When you’re standing in a Woolworth’s queue with a melon, bottle of lemonade, Bounty Bar and a six-pack of Greek yoghurt, in a hurry, the last thing you want to hear the fellow on the till asking the lady in front he’s just finished with is ‘Been travelling?’
Oh yeah. She sure has, and not only that but it’s been a while since he asked because her answer started at Japan and finished at Colorado plus a month in New York, a hike over Dartmoor, a visit to the ten buddhist shrines of Sri Lanka, six weeks to trek to up Everest base camp, two weeks tube surfing down the Mekong, a weekend with her aunt in Bogota, a couple of days in Paris … this is how you go.
Cable car to the top of Table Mountain, a return trip from Hong Kong to Beijing on the new train, two weeks in Shanghai, a quick flyover to Taiwan to see the brother-in-law ….. a paddle-out at Waimea for the Eddie and a drive down Hollywood Boulevard.
Six Disneylands, a rodeo in Texas, four days in Las Vegas, a train from Vancouver to Ontario with a stopover in Manitoba for a moose hunt.
My Bounty Bar is melting. The melon is ripening, my lemonade is going flat, the yoghurt is warming. My patience is thinning.
Finally she goes.
He spins my stuff through the till, packs it, I swipe the card and just as I turn to go, he says, ‘been travelling?’
‘Yeah,’ I replied, ‘got off a ferry in Tangiers in 1962, bought an ounce of hashish from a little spiv working the docks and re-appeared in Gibraltar a month later.’
Maybe I’ll try Coles next time, might score a quicker turn-around.
Header pic : Tangiers.Pete Orlovsky, Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs proned out. 1957. Missed them by just a little bit.