"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
Isn’t the world BIG? I noticed this as I flew across half of it to get to San Francisco with new friends Adelaide and Madison. They travelled like seasoned pros, giggling and sleeping for nearly twelve hours: I put a bag on my head and tried not to watch Mamma Mia, screening about six inches from my face. I had completed the funding bids for both National Poetry Day and Living Derby the night before so that I could travel with a clear conscience, and have done nothing that demands any intelligence since then.
My response to jetlag was heroic. Well, lucky. As soon as I arrived, kind host Ian had the foresight to get me very drunk. I instantly adapted to Pacific Time, went to bed when I should and woke only when the disturbingly athletic neighbours almost shagged their way through the ceiling. Apparently buildings can’t be both earthquake-proof and soundproof. Just to be sure I was over the jetlag, we repeated the process the next night…
Rediscovering Ian and discovering his wife Junehee has been an immense pleasure. Unaffected by five years of Californian sunshine and breathtaking natural beauty, he remains the cynical Lancastrian I knew and loved in a former life. He and Junehee have spooned Korean food, Vietnamese food, Californian food into me and taken me on adventures – a trip to Stinson Beach, a tour of the Marin Headlands National Park, a walk to Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge. Ian even trailed patiently along with me to see some old boats including wonderful houseboats and a paddle steamer.
Main observations: 1 It’s not hot but it’s sunny enough to burn an English rose. 2. The politeness of American shop assistants/ waiters is much overstated. 3 The quality of American food is much understated – or maybe that’s just California.
Today, while English persons were sleeping, I was in Macy’s department store having cosmetics applied to me by smiling bimbos, in Borders reading erotic American poetry (bloody good) and then in the Museum of Modern Art looking at mysterious wooden things and photos of the moon. Two weeks is an obscenely long time to spend on holiday and I don’t quite know what to do with it – but I know we’ll be eating Korean food and Christmas pudding on Thursday, and I’ll be going to Alcatraz on Boxing Day.
Tune in next week for more sickening news of sunny festivities. Meanwhile…