Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Part the First

I suppose I should write about all this travelling I’ve been doing, not the half arsed account of the really quite mundane aspects of my summer, where all I really did was go to other parts of the UK and get drunk in them. The most interesting thing that happened this summer was a result of Kristen finishing her job in Long Island, NY and going off to start her new job on the other side of the country. Due to a shocking act of unprovoked generosity on the part of Kristen’s parents I was going to go with her on a road trip across the United States driving from New York to Berkeley, California, via South Carolina and her family home.

I suppose the best place to start this would be the 10th of august 2006. By this point I had got my head pretty much around the idea that I was actually going to America to see Kristen and, through much staring at maps, had almost got my head around the kind of distances we would be covering. Being from a small country I really had trouble with the idea of driving for an entire day and not reaching your destination – well actually that’s not true, but in the UK if you drove for a day your destination wouldn’t be anywhere interesting, it’d be just some small damp town in Scotland somewhere where the locals amuse themselves by drinking whiskey and shaving sheep. So, it is more accurate to say that I couldn’t get my head around the idea of driving for days and ending up somewhere where people have mains electricity and sewers. I tried to put the trip into some kind of perspective that I’d understand and so I worked out how far we were going to be travelling, roughly, and looked to see how far that would get me in Europe…

I found that it would in fact get me out of Europe altogether, and that it was pretty much like driving from here to Baghdad – although, despite the stories I’ve been told I was going to assume that the journey we were about to undertake was considerably safer than that one.

Anyway, back to the 10th of august. By this time I had sorted out what I needed to bring and got hold of an appropriate bag and suchlike logistical necessities, meaning that there wasn’t much else for me to do other than try and distract myself from the prospect of flying, which wasn’t one I relished. I’d never flown before so it was all a bit daunting. I wandered downstairs on the morning of the 10th (actually it was probably the afternoon – I’m not an early riser) and switched on the TV.

In case you don’t remember the story here it is

I spoke to some friends who had family going on holiday that weekend, camping out in the airport for days seemed be the norm and most of them lost a day or two from their holidays as a result of cancelled flights, which would have had devastatingly unsexy effects on my own trip.

Strangely, after the initial screaming heebie-jeebies, it wasn’t the fear of being exploded in midair by some shifty beardy geezer who I probably went to the same school as that particularly bothered me. This whole episode actually made me calmer than I was before about the prospect of flying. I don’t mean the sort of crazed calm one gets walking into exams, I mean that I was forced to either sit down and think rationally about the odds and probabilities of the whole thing or run away screaming and hide in my cupboard. I figured that getting in a plane was probably a few thousand times safer than getting a lift from Danny*.

So I did the sensible thing. I went out for a walk and watched the greasy brown sunset over London from the top of the hill – say what you like about pollution, it certainly does lead to some, erm, very unique sunsets – and later on decided to finally assuage my fears in the normal manner, which is going out, getting my wobbly boots on, and making really crass and tasteless jokes about it with my friends as if I’m not in the slightest bit bothered. I find that I can often convince myself that way.


So. There you go. Episode one. I’ll write up the rest of it later, well I’ve written most of it already, but It’ll probably require proofreading and rewriting like this one did and I need to get back to work.


*No offence Danny, it’s just that you drive like Biggles.