Last year I was wafted to the airport in a luxuriously-appointed Volvo. This year I got a VW Sharan, which the cunning engineers of Wolfsburg had contrived to make sound like an air-cooled Beetle, unless there was a hole in the exhaust. It got me to LHR T5 on time and in budget, which is the best you can hope for.
Now, People Who Run LHR T5 And Its Bountiful Retail Opportunities: how about a map of the shops to show the weary traveller where he may purchase duty-free cigarettes. Yes, cigarettes are horrid and nasty and DETHy and their consumption leads to heroin addiction, paedophilia and suicide bombing, but not being able to find them causes the same thing only worse. Much worse. Exactly much worse. But they have to be hidden from view in a manner almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the sex shop at Frankfurt airport. Allegedly. I found them, though, so poo to the Safety Nazis who would have me smoke foul Leftpondian fags and accrue no benefit to HM Treasury as a result.
They have hidden the Big Metal Bird somewhere on the ærodrome so far away that you actually have to reach it by bus. No matter. It takes off. I fall asleep. I wake up for lunch. I fall asleep again. I wake up for pre-landing snack. I lose my glasses case (though happily not my glasses). I do not complain about the foul coffee because, after all, I myself will also be old and weak one day. Probably tomorrow. I arrive in Sea-Tac and steel myself for the annual battle with the collection of miserable, but heavily-armed, fuckers who control access to USAnia.
But what is this? Homeland-Secur-o-bots! A Thing looking like the unholy offspring of an ATM and a Dalek reads your passport, takes your dabs, snaps your picture and produces a receipt. You hand the receipt to the very much more cheerful chap at the gate who stamps your passport and welcomes you to USAnia. This means that you get to spend an extra half an hour waiting for The Luggage. Oh.
To the Rental Car Center (sic). The queue here is longer than the one to get into the country. Finally a Nice Man pokes his Babbage-Engine. But wait! He is not a Nice Man at all, no, he is one of Stan's Imps in disguise. I know this because the first thing he does is offer me an "upgrade" to a Dodge Challenger. "V8 muscle car" he says. "Not a convertible, though is it?" I reply. "No. No, it is not" he admits, crestfallen. Then he makes another bid for my Soul. "Or a Corvette?" Now you can take the central roof panel off a 'vette, but you shouldn't if you plan on travelling at more than 40 mph. I made that mistake once and still have earache. "Begone, foul tempter!" I cry. "Give me the Mustang and my soul!". Thwarted by Common Sense, he presses the button and directs me to level two of Heck.
Yes, you read that right. Mr Larrington passed up the 190 mph ground-based missile...
The motor-car awaiting me looks pretty much the same as that one up there ^^^^ except that it's silver. And lacks the little hollow on top of the dash in which to place Emily the TwatNav's base, that she might stay put when going round corners. But it does have a button to start the engine instead of a boring old key, so that's alright then.
Praise be, Emily makes contact with with NASA. "Where to, Master?" she asks. I feed her the address. "Calculating" she says. For the next eighty-five miles. Fortunately these are straight up I-5 so getting lost would be tricky. Finally I pull over, disconnect her from everything, tell her that if she doesn't behave I will be finding the nearest branch of the Canadian equivalent of Halfords tomorrow and switch her back on.
"In sixteen miles exit right" she says. I subsequently instructed her to Go Metric, though I'm not sure the motor-car's cruise control can be similarly jibbled. No matter, I am now in Metric Canada in spite of the best efforts of the grumpy fucker at the border. Here is a picture of a Canadian mountain:
|Mountain. Canada. Saturday.|