THE MAX FACTOR
In which the normally unflappable caliph of cool, MAX CHIPCHASE, is reduced to tearing his hair out on a Bahamian almost-misadventure
JUNE WAS A typically jet-setting month for me as I headed for the glamorous seclusion of Harbour Island in the Bahamas. The engagement was a three-day affair to celebrate the wedding of Olivier de Givenchy to his beautiful bride, Zoë Couper.
Having never visited the Bahamas, I was excited at the prospect of going there and sampling the palm tree-lined, fine-sand beaches that spring to mind. Little did I know that my journey would entail all manner of trials and tribulations.
I set off from Los Angeles late Wednesday evening bound for Miami on an overnight flight, which would get me into Miami airport early the following morning. There, I would have four hours to wait before my connecting flight, aiming to arrive on Harbour Island a little after noon. This would give me plenty of time to change, sound check and prepare for the first of my three performances: a 5pm French Riviera-themed cocktail party at the groom’s home.
I landed in Miami somewhat bleary-eyed and made my way to the business lounge, where I was greeted by a cheerful lady who inquired which gate I’d be flying from. I told her Gate 60 and asked if it were far, to which she replied, “Oh, no, honey, it’s right at the bottom of the steps. It’ll only take you two minutes.” Happy in the knowledge that I hadn’t far to go, I settled in to prepare my playlists for the nights ahead.
I waited till 20 minutes before my flight was due to depart before heading to the gate, only to discover, horror of horrors, that my oh-so-English accent had been misheard and that the receptionist had understood Gate 16, not Gate 60. Learning that Gate 60 was a train ride away in a separate terminal, I bolted through the airport like a maniac in a desperate attempt to catch my flight.
My efforts were in vain. I got to the gate three minutes after it had closed. No amount of begging would persuade the staff to reopen it. My desperation reached its peak when they informed me that my missed flight was the only one to Harbour Island that day.
Seeing my panic, the airport staff took pity on me and set to work getting me rerouted through neighbouring Nassau, where I’d have 50 minutes to transfer to my destination. This would get me in at 3.30pm. With a swift shower and change of clothes I could still just about make my gig on time.
I caught the flight to Nassau, where I pleaded my way through the horrendously long line at immigration so that I could catch my next flight. I was sprinting through customs when I was pulled aside by an officer who asked what I had in my case. Despite the enormous pressure I was under I did my best to comply and opened my case. Concerned that the organisers might not have been able to source the specific equipment I had requested, I’d brought a CD player with me as backup, something I would never normally do. When the officer saw this he demanded that I pay US$500 cash on the spot, otherwise he wouldn’t let me clear customs. The blood rushed from my face as I opened my wallet to show him the 100 or so dollars I was carrying.
Before I knew what was happening I was up against the wall being interrogated by several officials while I watched the clock tick down on my soon-to-be-missed flight. I was left with no choice but to go to an ATM and withdraw the cash. Once I had handed it over, they let me on my merry way, with an official receipt in my hand, but it was too late. I’d missed my flight. Again.
By now I was at my wits’ end, but fortunately an airline official managed to secure me a seat on a flight that would get me in 30 minutes before the party was due to start. I caught this flight, and got to the venue minutes before the guests were due to arrive, only to find that nothing had been set up and that among the prehistoric equipment supplied there were no speaker cables.
This really was the last straw and I was ready to pull my hair out, but after a mad panic the cables finally materialised and I began my set. The rest of the evening continued without incident and the guests had a wonderful time as I warmed them up with a selection of French favourites old and new to complement the Riviera theme.
The rest of the weekend was a blast. The following night there was a tropical-themed party at a private villa complete with a local singing duo and a colourful Junkanoo (Bahamian carnival) playing alongside me, while the final evening consisted of a supremely elegant dinner and dance that took place after the wedding ceremony at the fabulous Pink Sand Beach on the opposite side of the island.
Bride, groom and guests all had an unforgettable weekend in what was without doubt an absolutely spectacular location. I guess it just goes to show that after all my screaming emergencies in getting there, the end really did justify the means.