to carry a sign that said “I’m a dodgy European gangster” and he couldn’t have been more obvious. I won’t mention the Beware of Pickpockets signs posted all over the place. So much for being watched over by a higher power…

Teddy Tedaloo enjoys some Kriek with his mate Metteko in Brugge

Teddy Tedaloo enjoys some Kriek with his mate Metteko in Brugge

I should add that the minute it became known we were going to visit Belgium the invites came pouring in (not for me, but for Ted, whose social calendar was booked up before we’d even boarded the Eurostar!). First we met up with his mate Metteko in Brugge, where our happy group consumed plenty of Kriek (what else?), followed by plenty of Carbonnade (Flemish beef stew), all the while being serenaded by gypsy musicians from Slovakia, their lively rendition of a Russian ditty prompting the two bears to dance their paws off at the table.

Teddy Tedaloo enjoys yet more Kriek with his mate Berthus in Brussels

Teddy Tedaloo enjoys yet more Kriek with his mate Berthus in Brussels

The next afternoon in Brussels Ted met up with his mate Berthus for cake (and later, Kriek). It turned out that the waiter at the cafe was a big fan of the two furry gents and insisted on being photographed with them, afterward giving Ted a big paw shake (with yet another waiter getting into the act) as we left. I guess the first waiter was trying to make up for having told me en francais that they didn’t have any toilets and I should use my glass. It took me a few beats of forgotten high-school French to pick up on what he was saying, at which point I realised he was having a laugh. Or at least I think he was…

As for the Kriek, I’m going to check online for a supplier – one that will give me a bulk discount!

For a quick video tour of Brugge, click here!

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Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly Away Home

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Teddy Tedaloo flying Virgin Atlantic

Well, yet another visit to the old country has come and gone. And it wouldn’t have been complete without the usual stupidity of airline passengers crammed onto a flight that lasts too bloody long. It just gives you one more reason to despair of the human race… as if we needed any more!

Even before takeoff, this Virgin Atlantic all-nighter from Miami to London Heathrow seemed destined to provide endless hours of entertainment (and I’m not talking about the little video screens we had at our private disposal either). A game of musical chairs from start to finish, we had a cast of characters to rival any Carry On film.

First of all, we had a flight attendant who was a dead ringer for English comedienne Catherine Tate. The only thing she didn’t do was point at her ginger-fringed mug and say “face, bovvered?” She was kept busy trying to sort out a pair of Italian passengers seated in the row in front of me, who were evidently having difficulty fitting into the space allocated them, despite being given bulkhead seats. One guy was as tall as two American basketball players placed head to foot, the other looked as if he’d just eaten Luciano Pavarotti for lunch (and probably had).

Add to this recipe an old Muslim lady who, right at the moment of takeoff, suddenly decided that she wanted to change seats, thereby prompting a severe reprimanding over the loudspeaker. For the entire flight she kept waddling past the new set of passengers seated in the bulkhead seats formerly occupied by the Italians. Back and forth, back and forth, she spent more time on her walkabout then she did on her arse. If she wasn’t teetering past someone, she was pestering someone to get her handbag down from the overhead bin. Why she couldn’t take charge of it herself is anyone’s guess.

I’ll admit that I was none too chuffed with my seating arrangements either. Oh, I had the aisle seat in the centre section as requested, however, Teddy did not have his own seat. Clearly, this could not be allowed to continue, especially considering there was a spare seat at the other end of our row. Alas, neither of the two blokes seated to my left were amenable to shifting down a seat, despite my explaining that Ted did not want to sit on the floor. (They obviously didn’t realise they were dealing with a celebrity and co-star of Mitzi TV.) Instead they suggested that once we were airborne I move two rows back, where there was one lone passenger with three spare seats. They tried to pacify me with some chewy sweets, which I accepted, though that didn’t solve the problem – which was securing Teddy a seat.

Unlike the ever-waddling Muslim lady, I waited until we were safely airborne and the fasten seat belts sign was switched off, then popped back to check out the situation in the 3/4 empty row. Well, the bitchy queen holding court there informed me that the flight crew had told him he could have the entire row to himself so he could sleep. Indeed. Perhaps he was related to the Queen as well. Not wanting to get into a bitch-slapping session, I let it go. It was going to be a long flight, and I didn’t want to get into a fight only a half hour into it. Instead I renegotiated with my seat mates, and went round to the other side and took the empty seat, with my companions shifting one seat over, thereby leaving the seat next to me free for Ted.

Peace at last. Well, except for the South African flight attendant who kept making announcements that no one listened to. Things finally got quieter after everyone had chowed down their airline meals and did the post-dinner run to the toilet. Although Mrs Waddle continued to do her waddling and handbag thing, the stupidity on our international flight finally began to lessen…

…Until it came time to make our descent into London.

The seat belt sign came on, and we were instructed to do the usual thing: return our seat backs to their upright position, put away our tray tables, shut off any electronic devices, get rid of pillows and blankies, and get the hell out of the toilets. Of course, there’s always someone, isn’t there? Sure, Mrs Waddle continued to be as stupid as possible, though by now we expected it. However, it appeared she had fierce competition. One row up and to my left sleeping silently like a bomb waiting to go off was a young female with ears like Eddie Munster. She had slept through the entire flight. (Don’t you just hate these people???) The flight attendant had to wake her up to alert her that we were preparing to land, despite the fact that anyone with half a brain would have realised this, sleeping or not.

Mind you, I did say half a brain. Well, this dozy twat had no brain. When she finally roused herself from her catatonia after several promptings from the flight attendant, she dug out her cavernous sack of a handbag and proceeded to apply makeup to her vapid unwashed face. This went on for a good half hour. I couldn’t help but notice her dangling seat belt, which had remained unfastened throughout the majority of the flight and continued to remain thus, despite our imminent landing. I figured she would eventually fasten it after she finished trying to instill some character into her characterless face, but I was wrong.

Five minutes before we were due to be on the tarmac, she dug out some paperback novel that I could only categorise as “Bint Lit”, judging by its cover, which consisted of a woman’s high-heeled legs kicking into the air and the word “Girl” in the title. (Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover?) Her seat belt continued to remain unfastened as she became heavily engrossed in some tale of a female protagonist who was likely as brainless as herself. Guess she thought she was on the tube. I kept hoping we’d hit severe air turbulence at the last minute so she’d bang some sense into her empty head, but sadly, our pilot did a cracking job of setting us down at Heathrow.

Damn.

This wasn’t the end of it by a long shot. Just as we were getting ourselves sorted to deplane, this airhead suddenly realised that she still had a ton of crap she needed to return to her handbag, so back went all her makeup, the fine literature she’d been reading, and god knows what else – I’d not seen the big Italian in hours, maybe he went in there too. Then she started to put her shoes back on. People were leaving the aircraft and there’s Miss Bint still mucking about with her shoes. It just beggars belief, dunnit?

I’ve never wanted to slap anyone so much in my life. Between her and Mrs Waddle, who was slowly waddling up the other aisle and doing one hell of a job of delaying everyone behind her, I was ready to scream. If it weren’t for the fact that I’d ordered a taxi, I might’ve stuck around for a fight. But I wasn’t in proper form, not having slept a wink for the entire flight. Besides, I had an exhausted little bear with me.

I think I need to take a break from flying for awhile…

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“Born To Be Wild” – The New Video From Mitzi TV

Friday, September 25th, 2009
Mitzi TV video shoot

Mitzi Szereto at Mitzi TV "Born To Be Wild" video shoot

Mitzi TV head to the pastoral English countryside for some peace and relaxation, only to get a lot more than they bargained for when a hoard of Harley Davidson riders descends on their quiet country hotel.

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Mitzi Chats About All Things Mitzi TV

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Yours truly (that’s me!) recently took some time out to chat with journalist Michael Casey at a local Essex watering hole about my new entrepreneurial Internet television venture Mitzi TV – its origins, its direction, and its future, as well as the business of books, blogging, and social media.

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And Now For Something Completely Different…

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Mitzi TV "Eels" video shoot

Mitzi Szereto at Mitzi TV "Prowling For Eels" video shoot

…It’s Mitzi TV!

And just what did you think it was, a man with three buttocks?

In case you didn’t already know (like where you been, mate?), Mitzi TV is the new web TV channel to head to for all things quirky and eccentric in London. We’ve gone from crazy pub singalongs, eating jellied eel, and chatting about classic cars with such luminaries as Formula 1 racecar driver/BBC TV presenter Tiff Needell, couture shoe designer Jimmy Choo and Batman – to Morris dancing with software geeks. And no, this wasn’t in the same episode!

Of course, I couldn’t create all this madness and mayhem without the talents of cameraman extraordinaire/stand-up diamond geezah Steve Beer and cutie-pie theme musicman extraordinaire Andrew Shatnyy (Facebook/MySpace). And let’s not forget the talents of my handsome (albeit furry) production assistant extraordinaire Teddy Tedaloo, who also provides onscreen talent.

As for those buttocks I mentioned, how do you deal with a governmental body that has all the common sense of not even one buttock?

In my never-ending quest to bring you the ever-quirky and eccentric (while still managing to stay out of the loony bin), I recently found myself entering into a rather annoying fracas with a governmental body: the Royal Parks people. I knew I should’ve cut through all those buzzing drones and biscuit-eating/tea drinking middle men (and women) and gone straight to the top, specifically HRH. Now Lizzie’s a queen who gets things done!

I am referring to a recent attempt by yours truly to line up permission to shoot a Mitzi TV video at Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park. Because it’s a “Royal” park, I knew I’d need to obtain an official okay. I mean, it wasn’t like we’d be there with a little digital camera and could subtly blend into the crowd. We run a professional operation with professional equipment. (Plus people have commented on that big-ass mike I use, so “subtle” is not the word that springs to mind when we’re talking a Mitzi TV shoot.) Since Speaker’s Corner necessitates a substantial police presence (some of the speakers and audience members can get pretty wound up apparently), I didn’t fancy being led away by the Old Bill, therefore I decided to follow the proper channels to make the shoot happen. It’s a quirky kind of event, and Mitzi TV is nothing if not quirky, so it didn’t seem likely I’d be given an “on yer bike, missus!”.

When I received an email replying to my query, I thought, hey, this is great – sounds like we’re in! Here follows the exact text that refers directly to the issue about who and what controls the area in question:

Speaker’s Corner is an integral part of Hyde Park, which is one of London’s eight Royal Parks. The Royal Parks are owned by the Crown, but were passed to the Government under the Crown Lands Act 1851 to be managed as public open space. They are now the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who delegates their day to day management to The Royal Parks.  They are funded by the taxpayer.

Mitzi TV Talent

Teddy Tedaloo in Mitzi TV video opener

“Public open space.” “Funded by the taxpayer.” Well, I’m no lawyer, but this sounds like the definition of a public place – and you do not need permission to film in a public place (not yet anyway). That is why it’s called “PUBLIC.” That statement about being funded by the taxpayer put a further stamp of approval on the process, because guess who’s a taxpayer? Yeah, moi. Just to make certain there was no misinterpretation on my part as to what clearly looked to be a clear description of who controls the park, I messaged once more to confirm that I’d be allowed to shoot some video of the speakers, and asked which specific days they were there spouting off.

The reply came back that these Soapbox Annies and Alis are there on Sundays only, and yes, I would need permission to film, but my message was being forwarded to the Appropriate Party. Not wanting to waste time, I shot off an email to this A.P., explaining what I wished to do and that I’d like to take care of the details as quickly as possible. A.P. messaged back, informing me that they do not permit filming at Speaker’s Corner on Sundays, but I could phone them to discuss the matter further.

Umm… did they not just tell me that I couldn’t film there on a Sunday? So what was there to discuss, the weather? Of course we all know how the Brits love to talk about the weather.

So did this mean they’d give me permission to film at Speaker’s Corner on a day that was not a Sunday? Now forgive me if I’m wrong (or extremely stupid), but what’s the point of filming speakers at Speaker’s Corner when there aren’t any speakers there to film? This is the very question I put forth to A.P. in my reply, also mentioning the fact that plenty of people have shot videos there – how could this be possible if they needed to obtain permission? Needless to say, my email did not receive a response.

Mitzi TV "Car" video shoot

Mitzi Szereto at Mitzi TV "Baby You Can Drive My Car" video shoot

Now I have nothing against doing a bit of guerrilla filming – I’ve got more cajones than any of the men I’ve known. However, what I do have something against is being harassed (and led away by handcuffs) by the police. There’s a time and place for handcuffs – and this isn’t one of them. Besides which, London coppers aren’t as cute as they used to be. They’re getting a bit wide, if you know what I mean, looking more and more like their doughnut-eating American counterparts. So we’d better forget the handcuffs for now.

As for Mitzi TV, keep an eye out for me at Speaker’s Corner, because I don’t like taking “no” for an answer.

Guess it’s a good thing they abolished beheading in this country…

MITZI TV

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I am the Passenger: A Eulogy

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

The perennial passenger.

He started off in Belfast and finished up in Sheffield, a city famous for steel, the Arctic Monkeys, and the film The Full Monty, among other things.

So what does an Irishman who’d come by with his guitar to serenade me with weepy Irish songs (the Irish can compete with the Hungarians for misery, I’ll tell you that) have in common with a classic Iggy Pop song? Well, it’s the kind of thing that could only have happened to Yudge.

I’d been living in Leicester at the time, and one afternoon he’d taken the train down from Sheffield, armed with gee-tar and a bottle of red. We met up in town first, had a couple of pints at this dodgy pub full of arguing Scotsmen, then landed in a tapas place with a pitcher of sangria rapidly disappearing between us. After that it was back to mine, where Teddy and I were regaled with tragic musical tales of lovers lost at sea and potatoes that refused to grow – all this to the accompaniment of that very potent bottle of red. In between this melodic misery we had the comic relief of Iggy Pop – and I made my mate sing “The Passenger” at least three times, too. Damn, even now I still love that song!

When the bottle had run dry and we’d likewise run dry of songs (not even The Beatles were sacrosanct), I realised I either had to offer my sofa for the night or pack this Irish crooner into a taxi. The taxi won out, since there was plenty of time to catch an early evening train back up north to Sheffield. However, when the clock struck midnight (okay, the digital face on my bedside clock) and I hadn’t received so much as email or text, I became concerned; it was only an hour’s journey. I texted, I phoned, neither of which yielded a result. Where in hell had he vanished to? Had he run into a mate and gone down the pub? – or worse, run into his estranged wife and her gangster boyfriend? There was nothing I could do but go to bed and hope for the best. He was a grown man – surely he could look after himself. He may have had the heart and soul of a poet, but he’d grown up on a rough estate in Belfast.

The following afternoon the phone rang. No, it wasn’t Sheffield’s version of the Old Bill trying to touch me for bail money. It was the errant Yudge, telling me that never again would he go near red wine; from now on he’d stick to white. It seems he’d fallen asleep on the train and ended up in Leeds – and there were no more trains back down to Sheffield. Thus while I’d been frantically staring at my clock, he’d been wandering about Leeds city centre armed only with his guitar and a terrified expression, being eyed up by all sorts of shifty characters, until he finally ducked into a hotel that had a vacancy on offer at the extortionate rate of 160 quid. It ended up being the most expensive day out this “passenger” ever had. Clearly, this was no story that was destined to see print in a volume of my Erotic Travel Tales anthologies!

Now I’m not trying to upset anyone who might be from Leeds (heartfelt apologies to the Kaiser Chiefs!), but nearly everyone I know who’s been to Leeds has run into a spot of bad luck. One guy I know went there for a night out with his mates and ended up having the crap beaten out of him by some local lads just because he walked down the wrong street. Another guy I know had his wallet stolen from out of his jacket pocket while having dinner at a restaurant (along with his return train ticket home to the safety of rural Lincolnshire). Now I’ve been to Leeds, and I managed to get out unscathed. Mind you, I did leave before dark – and in the safety of a Peugeot that sped away on the M1 with pedal to the metal! So in my opinion, Yudge had a lucky escape.

Alas, he died three years ago this coming August Bank Holiday weekend.

On the day of his funeral, I had to fly to Greece to teach one of my erotic writing workshops on the island of Skiathos. He’d often spoken of moving back to Greece, where he’d spent the early days of his marriage. Since I couldn’t make the funeral (I don’t believe in funerals anyway), I thought it more significant to bury his photo in the sand at the beach. Afterward, I went to light a candle for him at a little church that I found open during siesta. It was empty, save for a handful of other candles that had been lit. Half an hour later I returned to look for the priest and hopefully communicate to him to say a prayer for Yudge (he was Irish Catholic, though I doubt he’d have minded being Greek Orthodox for a day). Unfortunately, there was no sign of the priest – or of anyone, for that matter. Nor was there any sign of the candle I’d lit. The other candles were still there, burning away – but mine had vanished. And yes, I’d put a euro into the box!

Was this my friend’s idea of a joke? Because there was no earthly explanation for that missing candle. It’s a shame Mitzi TV wasn’t around back then – we could’ve done a Greek Tales of the Unexpected!

It took a year before I stopped expecting my phone to ring at 1am in the morning. We thought nothing of calling each other at outrageous hours – we’d usually be up anyway. Perhaps we both suffered from the same malady: he always told me we were too delicate for this world.

He was right. And so was Iggy when he wrote that song.

My mate Yudge was, indeed, the passenger. And I’m willing to bet anything he still is!

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