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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 63: 26 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysTransfer to another ship, my tenth so far. It's also the biggest, the most comfortable and by far the fastest. But it's moored in concrete and hasn't moved an inch in twenty-two years. It's the R.M.S. Queen Mary, striving to maintain some dignity despite being stuck in a pond and clamped to the shore by a modern steel and glass umbilical of elevators and service towers, on one of which is attached an illuminated sign confirming her new status as 'Hotel Queen Mary'. An arrow, pointing inland, invites me to 'Cross the Parking Lot to London Towne'. I suppose I should feel at home, but it isn't easy.

The first words addressed to me on American soil come from a thin, epicene registration clerk, with a spiky peroxide blond haircut. He punches a keyboard and looks up only briefly, just to ascertain I'm not a gorilla or armed with an axe. 'Hi, I'm Randy.' With a flick of the fingers Randy summons someone of a different ethnic group to carry my bags to Stateroom 306 on 'B' deck. We pass groups of partying Americans. They are twice as big and twice as loud as anyone else in the world. It's not just the grunts and laughs and whoops but also the sheer volume of the voices which ring out as if they are trying to communicate over vast distances. I feel like a mouse amongst bull elephants. In no time AES (Arrival Euphoria Syndrome) gives way to PAP (Post-Arrival Pathos), which in turn gives way to TT (Transition Trauma).

Once on land everything accelerates. No sooner have I arrived in a place than I have to make plans for getting out. The only boat across the Atlantic leaves from New York. I have now to cross to the East Coast as soon as possible, which is easier said than done in the land where any alternative to flying is not really taken seriously. There is an express to Chicago, called the Desert Wind, but it doesn't blow until Monday afternoon.

Whether I like it or not I have a day and a half to cool off in L.A.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 63
  • Date: 26 November
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Los Angeles - California
  • Book page no: 203

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