We Were Actually Quite Far From Barstow...

Heathrow is the last trick we play on tourists, a mean-spirited and cruel device to grind them into the ground for having the temerity of leaving our shores. Under the guise of construction, which seems to have been in progress since the airport opened in the 1960s, we huddle passengers through dimly lit corridors, along cheap wooden panelling, and queue after queue until their will is beaten into a bloody pulp.

I felt sorry for those who turned up half an hour after I arrived; the queue to the check-in desk had snaked past the overflow; the poor fools that attempted to join us were taken aside by officials and shown the overflow queue, stretching back towards infinity. You could see the holiday joy and elation disappear from their face, replaced by disbelief and annoyance as they trudged to the back of Terminal 3.

Once you manage to clear check-in, a trip upstairs leads you to the queue to security control. Boarding passes are inspected; your reward is access to another queue. This time, it's X-Ray. Once you've survived that experience, you think you're free. But it is not to be. Another X-Ray queue just for shoes, and another passport control. You are free.

Free to shop. BAA makes no pretence of being subtle about this; passport control is the entrance to their World Duty Free chain. Does any other country obsess about Duty Free as much as the UK? I wonder. The thrill of cheating Darling Darling out of a few pence on a bottle of Gordon's Gin or a box of 100 cigarettes seems to be highly significant to us, yet in all the other countries I've flown from, its importance is lessened. Or perhaps I've just flown from the wrong airports.

Las Vegas…Las Vegas…I've been in the air for five hours now, and we're only just half-way there. Scraping into Canada, still having to travel the same distance again to get to Los Angeles, then another hour on a plane to McCarren Airport itself.

some time passes…

I'll say this for AA. It may have been an eleven hour flight, but it saw THE RETURN OF THE PIZZA SNACK, and for that, all possible sins are forgiven. And they gave me a drink of water and a Toblerone while I was sleeping (briefly).

My usual Fear of Homeland Security was once again unwarranted; while I was in the air, thousands of SQL statements executed across the banking system, and a computer determined that seeing Helvetica wasn't a barrier to entry. All in all, it took about five minutes. And that included the agent filling out my form, stamping it, giving me back my passport, and only then realising that I had ticked one of the five boxes on the back. Honestly, it's a wonder that LA isn't awash with Nazis. Amusingly, she told me something that conflicts with both the document and the previous five years of travelling to America. A little strange.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote in Fear And Loathing that Las Vegas in the 1970s was behind the times somewhat; it's idea of "hip was Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin". These days, I guess that isn't the case - after all, it is Britney's party area of choice, but LAX upholds the 1950s throwback by having its flight to Las Vegas depart from the original airport terminal.

There's a shuttle bus that leaves from the modern era into the past. Which would be fine, except that as the bus pulls out of the terminal, you suddenly realise that you're sharing the road with 747s. This would be enough to brig on the Fear of course, but after being up for twenty hours, eyes bloodshot and mind slightly dulled by the ten hours of roaring engines, you might get a little cocky. Bring them on! American steel versus American rubber! Land against air…but on land's terms. All we need is a little energon…and a lot of luck.

Thankfully, the driver was having none of it, forcing us behind the yellow line, and driving in circles until the taxi-way was clear. In retribution, she drove us past the line of propellor planes lined up outside the old terminal. Now, I'm not someone who demands the very best, but I do insist on a jet engine. I Had A Bad Experience. I had been assured that jet engines would be strapped onto the wings of my plane, and if they weren't? Then it would be off to the Polo Lounge to hire a red convertible and find a Samoan attorney. And that would probably cause red flags on my return trip.

Incidentally, one day, we will have to go to LA and visit the 20th Century Fox building. And climb through the ventilation shafts, obviously. Welcome to LA!

I will leave you now, as they're about to call the flight. I will inspect, and you may hear from me again when I reach Baker.

No monkeys, but Vegas!

Updates will no doubt follow…I will try not to lose everything I own in the casinos!

currently playing: saint etienne – how we used to live





This is a no smoking cinema!


It’s like a whole barrel of nostalgia at the moment!

currently playing: Dexy’s Midnight Runners – One of those Things

The Motorola F3

It doesn’t have a camera. It doesn’t play music. It doesn’t do bluetooth. It can only display six characters at a time. It is an uncompromising slab of plastic that is cutting-edge yet harkens back to the LED displays of the 1970s. And it cost me £10.


It is a phone of Futurism.

A Possible Meeting At Pepsi Headquarters


(a skyscraper office somewhere in Purchase, New York)

SUIT 1: Morning, everybody. Where's Rick?

(Rick comes in, drinking from a Pepsi Max bottle)

SUIT 1: Rick, take a seat. We're going to need you today.

SUIT 2: As you know, Coca-Cola has been upping their game recently.

(SUIT 1 presses a button on his laptop and a bottle of Coke Blãk appears on the whiteboard)

SUIT 2: Took us totally by surprise. Coke mixed with Coffee! And what did we have in response?

RICK (sighing): Pepsi Twist.

SUIT 2: Exactly. Pepsi Fucking Twist. We didn't stand a chance.

SUIT 1: We need ideas. The next level. The new 'it'.

SUIT 3: Why don't we bring back Pepsi Blue?

(SUIT 1, SUIT 2, and RICK stare at SUIT 3)

(SUIT 3 stands up and walks out of the open window)

SUIT 2: Still, perhaps we need a new color.

RICK: Yellow? Done. Red? Done. Black…Done. Green?

SUIT 1: Green?

SUIT 2: Yeah, Pepsi: Green. With a hard colon. That's the stuff.

RICK: It needs something more. An edge. Something unique.

SUIT 1: Apple-flavoured Pepsi?

SUIT 2: No, no, it needs to be something that no-one would expect.

RICK: But it still has to say Pepsi: Green.

SUIT 2: Hard colon.

RICK: So hard it beats up all the other colons and turns them into full stops.

SUIT 1: What?

RICK: I mean periods.

SUIT 1: Ah.

SUIT 2: Something green. Something new...

RICK: Cucumber.

(SUIT 1 and SUIT 2 look at Rick, mouths hanging open)

SUIT 1: That's insane!

SUIT 2: How could that possibly work?

(SUIT 1 and SUIT 2 exchange a look)

SUIT 1: That's it!

SUIT 2: It makes Coke Blãk seem boring!

RICK: Pepsi Ice Cucumber. Clear bottle. Shards of glass on the label. Cool. Edgy.

SUIT 1: We're gonna sell a million!

SUIT 2: Rick, you've done it again.

(Rick gets up)

RICK: All in a day's work. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Andrex to pitch toffee-flavoured toilet paper…

currently playing: Björk – Declare Independence

It's A Hard Job, Honest!

Somebody needs to drag BBC Wales off to America. Then, instead of whining about the stresses of a 13-episode series, they can witness a 22-part season being put together, with comparable levels of special effects, set design and levels of cast turnover. And at a fairly similar level of budget too. Slackers.
currently playing: Dexy's Midnight Runners – Reminisce (Part 1)

Storm Troopers Demand The Truth About 9/11!

The oddest part about yesterday in London.

Tomorrow, it seems, I may finally have a mobile phone that works in Britain. Hold me, I’m scared.

currently playing: The Arcade Fire – Black Wave / Bad Vibrations

Tucker Carlson: Not Just An Idiot In A Bow-Tie!

No, wait.

currently playing: Stars – Midnight Coward