Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

travelogue 30

beaulieu-sur-dordogne 3
beaulieu-sur-dordogne 3 by Tim Caynes

its got to be here somewhere, I mean, this is a campsite. so is that. I can see the river from here, its just down there. hang on, lets go back in the town.

its a peculiarity of the towns on the river dordogne that all the best riverside spots are taken by bloody campsites. except it doesn’t necessarily tell you that, as you’re walking around with a cool box full of jambon and brie, in your map de tourisme, which is clamped in your teeth. “but look, that’s (point with nose) a bridge and there’s (point with foot) the river, but that’s (point with pelvis, to concerned looks from passers-by) another campsite. we can’t get over the bridge unless we’ve got the right canoe with us.” as it turns out, we’re slightly in the wrong place on the map, which isn’t surprising, as its not really a map, more a ‘representation’ of the geographical features, but done in thick orange lines and symbols without any explanation. “but surely that’s the abbey, there. look, there’s a cross. no, wait, maybe that’s the hospital. anyway, look, we’re here, and that’s the river. no, hang on, its the scenic walk, but its blue. BLUE.” when we realise we’ve been upside down for an hour, the cheese is ‘a bit runny’ (“I don’t care how f**king runny it is”, etc.), and the baguettes have escaped from the bits of paper wrapped around them and keep slithering off like wheaty snakes, landing in the conveniently placed plops of poodle poo, from which, you are never far, around here.

we finally find the bit by the river ‘like what we saw on the postcard in that shop daddy’ and lo, there’s even a bit of grass and a few benches. after lunch, we were entertained by a nuclear fallout ice lolly which could actually bend and was a nasty shade of of blue (‘that’ll never come off his tshirt you know. why did you buy that?’) and we just sat around for a good while, watching the campsite on the other side of the river and wondering what it would be like sharing that patch of ground with those other people in the caravans pulled up right next to you, even though they’re quite friendly and would probably offer to take your children to a play park somewhere for a few hours. we decided it would be godawful, and then headed back to the villa we’d paid about a thousand pounds for, but hey, it’s got a brick barbeque (which we never used).

travelogue 29

gouffre de padirac 1
gouffre de padirac 1 by TIm Caynes

“no, we’ll go tomorrow morning. we’ll get up early and we’ll get there before everyone else does. well. look at the queue. no we can’t, its raining. r-a-i-n-i-n-g. can you see? anyway, its four o’clock now. let’s just go back to the house and have a nice cup of tea and then we can work out what we’re doing tomorrow. yes we can come here tomorrow. yes. YES.”

not the day before had we been sat by the cafe pool watching our skin peel in the thirty-five degree heat reading about rupert everett’s passage and feeling very pleased with ourselves when up this morning and window opened with a flourish to see a lank of low cloud lapping around the hillside and very nearly piddling into the bedroom whereupon we unpacked the kag-in-a-bags and determined today would officially be not like it was yesterday I mean cold it might rain, yes r-a-i-n. so we trit-trotted off to the nearest enormous hole in the ground and expected it might be a bit busy at this time of year but I mean it won’t be that bad.

“look, it starts there, goes round there and then it doubles back round that tree there and see, look, it goes back round again and there’s the end, right over there.” “I don’t know, at least an hour.” “an hour? more like two hours.” “two hours?” “yes, look, those people were there when we went to the cafe for that drink (plus that mysterious extra tourist drink inserted in the bill), and now they’re just there.” “who?” “them.” “who?” “them. THEM. oh, je m’excuse, pardon.” “right. that’s it then. what are we going to do instead? its too early to go back now and there’s nothing else around here.” “there’s that insect place.” “insect place?” “yes. that insect place we passed up the road.” “what, you mean, like a hive or something?” “nooo. that insect place. insectopedia. insectipedo. insecticidia. something.” “oh, that ‘insectopia‘ place? with the huge insect outside it?” “yeees. that place.” “oh, well, that’s not going to very interesting is it?” “WELL WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST THEN?”

in the end, insidopia insectopia was a reasonable way to spend the hour you’ve got when the place you really came to see just down the road is overflowing with travelling badgers and gypsies. there’s insects in there. which is kind of interesting. I guess. on the way out there was a small shop that sold huge battery-powered bugs made in ipswich that wheel around the floor blarting out inane playground taunts at well-over-threshold volume which, naturally, we bought two of, and spent the evening watching them wheel around the living room floor, blarting out inane playground taunts at well-over-threshold volume, until one of them got stuck under a foot by mistake and its wiry guts fell out yes we can get you another one, tomorrow, maybe.

bright and early we’re off to a hole in the ground. its porridge weather, so we clad ourselves in nylon and pile into the megane scenic and sing songs from joseph although I’m secretly singing songs from manic street preachers in my head but nobody knows and there’s an inner calm from doing that that makes me almost drive into a river. as we pull up, a queue is forming, but that’s just for the pleasure of weeing into a hole in the ground (a different hole), so we pass straight on to the ticket office and I say something in french that I’m assuming is correct and lo, I get five tickets for the hole in the ground and we’re off kids, come on, we can go in the shop afterwards, oh, they’ve got those bugs too, great.

descending the slippery metalwork while holding at least a couple of hoods the air gets musty and damp and so we overtake the couch party from derbyshire and everything’s alright again. there’s not so much as a queuing system for the underground boats, more of a ‘put your hand up if you think they’ve asked you to and apologetically jump the queue for no reason’ thing going on, so I stick my hand up for no reason and we’re ushered onto a flat-bottomed wreck of a pretend boat affair which is supposed to transport us 2 kilometers or something along a freezing bottomless river to the largest cavern in europe (all caverns are ‘the largest in europe’) and back again, which, in the end, it does, and very interesting it is down there as well, but I’m not going to tell you about it because its teatime. you can look for yourself.

travelogue 28

another travelogue 13
another travelogue 13 by Tim Caynes

“look mummy, there’s those people we saw on holiday last year that we walk past every day” “no, it can’t be” “mummy, it IIIIIS”. and it was. they had also just entered the pit of hell that, on this particular day, happened to be the car park at the eurotunnel terminal. we had made good time from norwich and we might even have been early enough to catch an earlier train under the sea. I mean, we were booked on the 11:50, and it was11:10 now, as we slipped off the M20 and headed for the terminal gates, our windows down, singing songs from the shows, with the wind in our hair and thoughts of aquitaine in our heads.

“what’s this hold up?” “I’m not sure. it just looks like there a few people waiting behind these lorries. see? up there? it says ‘freight delays, so we’re alright” “is a megane scenic freight?” “no, it’s an em pee vee, a car” “so we’ll be alright then?” “yes” mind you, this is taking a little while. it’s probably always like this. “it wasn’t like this when I came before. we just went straight through.” oh. we’ll be alright. we’re early.

we’d already planned our route by sticking lots of stickers we found down the back of the sofa onto a huge map of france that was so big we couldn’t unfold it in the car. our first stop was a youth hostel just outside orléans and mme niceperson had confirmed our family room so that we didn’t have to share a bathroom with any strange people or anything like that. ooh no. we had to be there before 11 at night, however, as the reception would close to keep the wolves out, or something, but we’d be there way before then, anyway, frolicking in the meadows eating runny cheese. but this wasn’t quite right. we got to the terminal gate and I’d already written off an early departure when a sign on a faded scrolling lcd pointed out that, in fact, there was a 90 minute delay on all crossings. 90 minutes? that’s an entire video of fawlty towers. ah well. it’s a nice day. we can probably boy a magazine and sit in a park somewhere, under a communications system that will keep us informed regarding every development.

I did think that the little posts with lcd letters were a quite twee little thing. you wait for a letter to appear, and if it’s the same as the one on the cardboard coathanger they gave you at the gate, it’s time for you to go. they didn’t have any letter on right now though. perhaps they only put a letter on there when there’s a new one. “what letter is it?” “there isn’t one, its still just an asterisk” “what’s an asterisk?” “you see that thing there? that’s an asterisk” “no it isn’t” “yes it is. what do you think it is?” “its a star” “yes, well, I suppose it is a star”. we’ve been waiting about an hour now. its a nice day and everything, and its ok sitting on the grass here, as more and more cars come past, to find that, actually, the car park is completely full and so they’ll park on the grass. where you are. there’s not been a letter at all. we should probably see what’s going on. and my sandwiches will be getting warm in the boot. I hate it when my sandwiches get warm in the boot. no, it’s an asterisk. I told you that already. sorry.

inside the terminal building there’s a froth of activity, mainly around eurotunnel employees giving out drinks vouchers, wearing pained expressions. the terminal building is much like any other terminal building in the UK, for any other mode of transport. in other words, its a bit rubbish, and you want to leave. except the information desk is in here, as is whsmith, of course, and I’m hankering for a ginsters and red bull. duly dispatched to the information desk, I wait behind a number of people who are lurching over the counter with what look like steam coming out of their tasteless shirt collars. I’m sure there’s no reason to get quite so emboiled. “FOUR HOURS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN FOUR HOURS?” count backwards. walk away. “they said they delay is now four hours” “FOUR HOURS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN FOUR HOURS?” “that’s what I said” “but FOUR HOURS.” I know.

“we should put some sun cream on.” too late. never mind. by now, cars are actually parking on top of each other and the tuts of the middle class can be heard from four miles away. still no letter. those stupid letters are useless. “it’s still a star daddy. it should be a letter” “ITS NOT A BLOODY STAR ITS A BLOODY ASTERISK YES IT SHOULD BE A LETTER. IT SHOULD BE A LETTER ‘D’ LIKE WE HAVE HANGING ON OUR MIRROR, BUT ITS NOT, ITS AN AS-TER-ISK.” dispatched once more to the information desk, there is now a quagmire of venomous plebs waving ‘A’s and ‘B’s around and saying things like “then why did your colleague sat THERE tell me not HALF AN HOUR AGO that letter ‘A’ would be boarding at THREE?” and “so I have to cancel NOW to get a refund? can I not just cancel it later online? we’re going to get a ferry” and “we’ll have to get our tent our right now, eh girls? nyyyeeeeehahahahaahahaaaaa!”. it says on the magnetic board at the back of the desk that ‘C’ and ‘D’ are boarding. bingo. “no, ‘C’ and ‘D’ aren’t boarding yet sir” “but you’ve just stuck a magnetic ‘C’ and ‘D’ on that board behind you” “hang on sir” … ” ‘C’ and ‘D’ are boarding now sir.” excellent. just time to…oh, not there isn’t.

after four hours, a little queue to get through customs will be alright, just so long as we get on the bloody train. it’ll probably only be about half an hour now, this is the quick bit.

three hours later, we’re still stuck at stage two. stage two is the stage that you definitely can not back out of. its the stage after passport control and customs, where you’re actually stateless and the only way is forward. suspiciously, there was a handy mobile grill stop at the head of the queuing system we found ourselves parked in. as it was now 6pm, we needed the tea we’d planned to have somewhere on the other side of paris, but right now, we’re just on the other side of a checkpoint – we can still SEE the terminal. “um. four of the large sausages” “dave, four?” “er. yeah. thas the last” “yeah four. any drink?” “do you have a cup of tea” “well, we have warm water that we turn brown and add a skin to. that’s a pound” “I’ll have one” “there you go love. four sausages. that’s what you call your BIG DOGS” “oh. right. thanks.” of course, no sooner had we settled down at the side of the vacuous road side under what looked like a military installation of some sort to eat our BIG DOGS and squirt ketchup all over ourselves, than there was some kind squawking noise through some kind of loudspeaker signalling some kind of movement in some kind of direction. in fact, it was, finally, our safe passage to the trains granted, and we followed the languid dutch couple in the toyota celica down the ramp, across the platform, up the ramp and onto the train.

“are we on the train now?” “yes, we’re on the train now” “ooh, it smells funny” “I need a wee.” eight hours after we arrived, we departed. we’d missed all our sticky checkpoints on our unfoldoutable map and so we were just making it up now. in the end, we’d actually get as far as orléans, just eight hours late, whereupon we would check into hotel de sleaze and start itching. we had apparently been caught up in ‘operation stack‘, following an outage in one of the rail tunnels and so there had just been one train going backwards and forward all day. some people were actually stuck IN the train, IN the tunnel for three hours, so it could have been worse. of course, not a single person from eurotunnel at any point told us anything about anything that was going on the whole time we were on their property, and I expect those stupid lcd posts have STILL got STARS on them.

travelogue 27

travelogue 27
travelogue 27 by Tim Caynes

all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. all wor k and no play makes jack a dull boy. all work and no playm akes Jack a dull boy. all Work and no play makes ja ck adull boy. all w ork and no play makes jack a dullb oy. all wor kand n o play make s jack a d u ll bo y.a ll w o rk an d nopla y mkes jack a dlboy. all txt nd no kybd mks jack a dumb boy. get me 2 the arprt im going 2 crck. no no no its estes prk not brmfld. I want 2 go 2 DIA. denver. d e n v e r. yes. all sat nav and no driving makes tim a numb boy.

a few hours before the flight and so I did what I meant to do last time. I went to the stanley hotel and pulled funny faces at myself in the mirror. I was hilarious. there’s a dog adventure playground by the lake at estes park. there were dogs adventure playing, which really meant runniing around and refusing to follow their owners over wooden ramps and through hoops. it was entertaining for a while. then a couple of elks scared away all the fish and my camera started making a strange buzzing sound in my ear as I squatted by the power station to take a postcard shot of some ice. with a bench in it. funny, I’ve got a bench on my back and here’s one in the lake. fancy.

only 23 hours to go. then I’ll get ill and watch March turn into a disaster.

travelogue 26

travelogue 26
travelogue 26 by Tim Caynes

lookit. over the edge sweetie. lookit! a train! AAAAAAAAAAAH! MOMMEEEEEE! it’s only 1000 feet down. and we’re still in the visitor centre. for goodness sake.

apparently this was all built by men in stripey suits with toothpicks and saliva. then 100 years later somebody jumps off it attached by a rubber band while cooking waffles in the shape of richard nixon. you’ve got to like that. as it turns out, it’s just a bunch of planks held together with chicken wire and really hard pencils so you won’t get me trundling the kia sorrento over there. I’ll walk thanks. maybe I’ll hang around a bit to see how wobbly it goes. you’re not coming over in that are you. wait. no, wait. I want to get off. damn.

I got up early to avoid the queue, which was just as well, as it’s midday and there is 1 person in front of me at the pay booth for the royal gorge bridge at canon city. there are 4 more people actually in the park. and that’s it. there must be a rerun of the 1998 superbowl on the telly or something. or this will be really boring. I drove for 3 hours to see this, so I hope not. actually, it’s not. I’ve got my w1 and so I’ll be spending the next 3 hours lying down in the middle of a suspension bridge taking pictures of nissans as they roll over my head and leaning out of the cable car window to get a shot of the railroad over half a mile down there in the valley. I’ll also spend 30 minutes taking pictures of myself looking in a mirrored window of a faux colorado trading post trying to get a mountain reflected in my sunglasses reflected in the window without breaking into parallax.

I walk over. I walk back. I get the cable car over. I walk around a bit. I get the cable car back. I check out the closed cafes and foodstalls. I go down to the floor of the gorge in the steepest incline railway in the world. I go back up to the top of the gorge in the steepest incline railway in the world. I eat an apple. I get in the kia surrender and drive off the edge of a cliff, which was also built by the same people who build the bridge, but on their days off, which they didn’t have, because they were all murderers and tax frauds banged up in the prison capital of colorado, good old canon city. I get lost by a dirt bike track and then head back to the hotel where I eat the head of a buffalo and lie down in the hallway jibbering about man bags.

travelogue 25

travelogue 25
travelogue 25 by Tim Caynes

it was just an ordinary night in flatz. the storage hustlers and the winos were huddled in the corner, leering at pictures of cluster farms in ontario. jimmy was at the bar, cleaning the last flecks of spit from the beer glasses and casting his eye over tonight’s late-night stragglers. 2 program managers were having a cat-fight by the concierge desk. nobody looked up. and I was waiting for a friend. a friend from california who’d contacted me the other night, with information he said would ‘open the lid on this like christmas’. I was intrigued. but I’d been here before, back in ’67, mr white had blown the roof off the willow road operation and all hell broke loose. some folks hadn’t forgotten that, and so he’s still hiding under a pile manuals in the bay area.

as midnight approaches, I head to my room, and I wait in the shadows for the call that will tell me we’re on. the wait seems like forever. the whole damn thing goes round in my head, until I’m dizzy with images of strip joints, barbeques, formula 1 and video games. he’s not gonna show. there’s footsteps in the hall and my hand moves over the table, where the dark wood reflects my piece in the dim light of the table lamp. there’s 2 voices talking outside the door, sounds like east coast, and I can just make out some of their drawl. “yeah, yeah. it’ll be fixed by tomorrow”, “no, no, I got danny coming over, he’s gonna give them a little piece of advice”, “yeah, we’re wired. ok, let’s go”. click. a key turns in the door. I grab my piece and I’m moving from the chair across the floor, so I’m behind the door as it bursts open.

“there you are sir, 1 bottle of zinfandel, and a blue cheese burger with fries. can I help you with anything else tonight sir?” “er, no, that’ll be fine. what time is it?” “I have 12 thirty sir.”

I got a free cheesecake. yum! saturday! excellent! dribble dribble dribble.

travelogue 24

travelogue 24
travelogue 24 by Tim Caynes

google are having a conference downstairs. it’s not all of google, just a few people who look like they’ve been sucked into the vortex and have just been told how much adspace to sell. they don’t like the dessert downstairs. they’ve come up to the poolside grill with their plates of free food and free beer and they’re sitting between me and NBA highlights. my pizza is nice. theirs is not. I order cheesecake. they order cheesecake. I eat mine, including that rockhard sugar swirl they drizzle on stuff round here. they don’t eat theirs and they head back down to the conference room where I can hear the fray piping up the stairs to signal the end of dinner and the start of team building. they’re all about 24. I’m 107.

I say thank you very much all the time and sound like I mean it and invariably get into a courtesy fight with the bar staff who really have to thank me more than I thank them. that doesn’t happen at home. the glasses are all clean over here as well. I retreat to my room. it has 4 internal doors. for some reason I find that funny enough to write about it. I can open them all and run around the room in a circuit. each section has it’s own lighting. if I run sideways and squint it’s like being on a train. nowehere, however, is quite bright enough to see properly. I suspect that’s deliberate somehow. the brightest spots in the room are if you are REAL CLOSE to a mirror or sat in front of my new ferrari with a screen that’s a bit like the briefcase in pulp fiction – I go ooooh like I’ve witnessed the meaning of life in a luminescent glow every time I lift the lid. I spend about 2 hours reading emails I can’t file and by the time I’m just making stuff up in monthly reports I figure I should go to bed. which means I’ll do something else for 4 hours until 3 a.m., like staring myself out in the mirror for no reason. I shouldn’t be left alone with Jane’s Addiction for too long.

I don’t see anyone else round here, so you must be looking at me, etc…

travelogue 23

travelogue 23
travelogue 23 by Tim Caynes

bathroom restroom toilet lavatory stand up sit down hang about get out faucet tap manbag cool neat ready all set large gaps small gaps unisex gents ladies men women ally mcbeal ally mccoist football football iwork flex flexible reservation camp tim caynes

nice to put a name to a face at last. sorry, a face to a name. so how often do you come to menlo park? all the time? oh. so where are you? right. I’ve got a meeting with x at 12 and then I”m heading all the way to the other end of the campus because I think that’s where building 18 is, but I’ll realize that it’s actually at the other end and it’ll start raining and I’ll wonder how everybody else gets from one end to the other round here only to discover that you can walk around the edge like a rat scurrying through the connecting doors between each building so as I had my pass in my jacket pocket all the time because this is the only time I wear this jacket when I come out here that’s just what I do and we’re sitting here talking about Q1 and how many countries there actually are in the world and I’m thinking about the way everybody has maps on the wall over here but they’re only maps of the US at least in the offices I’ve been in.

tonight I’ll install second life on the ferrari and buy a shirt from an alternative store in the south west corner for L$49 only to realize that what I obviously should have bought is an enormous penis as I erroneously teleport to someplace in the top 20 to see what the fuss is about.

travelogue 22

travelogue 22
travelogue 22 by Tim Caynes

after granola and danish I headed to menlo park, via stanford and page mill road, for some reason. you know I only come out here to drive around in circles. as it turns out, there was still snow at the top of page mill and so I threw the chevy cobalt into a left-hander and hand-braked into someone’s observatory where a cowboy was practising whipping himself in the sunshine. I figured I should probably go to the office.

halfway down the hill I get flagged down by chips and pull up at the end of a short line of SUVs with bumper stickers saying things like “sunshine country” and “the neverending sunshine state” and “I love my sunshine county” and “if you can read this, we’re not related” and poncho gets me to wind down my window, which obviously I don’t know how to do, but eventually just step out of the car instead. it seems there is a small pile-up in the middle of the road and I can see over poncho’s shoulder that a 20-something baseball cap is standing by his wrecked honda and nervously eyeing a 40-something handbag who’s pulling the wings from his wrecked BMW. some old blokes are scratching themselves and doing shoulder laughs at each other. I’m going to be late.

just then, mr bleasby calls me on my cellphone, which almost has me jumping into the path of the tow truck. nobody ever calls me. where do I want the ferrari sent? menlo park or broomfield? I dunno. the UK? you’ll want it while you’re here, right? er, I guess. are you in the office? I’m on page mill road. what? um, I guess we should send in to broomfield and I’ll throw some trousers away or something to fit it in my suitcase. is it 64-bit? etc.

about 30 minutes later and we’re snaking back down page mill, with me at the back of the snake, thankfully, lest I get intimidated by the locals and careen off the roadside into a swimming pool. I have to meet neal at lunchtime. it’s not lunchtime. it’s alright. I know I’ll take the wrong turning and end up in redwood city or something

by the time I’d gone about 5 miles on middlefield and ended up in redwood city, I was approaching lateness. I mean, redwood city is nice and everything, but I’m supposed to be 5 miles THAT WAY. where’s the freeway. ah. there. left lane san francisco. right. no. left. hang on. NONONONONO. screeeeeech. I hold up my hand to the carnage behind me because that makes it alright that I’ve just crossed 4 lanes at a 90 degree angle. san jose. let’s rock.

it doesn’t matter which campus you go to, everyone seems to be hiding. they’re all at home now, you see. if you’re going meet somebody, you have a provide a google earth file to find which flex office they’re in. as it turns out, it’s 2143 or something. lunchtime. ooh look. jonathan schwartz.

travelogue 21

travelogue 21
travelogue 21 by Tim Caynes

ah. homeland security. they checked all my hold luggage and put everything back in kind of like it was before. except for all the stuff like shirts and jackets, which are folded in such a way as to make one enormous crease across the front you can’t ever iron out. and the electrical adaptors and cables they scattered about while checking for detonators. I think they also took my laptop out and played solitaire for while, but I can’t be sure.

it’s cold. I knew it would be, so I’d packed my dad’s killy skiing jacket just in case and as it’s still in my suitcase, I might just put that on for the shuttle ride to rental central. I like that shuttle. I like the way it tells you to “set the luggage cart brake to on” every 10 seconds. I like the way it stops at the post office. I like the way it accellerates like it’s lost control as you drop down the incline to rental central and the group of swiss skiers who haven’t set their luggage cart brake to on are now chasing it through the carriage. I like the way I don’t have to walk anywhere unlike the fricken 17 miles I have to walk at london heathrow just to get to the next terminal to get the travelator to the elevator to get the escalator which takes me to the heathrow express which takes me to the next terminal where I walk another 17 miles to get a rotovator from mr motorvator to get the conveyor to the upper layer where the fast bag drop has a sign on top because the line has stopped because the plane’s got lost.

my names not on the board. it never is. someone concatenated my name and title as “timmr” on my avis preferred profile and now nobody can say my name or apparently type it into a hand-held device. it’s alright though, the people at the preferred desk are very nice and because my car’s never ready they always give me a nice new one that’s just been cleaned. even if it is a red chevy cobalt LT, which in this case, stands for Lamentable Throttle.

I did something on the flight that I’ve never done before. I took out a GUIDE BOOK and started reading it. yes, a san francisco and bay area eyewitness guide I got back in 1996. I don’t normally give myself away as a tourist and spend ages in queues and as planes taxi to terminals just sitting there looking like I’ve done it all before and I’m not going to panic because I know when they’re going to call my seat number/open the doors/start the baggage carousel etc. so I’m just cool waiting for the moment that I stroll up to and pick off my suitcase and wander off leaving a bunch of holidaymakers thinking “why did his bag get off so early?” and I slip through customs high-fiving the national guard and then all the stall holders give me a wave as I walk through the concourse and my butler is waiting in the rolls. well, it’s not really like that of course, but I have travelled a few times and I don’t like people peering over my shoulder so I normally just make myself invisible. today though, I’ve got a few hours to kill in san francisco before I have to get to the hotel and as I always go to Colorado these days, I’ve not had a few hours in san francisco for a while, so I’m gonna do a bit of sightseeing that I haven’t done for years. so I’m planning how much of the 49 mile scenic drive I might do in 4 hours. in the rain. in a chevy cobalt Lacklustre Traction. when I can’t really be bothered. I got really excited about the places I’d never been, like twin peaks and the zoo and the presidio, which probably all look great in the california sunshine. but not today.

in the end I decided I’d do a bit of streets of san francisco/magnum force/dirty harry and check out some of those seedy places under bridges where they always find strangled people and the mayor tells them they better not terrorize the city this time with their maverick cop antics and then they’re off the case because the chief of police is in the pocket of the main suspect who’s a notorious drug cartel leader but you go ahead and solve the case anyway with your enormous gun and some reckless driving around telegraph hill. the starting point for that cheery tour was fort point under the golden gate bridge where I thought I might at least bump into michael douglas in a callbox calling in backup. as it turns out, I squeezed in a few miles of the 49 mile drive, the piers, fort collins, the presidio and some other stuff along the way. the presidio is strange, no? once I actually got to fort point, the rain came down, but not before I’d got as close to the underside of the bridge as possible, which isn’t very close, as it’s all fenced off these days, presumably in case I had some kind of warhead in my shoe, and had a quick look around the fort, which had closed access to the roof because of the lack of railings and so all in all it was a bit miserable but I kind of liked it that way and when you saw there were people surfing under the bridge regardless, it all made sense in a california kind of way.

after that I headed to palo alto to check into the hotel and spent the next 2 hours wondering what to eat and taking self portraits using folded key cards and mirrors. I ate a burger. the oscars were on. helen mirren won. I spoke to the bar staff in my best british accent. no, I don’t know her. no, she’s acting, that’s not the real queen.