It’s late on Monday night in Orlando, Florida. The rain, which has been bruising the sky since late afternoon, has finally started dropping. The air is clean and sweet. I’m four beers into the night, my tension gone, my eyelids drooping. It’s been a busy week.
After the events of the last few days in London, it’s good to be a few thousand miles away. Getting some distance from it seems the best way to deal with the feelings and thoughts running through my head. I’m sick and tired of the Dunkirk spirit, of being stoic and brave in the face of adversity. Walking home on Thursday night, passing the cordons at Edgeware Road, trying not to think about what’s in the tunnels at poor luckless King’s Cross. These are the things that make you decide you need a holiday. And fortunately, that’s just what we had coming.
We flew out on Sunday. There’s five of us. Me and Clare, her brother Ian, his wife Sandi, their three-year-old son Alistair. We’re all ready for the break. It’s Ali’s first flight that he can properly remember, and he loves it. He makes friends, chatters excitedly to the stewardesses, and is, as ever, cute as a pink fluffy button.
American border security was fun. Blimey. Forget the fingerprints and digital photos, I’ve never had to take my shoes off and run them through an x-ray to get into a country before. I have to unpack my hand luggage at one point, and as the digital camera and the laptop and the iPod come out it becomes apparant that I have become the geek I always aspired towards. I will embrace this inner geek. I will allow him to define my actions. There is an Apple store in Orlando. A reckoning approaches.
I’ll keep this to broad strokes, as it’s late, the caffeine’s worn off and the beer’s kicked in. Moments so far:
Cruising down Florida boulevards in our Chrysler Town and Country, Big Bubba. The radio has been figured and is pumping, the seating arrangements sorted, the cup-holders cooed over. Ian in the driver’s seat can’t stop grinning.
Ali’s reaction to the booking of a helicopter ride: “But Daddy’s too big to get in one of those!” Cue collapse of all parties. The kid is a stand-up comedian, swear to God.
The International House of Pancakes. We are all so, so fat now. Note also our waiter’s reaction to our response to the innocent question as to whether we would like the vast amount of uneaten food on our plates bagged up for later contemplation: “Oh GOD no. I don’t ever want to see another pancake!” Sorry, William. Nothing personal. We still tipped. We’re just not used to American portions yet.
While at the IHOP, a family from New York commisurate with us about Thursday’s events. We commisurate back. They have 9/11. We now, apparantly, have 7/7. London and NY have always had a lot in common, but this?
Walmart. There’s choice and there’s choice. But why would anyone choose to purchase big slabs of (and this is on the packaging) Ham And Water Style Product.
Let me say that again. Ham And Water Style Product.
It looks even worse than it sounds. Imagine a pink gelid slab of goop about the size of a PC case.
Walmart sell that. That’s food apparantly.
Just when I thought I couldn’t get over the aisle of bagged grated cheese.
Free broadband. In the apartment. There is drool on the iBook’s keyboard. I am so happy.
Generally, it’s what I thought it would be here (ugh, grammatical pratfall, sorry, typing on empty now.) Everything’s big and friendly and a little bit too man-made. Fun of course, and I’m already grooving on being here with people I love even if they do insist on laughing at my new Star Wars t-shirt (it’s the skull and crossbones but with a Stormtrooper head! Remember, I’m feeding my inner geek. There may be a danger of giving him indigestion.)
Tomorrow: Gatorland. And pictures. Promise.