“Anything to declare?”

Monday, 15 October


An uneventful journey through Customs. The first thing I notice is the polite demeanor in which customs officials ask for your documents — it’s almost a formality to bring them out, but nothing to worry about, really. I notice no additional security at Heathrow since September 11th – it seems like they’ve been set up for this sort of thing for a long time. It’s nothing like the snap-of-the-rubber-glove sound security precautions now installed at US airports.

My travelling partner Ivan and I met, and phoned his friends Iain and Storme (real names). They’re letting us stay at their flat until Friday. Both have the endearing qualities of computer geeks, and for a while we geek out with them, comparing purchase histories of personal computers at one point.

Since we’re in London, it seemed only natural for us to have our first meal at a Portugese restaurant. A television in the bar area displayed a Portugese news network. Most of it was directed at the events in Afghanistan, and footage was shown that hasn’t been seen in the US — most of it directed at the results of American bombing in Afghanistan, and its effects on the civilian populace. I really wonder how much of the conflict we’re seeing. We’re only beginning to hear about the dark side of the Persian Gulf ordeal.

According to mlb.com, the Mariners were winning game 5 in the bottom of the fourth. Dammit, I wish the Cubs would make a playoff series… (Addendum: they won 3-1… but they’re playing the Yankees now. Comment withheld.)

Design, graphic and industrial, is so well thought-out here — it’s compact, without excess, and elegant.)

Jetlag sets in. Seattle seems far away.

“Say you’re Canadian!”

Sunday, 14 October: At least they’re not showing “The Animal”

I love British Airways, and I’ll never fly non non-stop again. After a hellish journey to and from our nation’s capitol last week, which consisted of one layover to DC, and two (!) layovers back (one on a Buddy Holly-type aircraft), and choice movie selections (in order: The Animal, The Animal and The Animal, Evolution, and The Animal) on said airline (In these difficult economic times, I wouldn’t want to keep anyone from flying this particular airline, so I won’t say it was America West or anything like that), I looked forward to my flight on British Airways.

I wasn’t disappointed. If America West is a Yugo, BA is a Cadillac, and on the Cadillac of airplanes, the Boeing 777. The stewardess offered my neighbors and I (middle and window seat, respectively) a large bottle of wine, which was really two mini bottles, but made supper oh-so-much nicer. (Mental note: Don’t eat supper while watching ‘Enemy at the Gates’. Should have gone for British film ‘Lucky Break’ with some guy from ‘The Full Monty’ and the breathtaking Olivia Williams, who played the teacher/love interest from ‘Rushmore’.)

Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers’ was one of the selections on the plane. Sweet.

I recommend only ordering vegetarian meals on flights. Meat looks funny at 35 thousand feet.

I hadn’t really left Seattle. My neighbor was a Canadian from Toronto who lived in Seattle and worked at Microsoft and regaled me with tales of 50- to 60-hour workweeks and her boyfriend, also a Microsoft employee. The fellow in the window seat was an American staying in London for six months (!) to work at Price Waterhouse Coopers. He didn’t seem to be looking forward to the trip. I doze off to BBC Radio’s John Peel.

England and Scotland

Photos from a two-week trip to England and Scotland, replete with sheep and my friend Mary!