On the Road

On the Road: 2002

Chiswick: Know Your Surroundings
2-4 October 2002

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake: the great affair is to move."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

I wonder if Bobby Stevenson would still think that way if he was employed as a traveling tech writer/trainer/Web designer/consultant.

OK. So where am I now? Oh yeah... Jolly ol' England.

For a couple nights I stayed at the Chiswick Hotel. It keeps bouncing through my head the enormous amount of money that's been spent on hotels during this journey. At least 100 USD each and every night - you do the math! It would've been better for everybody for a couple of us to get an apartment, but foresight is so lacking on this project, I've never known where I'll be from one week to the next.

(After checking out of the Chiswich Hotel, I checked into the Strand Palace for 102 USD/night, including fees, thanks to HotelDiscounts.com. The "rack rate" is allegedly 160 GBP. While the location, just a block down from Covent Garden and a block up from the Thames, is absolutely unbeatable, it was another small little room with a bed that's only slightly cozier than the Chiswick Hotel's.)

As for the Chiswick Hotel, the bill is roughly 130 USD/night. And the guest doesn't receive all that much in return. The bed was hard as a rock, the shower head could not be adjusted, and the room was tiny. But, there were immaculately kept gardens in the back, complete with bush arrangements that formed arches over the cobblestone walkway.

The folks running the hotel were nice enough, but they were absolutely clueless about their own neighborhood. The woman at reception told us it'd take an hour by taxi to get to our destination in the morning. And we hadn't even told her where our destination was!

After checking in, I noticed a picture on the wall by the stairs. It was an autographed photo of John Cleese... Fawlty Towers... hmmm... OK, the woman was "new" to the area and the gentleman was nice enough, he even saved a copy of a free disco CD from Thursday's Evening Standard for me. (GLORIA, YES, I TOO WILL SURVIVE!)

Anyway, Chiswick is a nice little area with a good selection of pubs and a few restaurants.

Tired and hungry on Thursday, I dumped my stuff in the hotel room (actually, the place is made up of a few houses, so it has more the feel of staying in a bedroom than a typical hotel room), took a nap (hey, work - and Bowie the night before - wore me out!), and then I headed out for dinner.

There was a pub kitty corner to the hotel and I decided to dart in after noticing that beacon of soulvation, the Guinness tap, glowing warmly from behind the bar.

The bartender asked what I wanted in a surprisingly effiminate manner and directed me to take a seat, a waiter would be along to take my order.

That waiter daintily traipsied over to my table and, rather effiminately, asked what I'd like.

Pint of Guinness and the beef pie.

No problem.

I sat... and looked around...

To my left...

To my right...

Not a woman in sight.

And in front of me, at the bar, one man was standing and stroking the legs of another guy sitting on a stool.

Hmmm... Not that there's anything wrong with that, but...

Then I looked behind me.

There was a poster on the wall. A black-and-white artsy-fartsy photograph of a man's chest (might as well have been mine).

And across the floor... Another poster. This one of a man's back.

As they say in Amsterdam, "Fuuck."

OK. So maybe I should've known better. The pub was called The Birdcage. I quickly put two and two together and came up with five. I remember there being a French movie, La Cage aux Folles, which was remade as The Birdcage with none other than Nathan Lane a few years back.

This brief experience made even more obvious the obviously obvious: I simply don't belong in a world without women.

So, to all the ladies who actually read my little diary, cheers! You make the world go 'round.

(But, to all the women out there who've broken my heart, ya still get the bird.)

Having said that, please also check out "Women and Their Big Buts" for further enlightenment.

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