Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Day 18 – Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It
I love this song and at the time it was re-released, 1990, it was a time for reflection for me. The 1980’s was over, a decade that I will always cherish.
My life had changed so much; I had a good job, I owned a house and I was married. There were times when I had to pinch myself.
A year earlier W and I had pushed the boat out and splashed out on a massive four week holiday to the United States of America, a country I had always wanted to visit. I was in awe of the place it lived up to my expectations completely.
I was young and impressionable and fell in love with the place so much that I actually considered leaving my job and my country to go and live there.
We flew to New York and then immediately on to Washington, spending two days there before heading south to New Orleans. After a day or two there, we headed west to San Francisco before visiting Los Angeles for two weeks to stay with a friend of W. Finally we headed back east to Cleveland to visit another friend of W who had been her pen pal since they were kids. Finally we drifted back to New York for a couple of days before flying back home.
There were many highlights and, of course, a couple of cultural mishaps. Here are some of them:
We saw all of the sights in Washington, but one of the funniest things I saw were a bunch of Americans at Dulles airport standing looking at Concord with looks of pure reverence. One guy turned to me and said “Wonderful, isn’t she?” As soon as I replied he shook my hand – because I was British, as if I actually had a hand in creating it.
In New Orleans in the French Quarter, we enjoyed listening to traditional jazz, while sipping Dixie beer in a bar with one of the most attractive barmaids I have ever seen. And she considered my accent to be very sexy.
I loved San Francisco and actually got cramp walking up and down the legendary hills of that city. It is still the only place on Earth where I have been in a jail cell; I hasten to add that it was on Alcatraz.
In Los Angeles, a woman was so enamoured by my accent that she said “I would do ANYTHING for an Englishman.” All I asked for was change for a dollar. In case you are wondering, she was in her seventies.
I met and chatted to KITT, the legendary Knight Rider car, lifted the A Team van, climbed on a giant telephone from Land of the Giants, met the shark from Jaws, was involved in a simulated earthquake and was attacked by Cylons – all in the space of three hours.
In Beverley Hills I saw a pair of trousers for sale in one of the shops on Rodeo Drive for $500 – and that was in a sale.
I swam in a swimming pool with one of the best dogs I have ever met – the golden retriever owned by the woman we were staying with. I wanted to bring that dog home with me; sadly W wasn’t keen on dogs and the owner wouldn’t let me take her back anyway.
I went to a drive-in movie – a surreal experience – but fun.
In Cleveland, an American guy was waiting for me to say one stereotypically English phrase – so that he could crack a totally unfunny joke. His girlfriend called him an “Asshole” when he kept trying to get me to say it – I didn’t have the heart to tell him that most British people do not say “Cheerio”. His “joke” was also not funny at all.
I climbed the Empire State Building – not like King Kong, I have to say; I used a very fast lift.
I spent Independence Day at a party in New Jersey and was followed around for the entire event by a guy with a camcorder who “loved my accent”.
I loved America and it took a while for the desire I had to uproot and move there to dissipate. By now, that little seed of desire to travel had now germinated into a full infatuation – something that still exists today.
And thankfully, at that time, my career drifted into an area that enabled me to travel abroad as part of my job. And I still do that today.
I may moan about my job on this blog but the one thing that I love about it is the opportunities it has given me over the years to visit some of the wonderful countries out there in the world.
And each time I set foot on a plane to jet to pastures new, I still get that amazing buzz that appeared in 1989 when I went to America for the first time.
Don’t you just love travelling?