Earlier this fall, my work took me to The University of Manchester, located in Manchester, United Kingdom. The night before my plane left, I browsed my favorite Elvis websites, and was surprised to learn that there was an Elvis festival going on in–yes, you guessed it–Manchester.
Studying the schedule a bit closer I noticed that the festival ended on the very same day we would be arriving, on a Sunday, and that we could probably manage to attend the Midnight Wrap Party, starting at 7:00 PM, as our flight would be landing sometime in the afternoon.
Not knowing how the colleagues that I was traveling with would react, I nevertheless printed out the schedule together with a map of Manchester, showing the location of the festival.
Sometime during the flight I mentioned the Elvis festival to a colleague sitting in the seat next to me, telling him that the wrap party promised a “final opportunity to socialize with the ETAs [Elvis Tribute Artists] and fans while enjoying more karaoke.” His eyes immediately lit up. “That sounds like fun. Let's go there after we have eaten dinner tonight,” he said.
Arriving in Manchester on time, we found our hotel and then went out looking for something to eat. After a meal at an Italian restaurant, two of my colleagues decided to join me when I asked if they were still interested in visiting the Elvis festival. “Of course,” one of them said, “I've been thinking about all those Elvis impersonators all day, let's go.”
So I hailed a cab, and told the driver to take us to the Elvis festival. Receiving a blank look in the rear mirror I handed him the map I had printed the day before. “There it is,” I said helpfully. “On the other side of the river.” Looking at the map and then shaking his head, he mumbled something about not understanding where we wanted to go. “It's at the Radisson Hotel,” I clarified. “Why didn't you say so,” the driver fired back. “Why hand me a map?”
Finally on our way, I calculated that the drive would take at least 10 minutes. Imagine my surprise when the cab stopped after only a couple of hundred meters, not having passed a river at all. “Radisson Hotel,” the driver announced, and looking out the window I could see he was right. But where was the Elvis festival? From where I was looking, the lobby looked pretty much deserted.
“What was the name of that hotel restaurant where the festival was taking place,” one of the colleagues in the cab with me, asked. Glancing at the schedule that I held in my hand together with the map, I answered, “JD's Tavern.” My colleague took out his iPhone, accessed the internet and punched in the name.
“JD's Tavern is located at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester all right,” he said after a while, looking at me with a smug smile on his face. ”Only we're talking about Manchester in the U.S state of New Hampshire.”
Right there, right then, I felt incredible foolish. There I was, in a cab in Manchester, having convinced my colleagues we were going to an Elvis festival to enjoy a drink or two while watching lots of impersonators in action, realizing I was in the wrong country, even on the wrong continent for heaven's sake!
“Ah, well,” the colleague with the iPhone said. “Let's go inside for a drink anyway.” Nodding my head, I started to get out of the cab, handing the driver a bill, but completely forgetting to wait for the change.
A few minutes later, the three of us were sitting in the bar, nursing beers and listening to music that was as far from Elvis as it could get. And although the evening turned out OK in the end, it wasn't exactly what I had imagined the day before, sitting in front of my computer, looking at the schedule for the 2012 New England Elvis Festival. Sigh!