On one hand, the skies are leaden and black, rain is pissing down relentlessly, and it is cold and windy. On the other hand, I am in New York and not at my desk, so I'm not bothered.
I landed in Washington DC yesterday morning 11am, ready to take a connecting flight to NY La Guardia. By taking two flights instead of the one, I saved myself 30 pounds, bargain! Sadly, the connecting flight was delayed. For three huffing hours. I came to feel very, very cheap as I sat sprawled out on a chair while large people cheerfully started random conversations with each other without shuffling uneasily or keeping the chat to a minimum a la UK.
At one point in my wait marathon, I observed a convivial old man, all grey hair and warm smile, exiting from a Staff Only door. With his bumbling demeanour, he put me mind of Jimmy Stewart in his later years, especially when the staff door retracted with a SLAM. He jumped, quite alarmed, and said something akin to 'Jeepers.' It was then that I noted this ageing security guard's gun on his hip. So that was interesting.
Spending an eighth of a day wandering aimlessly around Dulles International airport wasn't something I'd recommend to anyone. I wandered off to their two smoking rooms which were a disgrace - Heathrow's room was clean-smelling with good air-con and hidden from view around the back of the O'Neills pub. The rooms at Dulles seemed more geared towards humiliation with their glass windows affording non-smoking passers-by the chance to walk past and feel superior. Plus the rooms reeked and made Heathrow's smoking room look like the perfume counter at Harrods. Ban smoking in public; fine, but don't make smokers feel like social pariahs, please.
I tried to get some quarters to call my lady friend and tell her about the delays (I forgot to activate International Roaming on my cellphone before I left, meaning I'm now walking around with a glorified watch in my pocket), but each person I spoke to in shops kept asking me how I was before I'd ever said anything, and it confused and confounded me. EACH ONE.
'How are you?'
'Erm, Fine. I don't want to buy anything, I just want change.'
This to me at least, made the whole encounter worse and made me feel like scum.
Then I spent about three bucks feeding quarters to a phonebox that kept the change and never actually connected me to anyone.
By now, the vein was throbbing in my forehead, even by the time the NY plane arrived and I ended up sitting next to a lovely old lady who smelled of wee.
I was completely confused by the time I took a cab directly to a bar near my ladyfriend's house (she had not yet returned from work). I had been chatting to the cab driver (a Bangladeshi) about England's recent win over his countrymen in the Cricket World Cup and had completely forgotten where I was. I left the cab and walked to the bar, I passed a girl on her phone who was talking with a broad nasal twang.
'Hey!' I thought, 'an American!'
Thursday morning, and I am about to leave the apartment and venture forth into cold, wet and windy hell. On holiday, yet under crappy conditions.
Coming all too soon: New York II: Bugger