Lil reflects: The muddles of an uncertain age, how to travel half way round the world

Lil wonders, in her usual humorous way, quite how she managed to get to Oregon, on the west coast of America. Once again she relies on the kindness of strangers to rescue her.

I know, I know, I should know the address and telephone of where I am going if it’s half way round the world, but I didn’t.   I knew what the house looked like and roughly how to get there from the airport, via Wilamette something or other, its the road off a road with a wriggly wall by a cemetery, dead easy if you know how, oh, and it’s opposite Safeways.  Anyway off I go to the States brandishing a handful of documents and somehow always producing the wrong one.

“No mam, not your customs form, your passport.”

The customs form had been a bit tricky, it wanted my address in America and “by the wriggly wall didn’t count”.  I sat next to a nice lady dying of cancer. I took an overly enthusiastic interest in her tumours, operations and chemotherapy but refrained from wishing her a happy death – just.   But ten hours of dying requires a lot of listening and I was a little punchy by the end.   So we reached San Francisco and I traipsed down corridors with signs helpfully guiding my way.   More forms, I hand over a muddled sheaf of papers with the view that if they want them, they can have them.

I’m hungry and have three hours to spare and the food on the flight was filthy.  I peer at the choices at the airport and realize that American food is geared to make one plump, all except the fruit salads which are delicious.   It cost six dollars which created more muddle, this time over currency.  I proffer fifty dollars, a kind man points out my mistake,

“No mam, that is too much.” I proffer a miscellany of bills and the nice lady who has already insisted I have a nice day, takes her pick.   I find the right gate, I eat my fruit salads and I wait.  I must say in my defense that I was traveling with the perfect book, not that I’ve had much chance to read it what with brain tumours and one thing and another. Its the memoires of a brain surgeon, what about that for a coincidence!   About half an hour before my next flight is called a Chinese American, who speaks with a strong mancharian accent, informs everyone else that the flight is cancelled. I didn’t understand a word he said and had to ask my neighbour what was happening.

To a man, like the gadderene swine, the flight lounge up sticks and runs for the help terminal.  First come, first served and a pathetically few actually managed to catch the next flight. Gubbins here hadn’t a hope, so found myself with another five hours delay.   Now, remember what I’ve written about no phone number or address.  I am in a quandary, how can I let my daughter know I’m going to be very late.   I know, I”ll ring Fleur in England, but bugger that, it’s the middle of the night.   But how, what numbers do I have to conjure out of the ether. If I use my mobile, how do I call America? Especially when I am in America. Is there such a thing as an operator?   I ask a helpful lady who looks pained and suggests I go on line.   I haven’t a clue what going on line means so smile and think what the fuck.   Many brain tumours later, by now I could all but operate on my plane companion thanks to my book, my flight is called and a friendly guy who adored my accent has promised to find me a taxi in Eugene if there is no one to meet me…….

Bliss oh bliss, there she is, my adorable daughter, I’m so happy to be here.

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