This bar is REAL Redneck to the hilt. I feel like a spastic version of Hugh Grant, apologizing with a furred-up thick tongue for my own English existence! Those of you reading this probably think I’m acting over the top, but I’d like to see any of you sit here alone after the 350 miles I’ve just driven from Oklahoma City and not feel uncomfortable! This is the real cowboy deal. “Hang ‘em High!” So much occurred on the drive that I’d love to vomit out onto this page, but it’s all momentarily been erased from my brain. I think I need to chill out and get another drink.
TODAY WAS A TOUGH DAY.
A workingman’s day. An all business day. It started round 8 ironing blouses and phoning my Estate Agent. He told me through the crackle that I should prepare myself that it could take up to another two weeks just to exchange. K*NT.
I printed off the contract which my lawyer had emailed to me on the hotel computer, signed it and drove round Okie trying to find a Post Office.
I finally found a kind of Post place in the middle of a supermarket and sent it off for a dollar seventy cents. It will take 7 – 11 working days to reach.
I hope Texans aren’t the “UK Northerners” of the USA, because Northerners typically hate me, and I’m already picking up a bit of a “Public School Twat” vibe in here...
I keep checking the clock on the wall as if I’m waiting for something to happen. Why is it that I always need to know what the time is, even when I don’t?! Very uptight.
To reiterate, this bar has no windows – based on the assumption that if it did, bottles, chairs and Damocless would come smashing out through them! There are Bull-Horns above my table and the hardest cattle-wrangling men and women you ever did see ranching round the bar.
I feel like Jeremy Spake from Airport. There’s a Jukebox in the corner I’ve just checked. I’d love to get 10 bucks worth of quarters and stick on “Fragile” by Sting 50 times, picking up a bar stool and fending off the Rednecks who came near to try and switch it off. “No! Leave it! Get Back! Have some f**king respect for Sting!” I’d stand more chance if I were to wear a white hood in Compton.
They’ve just set up Poker tables in the corner of the room, right by where I’m sitting.
I wish I knew how to play Texas Hold ‘Em, or in fact any sort of Poker! as it would be a great way to meet people tonight. Today is a wake up call for me.
I romantically thought that if I could get to the real small untouristy rural towns of backstreet America then I could do what Hopper and Fonda failed to do – find the real America and impress them with my English sophistication.
How arrogant! This is real life here! No-one gives a shit about the fact I’m a transient from London.
They’re just here after a hard day’s work, drinking and getting on with their lives. As I guess it should be. As it has to be.
An hour later. Three drinks down now, the fourth on its way. The music has relaxed a bit and so have I.
An old dude in classic Stetson and gingham shirt came over and asked if I’m playing in the poker, I told him the truth that I didn’t know how to play. He walks off.
COME ON. GET WITH IT! THIS IS WHAT I WANTED! THE REAL REDNECK VIBE. DON’T MOAN NOW!
People are really finding it difficult to understand my accent in this place. I really want to try speaking in a Texan drawl to see if it helps (like I did with Roy, from Detroit on Thursday night in Nawlins, Roy the racist thug who’s dad gave him a gun when he turned 16 so he could “protect himself from the n*ggers”. But now they know I’m kind of English, they’d just think I was taking the piss.
Americans on the whole, so far, and especially Texans have been very plain-speaking, a good thing. They also seem animalistically aware of when I am looking at them, be it on the street, on trains or in bars, even when I’m wearing sunglasses.
Perhaps the English are just as aware when someone is looking at them but fear confrontation more?
Americans also have no fear of saying “Hello or Howdy” even though they can’t be one hundred percent sure I’m even looking at them! They are initiating contact for a change, rather than me having to.
Anyway. Back to today. After the Post Office I had a morning coffee in Borders Bookshop and bought five maps, one for each of the states I’ll be travelling through.
They’re great maps – $5 fold out detailed. Real bonnet-covering head scratching style. It’s incredible to think that the I-40 stretches from Chicago in the north east to Los Angeles in the bottom south west! I’m starting to realize that distance really isn’t London to Brighton! I ask the barmaid how big the bets get on these poker nights.
She winks at me knowingly and tells me that gambling is illegal in the state of Texas! They electrocute people here in a big metal chair, but don’t let you place a $ on the Grand National! I step outside to watch the fiery red Texan sunset. I’m on the border of Texas and New Mexico here for f*ck’s sake! What’s going on?! This really isn’t Wealdstone!
I’m back in the Travelodge room that I’ve rented for the night. I’d got bored of driving round the tumbleweed streets of Amarillo, trying to find the place the Lonely Planet recommended.
I got that sense that if I didn’t pull over soon then I was surely going to have a prang. When I start to feel like that, I know it’s time to stop! The room is basic and very much “Leaving Las Vegas” style.
It’s a motel in the shape of the letter C with a communal pool in the center. $48 a night. Fantastic price.
Driving past all the motels on Route 40 today, they all say with a sense of pride that they have HBO channel on the banners that litter the freeway, as if this is a massive selling point over the rival motels.
They never say they’ve got Fox, or CNN, or Movie Channel, or even just the fact they have cable at all. No. JUST HBO.
Perhaps this is because HBO is such a cutting edge risk taking channel compared to the rest of middle-America programming that people actually stay here just to watch it? Angry Dad’s go to the fridge in their house down the road, swipe a 6 pack and shout out “That’s it Ronetta, I’ve had enough of your arse. I’m checking into the Motel to watch me some HBO!”
I’ve had enough of writing for the minute – I need to plan my route for tomorrow before I get too stoned, to avoid another cock up like today. Too much driving and too intense.
HASTA MANANA BEAUTIFUL READER! May you stay with me till the end.
Dawn breaks through my window Texan style. Rednecks break through my door, chainsaw style. No, just the maid with the voice of a chainsaw. I’ve just time to tell y’all about a weird dream I had last night before I have to check out.
I dreamt that I was watching the Rolling Stones play a ridiculously small gig at a church hall in St.Albans, England.
People had paid a lot of money for the tickets, but Mick Jagger was making a very low effort. After only three songs they walked off stage and the small audience started moaning and booing.
Then the band came back on and broke into “Vertigo” by U2 – the audience got very excited at this thinking that Jagger had invited Bono to come along as guest singer, but Jagger started singing himself and forgot the words and
“The Edge” from U2 came out and started dancing like a prick pretending he was Bono. “Look at me, I’m Bono” he was shouting.
The audience groaned and started leaving. Now what the f**k is that about? I must’ve had too much Texan cheese on that steak last night. Right. I’m outta here before they call the Sheriff on account of the stink in this room. Adios Texas. Hola New Mexico!