Toronto, Canada

It's been an absolute whirlwind since the Barcelona posting less than a week ago. I spent a few days in Redditch, a little south-west of Birmingham, England with my wife and her family, day tripping to Stow-on-the-Wold, Warwick and Solihull. We had a grand visit and fab meals ending Friday evening with a barbecue in the back yard before journeying southward to spend the night in London and catch the early Saturday flight back to the States. If it is possible to have one, the highlight of our airport experience was a huge red banner screaming "does my bum look small in this?" strung across the entire length of Virgin Airlines' check-in counters. I'd like to think it has something to do with their larger, redesigned seats. As we were flying the competition whose seats were neither, my bum looked and felt pretty much the same as it always does. We arrived home Saturday night to the never ending delight of our dog, then having a sweep of second wind (energy, not intestinal) my son and I went out for a Vietnamese dinner at our fave restaurant, Miss Saigon. Sunday afternoon found me back at the Nashville airport and on my way to Toronto with a serious case of global whiplash. No sooner than I flipped the light switch on in my Toronto hotel room, the phone rang with a chirpy Guy Fletcher on the line saying that the world's largest and coldest gin and tonic with loads of fresh squeezed lime was in my future. And so to Guy's room for the antidote to global whiplash.

Up early this morning and hereby declare the antidote an unqualified success. A little coffee then it was off to the gym which I've ignored for almost two weeks. Great hotel, mediocre gym which is often the case. Still, in the competition between Richard vs. weights, the weights won, often the case as well.

There is only one civilised thing to do after a tough work out in Canada; find the nearest Harvey's Burger and get yourself in it. Exactly what I did for a #1 cheeseburger combo, reversing any benefit gained throwing the weights around. I think Harvey's is the best chain burger in the biz, fresh, hot burgers on good rolls with an assortment of just the right things to top it. They know what to do with french fries as well. Another item on the menu is a very Canadian thing called Moulline (sp?) which is a cup of fries doused with brown gravy. Can't vouch for it, maybe next time. Anyway, the Harvey's experience was all I'd remembered and it's the best 6 Canadian bucks you'll ever spend. Feeling like I hadn't completely undone myself, I went next door to Tim Horton's for a doughnut and cup of coffee. In this day of triple decaf latte's, extra shots, half-caf whatnots and other caffeine double talk, Tim Horton's offers a great, plain ol' cuppa joe. These two chains are must stops for me though seldom in rapid sequence as this afternoon. The English have a phrase, to "faff about", means to fool around or dilly-dally to put it politely. No faffin' about, have a Harvey's and a Horton's.

Shower, check out of the hotel and it's down to The Molson Amphitheatre, an outdoor venue near the water that we played last year. Tonight's meet and greet was attended by my dear friends Bill and Heather Howitt of Windsor, Ontario. We met nearly 30 years ago here in Toronto and have shared so many good times together. Tonight they were witness to the aloha spirit that we forcibly inflict on m&g guests, a side of me that Heather and Bill have previously escaped. It was wonderful seeing them if only for a few minutes. The show was not a sell out by a long shot, but those in attendance made up for those absent, a very relaxed and swinging show partially due to our combined jet lag as well as having had several days off. Profoundly confident but not pushy is the best way to describe tonight's performance. Profoundly confident but not pushy sounds like a crap description for wine but we all had a helluva good time up there on stage and the Toronto audience couldn't have been better.

A runner from the stage to meet our purring Gulfstream 4.....the king of private jets is back! She's a builder and a destroyer...a builder of respect for air travel, design and aeronautics and a destroyer of tolerance for anything less, simply by sitting in one of her luxurious seats. Does my bum look small in this? A jet that is going nowhere except to your desired location. Our air hostess, Christie is fab, funny, on the ball and knows what to do with a food expense account. Tonight the seven seas and the great harbours and bays of the world were poorer for the massive platters of sushi that were served. The distillers of gin, the brewers of beer and the makers of wine all rubbed their hands with pleasure for the Gulfstream's bar was stocked to overflowing. Fruit platters second to none, papaya, mango, strawberries the size of plums, lychee nuts the size of lychee nuts, fresh blueberries and more. This is going to be a stunningly good bit of roadrunning.

   Q.   What could possibly follow today?
   A.   A day off in Manhattan tomorrow!

Now, let me get this straight one last time. I'm getting paid to do this?

So long,