Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Dodo Has Landed

Well, I am here safe and sound in Baltimore. And I know that this will come as a shock to anyone who knows me, but SO IS MY LUGGAGE! Yes, this time it didn't take a wee side trip to somewhere else on the way. And the whole trip went very smoothly, despite arriving in Amsterdam 5 minutes after my plane to Washington started boarding. I have to say that I love Washington Dulles Airport. They have these little sheds on wheels with pneumatic lifts that look like trailer trash tanks and which take you from one place to another. It was like being on the set of a science fiction film. OK, a really crap science fiction film from the mid 60s. I thought I'd stepped onto the set of Thunderbirds. I was waiting for Virgil to tap me on the shoulder and say "F.A.B. Lady Donna."

The flight itself was a sort of good news/bad news scenario. On the plus side, I had 2 seats to myself so I could spread out and not dribble over anyone when I fell asleep. On the minus side the guy in front of me had marinated himself in the vilest cheap aftershave imaginable. It kept wafting back in a sickening miasma of foulness. Every now and again though, another smell took over. This, by the way, is not on the good news side of the equation. No. The guy behind me had, apparently been eating stale cabbage the night before. Every now and again the waves of flatulence would meet the waves of Eau De Nasty and do battle. Right in front of my nose. Still, I should look on the bright side - it could have been worse - the guy in front might have been wearing an aftershave called FART.

Sorry mum - I know I'm going to get in trouble for using the word 'fart'. When I was young you told me that I was only ever to use the verb 'to pop' in relation to breaking wind. Well, I'm sorry, but popping does not even begin to do this guy's flatulence justice.

Anyhow, onto more savoury matters. The lovely little trailer tank dropped us all off at immigration where the queue was full of huddled masses wishing to be let in. So I went to the loo, which meant that I was then at the end of the queue and, consequently, the last person to be let into the US - not the last person EVER you understand, just for that batch. At least, I don't THINK I've spoiled it for everyone else although, given the immigration official's response to me, maybe I have. For some reason, I always babble aimlessly when faced by people in uniforms. Except chefs.

"You've come from Amsterdam?"

"Well, not technically. I started off in Glasgow and had to go east to Amsterdam to come west to Washington - isn't that silly? I live in Scotland, but I'm actually English, but I've lived in Glasgow for the last 19 years. I don't have the accent though."

"Amsterdam," he said, writing something down. He then asked me where I was staying in Washington. "Well, I'm not actually staying in Washington. First I'm off to Bouchercon in Baltimore, which is the biggest crime fiction convention in the world. Then I'm going to Anchorage - I'll be there for a couple of days and then I'm off to--" He held up his hand.

"Ma'am, I meant what is the address of the place you are staying? And ma'am, if you could keep it brief I'd be grateful. I finish my shift in an hour."

He then turned to my Customs declaration form. As a visitor to the US you are only allowed to bring $100 of goods into the country. I had decided to be truthful on my form a) because I am rubbish at telling lies and b) because anyone who opened my suitcases would know that there was more than $100 of stuff there. So I had been truthful about the childrens' books, the gifts and the chocolate. He looked at the form and then looked at me in horror.

"You've brought $75 of candy and cookies into the country? Are they all for you?" I opened my mouth to protest indignantly. "No, it's OK ma'am. I'm not sure I want to know."

Eventually I was let in and went to get my shuttle to Baltimore, which took 3 hours or so, as we went all around the houses. I arrived, checked in and then went into the restaurant all smelly and horrible after hours of travelling with Mr Stinky and his friend Mr Even Stinkier. It was lovely to see all the 4MAers again. This is why I love these conventions. I get a chance to hug and spend time with some of my favourite people.

I said before I came that I wasn't going to come home with ANY books. Nope. Not a one. I wasn't buying any books. So, here's today's book haul:
Laura Lippman - HARDLY KNEW HER (in book bag)
John Harvey - DARKNESS AND LIGHT (in book bag)
Gyles Brandreth - OSCAR WILDE AND A GAME CALLED MURDER (book bag)(mum - that one's coming home to you)

John McFetridge - DIRTY SWEET
Duane Swierczynski - SEVERANCE PACKAGE
Richard S Prather - TAKE A MURDER, DARLING



Anonymous said...

Hmm, No shoes yet, only books,are you not feeling well?
I like being a nony mouse, I can slink in here and take the micky and all that jazz.
Keep away from the shoe shops, you know your Mum will buy you a boot for Xmas.
PS, you should have known that foreign smellies are not to your taste. D

Donna said...

Ah, my cunning plan, Dad, is when I have emptied my suitcases of books and chocolate, only THEN will I buy shoes. But don't worry. I have a shopping trip planned for Anchorage in which I fully expect to descend on Nordstroms shoe department like a horde of leather loving locusts.

garywarrenniebuhr said...

Glad to read that you met Mr. Stinky and Mr. Even Stinkier before you met Ted and me at Bcon. Love, GWN

Donna said...

Gary - why do you think I was wearing all that perfume?! I looked for you and Ted after the quiz but you had disappeared so I didn't get to say goodbye :o(