Chapter Five Crossing England
Landing in England
The Norman Voyager docked in Portsmouth at 21:30 UK Time (an hour earlier than Central European Time) and I set out to find somewhere to stay. By the time we docked it was nearly dark and I didn't find anywhere before it was completely dark and was quite cold. I got lost, of course, and wound up somewhere outside of Portsmouth but the hotels I found there were far too much so I decided to go back. Driving was quite miserable and ...
There was one thing I learned in the midst of my wayward wandering: British police have cool hats. They look ok in pictures but it's a different thing when you are talking to someone who wears one. The uniforms for many American cops, particularly in New England, are so gay that the cops look like they got lost on the way to a concert by the Village People but English cops have cool uniforms, particularly the hats. As has been shown by the Vatican for centuries, the importance of a cool hat can’t be over-estimated. The reverse effect is seen in people who wear baseball caps backwards as you know as soon as you see one the person is a Nobel Prize candidate.
The way English cops do things surprised me because of their extraordinary manners. I was hopelessly lost and it was cold and dark. This was straight out of every bad English horror story you ever read. So I ran into the cop walking a beat and he not only told me where I could find a hotel but he offered to walk with me to find it. I was riding Haximoto the wrong way down a one-way street when he spotted me but he didn’t say a word about that.
So, not even the first evening complete and already an encounter with the gendarmes but let's skip the tale of suffering. It sucked but the cop was very cool.
Never Been So Happy to Find a Hotel
At about two in the morning I discovered the Parisien Hotel and it had a sign outside that said the nightly rate would be £20 so I wandered in there and rang the bell. I was about to give it up when a sweet little old lady came out of her room and said she had one room left but it was on the top floor, did I still want it.
Oh yes, I would have slept on the floor if she had allowed it.
After I brought my stuff into the hotel she said I could store some of it with her as it was obviously going to be one massive bitch to take it all up those stairs. The room was on the fourth floor and there was no elevator.
She showed me where to put the guitar, etc and it was her own room. Such a sweet lady. Her dog was making noises while I put my stuff in there but she said it wasn't growling ... it was burping.
When I went to pay her I asked if she could take euros for the £20 and at first she said no but she saw I would be screwed and changed her mind. She said £20 would be about the same as €20 but I told her that it definitely was not and gave her the change in my pocket to make up the difference. It wasn't quite enough to make it right but later I remembered I had a £5 note in my wallet that had been there ever since I went through Heathrow on the way to Greece. I gave her that in the morning and that was more than I owed her but I felt I owed her more than that for the room anyway. I was dead exhausted, very cold, and had nowhere to go. The Parisien Hotel was more than I could have hoped at that point.
Not Precisely 'Home' but Much Closer
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