CHAPTER FIVE: IRELAND
Aaaahhh…first class! As I sat back in the Lazy Boy like comfort of the chair I couldn’t help but glance over at the back of Jackie’s head a few rows down from me every few seconds. I kept expecting him to turn around only to see some stranger I’d never seen before and then wake up to find that it was all a dream… Everyone else seemed to be talking quietly or sleeping – but not me. I wanted to yell! I wanted to scream! I wanted to dance up and down the aisles and into the cockpit! I wanted to sing to the world! I was on my way to Ireland with JACKIE CHAN to work on a movie!
This was my first time flying first class! We were flying British Airways from Toronto, Canada to Dublin, Ireland with a two hour stopover in London, England. The flight passed pretty quietly, Exy, true to his word, was out like a light and Willie, Solon, Dorothy, and Jackie were either talking business or sleeping. Exy woke up from time to time to see if the flight was over yet and in those instances when he was conscious we chatted about what his job was like, photographing Jackie around the world, and what he had to do for this job in particular. What struck me about it all was how nonchalantly he talked about everything. I mean, he wasn’t the least bit star struck! I guess you get used to it after awhile. He spoke about his job like an accountant would about tax season.
The flight ended almost as quickly as it had started. As we descended I looked out the window to see Big Ben through the clouds. I will never forget that moment! It was such a majestic sight! I felt like I was watching a movie – the sight of it almost didn’t look real! We landed and all of the other passengers began to gather their things and exit the plane. I wanted to get up right away to leave but I made eye contact with Dorothy who motioned for me to sit down. We waited until everyone had left the flight and then filed out. At the British airport, like in Toronto, we had security escorts, the only difference was we did everything ourselves – which I didn’t mind. They escorted us to baggage claim where we picked up our luggage and then down a long hallway with those electronic walkways, like escalators but on flat ground. I had two really heavy bags and I noticed that Jackie preferred walking on the normal ground so I followed him. They lead us to check in our bags and then to the airport’s VIP section where we waited for our next flight.
Jackie sat down, picked up a magazine on the table and started flipping through it. I didn’t know this at the time, but Jackie always speed reads through all sorts of magazines to get ideas for his movies. Dorothy carried in a long black bag, maybe three quarters the size of a pair of skis, and set it down in front of Jackie. Jackie seemed excited at the sight of the bag.
“Come here, see this,” he said to me.
I jumped up like an eager puppy waiting for my master’s next command. He unzipped the bag and pulled out what looked like a double edged ski with a box in the centre which had handles protruding from either side. It was some sort of portable exercise machine. Jackie stepped onto either side of it, grabbed the handles and proceeded to do various exercises with it! At first, watching Jackie use the machine I didn’t think much of it, after all I was used to working out at a full weight gym back at home and this dinky little thing obviously didn’t compare.
“This is one of best exercise machine I’ve seen, I really think this is a good one. I want to sell it. Here, you try,” Jackie looked directly at me, which was a little unnerving, motioning for me to get on it. I stepped on the machine, a little skeptical, and started doing some shoulder flies. There was reasonable resistance, and for what it was I suppose it was pretty good. I asked Jackie if there was a way to adjust the resistance. He pointed to two knobs on the side of the machine. It seemed a pretty simple design. Two cables coiled into the box with a mechanism for adjusting their resistance. I wasn’t very impressed with it, I was expecting to see some cool martial arts weapon or training device. Of course I didn’t vocalize my thoughts, I just nodded in agreement with Jackie who seemed to really like it. Afterwards I realized the genius of this machine – it was easily portable, perfect for the frequent traveler. After all, Jackie Chan’s second home is the airport! I realized that for Jackie, being able to train in a full work out facility is a luxury. The only space (and time) he has to train is in his hotel room after a day of shooting or various public appearances.
(On a side note, like a year later, I saw an infomercial on TV featuring Jackie Chan promoting, guess what, The Cable Flex! I thought the infomercial was soo cool just cause it was Jackie Chan and his stunt team – who I now knew personally! The product didn’t end up doing too well, there were numerous customer complaints about broken or defective parts and having great difficulty getting the company to refund or replace the item. I guess Jackie’s so busy he doesn’t really have time to pay attention to the little details like that, but at that stopover in London he really did genuinely believe in this product. Jackie has since removed his name from the product. If you’re interested in what it looks like this is the official site for the Cable Flex:
http://www.cableflex.com/ here’s a site that still sells the Cable Flex when Jackie endorsed it: