Sunday, April 13, 2008

Interlude: Excursion to Bill Bryson's house, total cost £2

So, I'm back from my failed attempt to meet Bill Bryson. At 10:44 this morning, I hopped on my bike armed with a notebook, pen, camera, phone, wallet, and hat - the bear necessities to ride the 5 (that turned out to be 8) miles to Bill Bryson's place. When at home on Long Island, I frequently ride my bike to the beach, but I feel out of place, because the only people who ride bikes in America are A. Latin American immigrants B. Hipsters C. Kids D. Cops and E. Hardcore Cyclists. I fit into none of the above categories.

In two weeks, I'll miss my old school Raleigh superstar when I'll be forced to sell her or let her get stolen by local chavs.

The road to Bryson's house was scary as hell - a busy country rode that nearly saw me get squashed by an 18-wheeler driven by some Mario Andretti wannabe. I don't wear a helmet but for 99% of this ride I wish I did. When I reached Bryson's tiny village, I asked a dog-walking woman where his house was, she told me up the road. Then, after I snapped some photos of a lake and a peacock, I asked another dog-walker where Bryson's house was. She said it was behind an electric fence and she couldn't tell me where it was to respect his privacy. (Aren't people with dogs supposed to be friendly? What gives?)

Well, lucky for me only one house in the small village has an electric fence. I wasn't sure if it was the type of electric fence that actually electrocutes you with 10,000 volts (no sign indicated this) or a fence that merely opened and closed with the aid of some sort of electronic device, so I didn't pee on it. Either way, the fence was very locked, and the house was very uninhabited at this time. I was surprised to learn that Bill owns a Jeep, because I'd see him more as a Prius or SmartCar kind of guy. Though I temporarily failed in my mission, I got some great photos of a perfectly picturesque village, and tomorrow I'll send a letter to Mr. Bryson to let him know that we must urgently meet before my time in England expires.

I pressed on through quieter and less hazardous country roads to the village of Wymondham (obviously pronounced Windham). It was there in the center of town that I spotted an overweight man with a beard. From the three headshots I've seen of Mr. Bryson and many self-descriptions I've read, I figured it could be him, but I didn't want to look like a fool if it wasn't (stereotyping chunky men with facial hair might warrant death by stoning in a small English village) so I figured I'd be on my way back to Norwich - via train of course, to avoid the perils of the Norfolk Grand Prix Circuit.

I had 55 minutes to kill before the train, so I popped into a pub for a pint. It was there that I met some elderly men who clearly had money to blow by buying me pints. The key to securing pints from British people is as follows: When they bring up American politics, you must first ask the potential pint-buyer whom they support in the upcoming election. And then when they reveal this name, you go on a stint about how you are voting absentee for this person and why they are the only person who can rectify the evils of George Bush. Then, to ensure you obtain your free drink you praise the power of the Sterling, say you love both football and rugby (hedging your bets), have learned to really appreciate British cuisine - especially Sunday roasts and chutney (which Americans don't eat), and then continue to whine about how you left America so you could return to a Bush-free nation. Then you will be the recipient of multiple free drinks.

For £2 I hopped back on the train to Norwich and arrived twenty minutes later...

1 thing I will miss about England: No ATM fees. You can use any ATM anywhere without a fee - it's like the World is your WaWa (Philadelphia's favorite convenience store/hoagie shop that offers a NO ATM FEES policy regardless of what bank you belong to).

1 thing I will not miss about England: Though I am generally attracted to the stockings with a skirt on top look that's quite prevalent over here, when large thunder-thighed beasts rock this style it grosses me out. Twice in two days I've seen the entire asses of two girls who could qualify as amateur sumo-wrestlers...jeez!

No comments: