Sunday, November 07, 2004

Cat's In The Cradle 

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

We studied the note closely, looking for clues. Whoever sent it had been observing our every movement. They knew when we’d arrived, everything we’d eaten and every drink we’d ordered. They even knew how much we’d tipped the waitresses. Fucking creepy.
“Check out this bit,” I said to Girlfriend. “They - whoever the fuck ‘they’ might be - are sorry we’re leaving, but if we’d like to extend our stay…”
I stormed across the room to fetch our suitcases.
“Too freakin’ right they’d like us to extend our stay. Weirdos. Pack up your stuff. Right now. I’m reporting this to reception and then we’re out of here.”

The reason we’d come to New England when we did was to try and catch the foliage at its reddest. There are websites and suchlike dedicated to predicting when and where to see the best foliage, which is great if you can just drop everything and go. If you can’t do the drop and go, you book and hope instead.

It didn’t quite work out for us. There’d been a warm wet summer, hurricanes in the South screwing things up, and this being an election year, higher than normal methane levels in the air. Fall was running late.
We were heading south again, so if it hadn’t happened for us by now, then it wasn’t going to. We saw lots of oranges and yellows and a bit of red too, but not on the scale we’d hoped for. Oh well.

We - me, Girlfriend, and about twenty thousand others - walked the trail at Flume Gorge in the Franconia Notch State Park, paying $8 each for the privilege. A wooden walkway criss-crosses cascading waterfalls in a way that has you checking the whereabouts of your car keys every thirty seconds. Or is that just me? Everybody took photographs that wouldn’t do justice to the subject matter, and I made friends with a ground squirrel called Hank who was stockpiling acorns like it was 1999.

Later we drove past the Old Man of the Mountain, or rather, where the Old Man had been. It was a rocky outcrop which from a certain angle looked like - hey! - an old man. It was New Hampshire’s most famous tourist attraction - it’s only tourist attraction - until it collapsed.
I wouldn’t want to have been the security guard on Old Man watch that night. Imagine having to ring up your boss and break it to him that the State’s crown jewels had somehow, like, you know, disappeared. “I dunno, Boss. I was just reading the paper, looking at the funnies, I went to reach for another donut and BANG! All that’s left now are his eyebrows.

We pushed on through the White Mountains along the Kancamagus Highway. The road twisted and hairpinned and climbed, but as scary mountain passes go, it was pretty tame.
The Americans build their roads too wide. They’ve taken all the joy out of being this close to a hideous death in a crumpled heap of burning Pontiac. Even the moose kept themselves to themselves. Somewhere along the line we crossed into Maine.

In the piano bar of the Kennebunkport Inn, Kennebunkport, there was a middle aged guy with a grey ponytail whose sick idea of a joke was singing the songs of Harry Chapin to a captive audience. Between each interminable tune, he’d reveal amusing pieces of tittle tattle about the life of the great Harry. At considerable length.
“He tells these wonderful stories in his songs. Three minute movies, ladies and gentlemen. Three minute movies.”
So why was it, I wondered, that the way he sung them, each tune lasted ten sodding minutes?

I drank too much and endured a restless night. When sleep finally slumped over me, I dreamed that I was the morning DJ on WOLD (DDDD).

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