Where’s the beef?

I really can’t work out how to shut these hotel room curtains; they’ve baffled me for a good hour on and off. I’ve just had to take a shit in full view of the hotel forecourt, whilst the Valet Parking guys walked past. I was tempted to lean out the window before I flushed and flicked them a dollar saying “Park this!”

But I digress! I really should write the day’s events in sequential order so that I don’t lose you dear reader, but do indulge me!

I checked out of the Chateau Hotel, New Orleans and got a taxi-ride, as I said, from this true old Molasses, Red-Dirt Marijuana southern gent. He told me, in his chocolaty southern drawl that he’d lost all his possessions in Katrina. He’d just paid off his house and the whole thing had been blown clean away from the face of the earth thanks, to the little angry lady called Katrina. BUT, he was happy. He went on, it had been hard for him to start again from scratch at 70, but he woke up every morning glad to be alive and with a smile on his face. What f**king genius! It really makes me think. Like the Palm Reader told me – Security and Control really are illusions –

“Katrina taught us that everything can be taken away from us in the snap of a finger. Don’t do that job at XXXX for security alone, it may give you the money which you’ll spend on a house and then that house could fall down! The Universe apparently seems to love yo arse, but she’ll soon lose patience with you and say ‘f**k this chick’ if you don’ start taking advantage of the opportunities she throws your way.”

I told him I was worried that if I didn’t have a secure job, even though I’d hate that job, I would be scared I might go insane. He replied that insanity is doing something you know you hate, and then doing it again!

I arrived in the little Lear Jet, convinced for most of the one hour flight that this weird guy in sunglasses sitting by the emergency exit was about to go insane and try to open the door at 35 thousand, shouting “F**karoo Banzai” and sucking us all out over the prairie below! Amazing view as we came in to land, which I think I’ve got a photo of – a flat enormous expanse of rolling green wheat fields. I’ve finally got a sense today of the scale of America – just how big it really is!

Oklahoma City airport is real workaday US, no tourists visible, all business. Went to the car hire place after collecting my massive Pilgrim’s Progress Bag and was told by four different companies that what I was asking for was called a “One-Way” and as rare as Hen’s Teeth. Bollocks! Finally, as a last resort, I went over to the Avis desk and met a lovely kind lady, visually reminiscent of the car-hire woman Steve Martin berates in Plane Trains & Automobiles- “Give me a f**king car, four f**king wheels and a f**king engine! Right f**king now!”


She gave me a smooth beast of a car – the Interceptor with air-con, it sounded like a dragon blowing out cedar wood smoke and looked like a silver bullet. She also dropped it down two price bands for me. BUT, with the insurance racking up at 40$ a day it works out at about $1500 for 10 days – THAT’S A GRAND! Add into the mix my $300 at the Chateau Hotel and $230 Okie flight and the fact I’ve still got 14 days to go – this could work out even more expensive than I thought.

I composed another desperate begging email to my Estate Agent from New Orleans yesterday, asking him to call me tomorrow at noon to put my mind at rest. So, long as we exchange in 48hrs then I’ll breathe easy with this enormous debt that I’m racking up!

Anyways, back to the business in hand: I rented the car and sat inside its cool leather interior for a full two minutes before I realized that I didn’t have a f**king clue how to drive it! The gear stick was in the steering column. A strange and mean looking pedal was where the clutch should’ve been AND it was an automatic.

I hollered back to the kid who’d walked me across from the terminal and he came back and walked me round the workings of the car, his expression a mixture of bemusement and genuine concern that I wouldn’t make it out of the car park, let alone the 3,000 miles of desert to Frisco. As I bunny-hopped out of the car park and shot onto the Expressway, the car bounced like I was in “Pimp My Ride”.

The Okie roads are wide, expansive and intimidating. With the exception of the time that I drove Toby to meet Kerry at Malaga airport, I think just now was the scariest bit of initial driving I’ve done; more incontinent than new continent.


Oklahoma City seems a soulless, bland, shopping center of a place so far – although to be fair I’m staying on the outskirts. This hotel is accurately named the “Comfort Inn”. $68 and clean, TV, big bed, free internet, comfortable. It does exactly what it says on the tin, but nothing more. The surrounding area is just one big empty world of hotel chains, petrol stations and concrete motorway service stations. Okie seems to be one long colorless slip road off the road to boredom. In fact, I’m starting to feel grey just writing about what’s outside this window.

I asked the girl at the hotel desk where was good to have a drink that didn’t involve taking the car and she raised her hand solemnly and pointed over my shoulder with a look that resembled Marley’s ghost. “Hooters”. I turn to look and see a building across the forecourt that looks like a “Little Chef” merged with a “Harvester”. Great. My heart sinks. I walk in. desperately needing a beer like a dog needs a bowl of water on a hot day.

 Hooters is an American chain of burger sex. It is a fundamental example of the difference between US and Britain. Sex sells, Sex sells Burgers. Imagine Ronald Macdonald with tits and Hamburgular wearing pedal pushers and a push-up bra.  Fast Food and Faster Women with all the waitresses wearing micro-mini skirts and skin tight orange bikini tops with wonder bras where required. I found it very surreal and surprisingly uncomfortable to have a sexy Midwest girl leaning over me, pushing her tits in my face as ketchup and beef juice drip down my chin.

I guess that’s maybe just one of my particular hang-ups though, finding eating a personal experience, perhaps because I’ve always been a little overweight and don’t want to be seen as greedy and therefore equate food with un-sexiness? Who knows, frankly who cares! I was finding it interesting watching these waitresses serving food to Okie families – The dad leering from beneath his baseball cap at her arse, the wife scowling at the dad, secretly gutted that she’d never had an arse as good as that, and the young 8 year old daughter watching it all and building an idea of what society expects from women in Midwest America and how success is measured and approval gained.


It makes me laugh how I rush into things without really thinking them through! What I mean by this is that I now have a £1000 car in my possession for ten days and no idea where I’m going.

Literally! I don’t even know where I am in relation to Oklahoma City! I have no map, no hotels booked and a journey across one of the world’s hottest deserts in the height of summer. Hardcore!

I LOVE IT! I’ve just looked on the free internet at the Route 66 map and luckily there is an Interstate road, (Interstate 40) that seems to do the job to Los Angeles and except for certain sections of desert desertedness, it’s more or less populated by small towns, in case of breakdown (mechanical or mental!)


I must remember to go to the bookshop tomorrow and get a map. Even though I’ve written down a few town names as pointers, the reality is that the drive goes near Edwards Air force Base and Area 51 in New Mexico.

I don’t want to be abducted by Aliens or shot at by some Marine grunt who thinks I’m an alien. Mmmmm, this is getting exciting, on the road tomorrow. I still fancy having that Greyhound experience though, so maybe I’ll go north from San Francisco once I’ve dropped the car off? Right! That’s enough for now. I went to the 7/11 and bought a couple of huge cans of Bud, more like the size of kegs than cans, once I realized that “Hooters” wasn’t going to go the distance. So now I’m going to sit back on my king sized bed, drink ‘em and try to find some soft porn on the TV.

I’m sitting in the car at the “Cherokee Service Diner” off Interstate 40. (I-40). I’ve just eaten a dry saw dusty Buffalo steak washed down with dishwasher Pepsi and I am slowly, painfully coming to terms with what a massive undertaking it actually is to drive to San Francisco. The landscape here on the Great Plains of Oklahoma is unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is SO OPEN AND VAST and SO FLAT that it’s actually freaking me out.


I want to run and hide from the universe. Everything is TOO BIG and I am too small. For the first time on the trip, people in the diner couldn’t understand what I was saying. Everyone was obese.


I guess there’s just nothing to do out here in the middle of nowhere on Pa Kent’s farm except eat! I don’t really want to say anymore about the vast green emptiness of the land right now, because I honestly feel on the verge of an attack of anxiety.

Driving just now, with nothing for hundreds of miles to my left, right, above or below, except endless wind and tornadoes, it feels like I am totally alone in a small metal boat adrift on an endless empty green sea.



In Oklahoma, no-one can hear you scream! I’ve packed up the meat and now heading off for the Texas border. I’m steaming it to Amarillo in the hope that the mountains will hide me from the relentless gaze of the heavens. One small little matchbox car driving across the huge green carpet of God’s lounge!



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