Thursday, 31 December 2009

Wednesday 30th December 2009 - Last Night There Were Four Glasgows

          The man who said this place was named for Glasgow VA was the son of the man who donated the land to build this one.  It would be safe to assume that if he was so interested in the history of the place to write articles about it, he would have asked his father and (probably) grandfather about it.  So it's probably safe to assume that there was a Glasgow VA available as a candidate, at least.
          And it turns out that in Amhurst county, VA, back from 1760 and onwards, in the court deeds, there were people referred to as coming fron Glasgow, maybe sometimes New Glasgow.  That place is now called Clifford, and is about 20-30 miles east of the present Glasgow VA.  It seems, also, that many Barren County KY citizens had land in Amhusrt County VA.
          The intriguing thought is that they effectively moved the name from VA to KY, or at least brought it with them.
 
          There is a fine quote from a Hessian Officer (British mercenary) during the Revolutionary War: "call this war whatever name you may, only call it not an American Rebellion: it is nothing more or less than a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian Rebellion".  Given the view these people must have taken of what the English did to their native land, it is easy to believe they would have had supported what "celtic fringe" rugby supporters now call "ABE" - Anyone But England.
          But they must have been fiercely independent, because they rebelled again, in 1794, when Washington was president, against the taxing of their whiskey.  It is alleged to be the suppression of the "Whiskey Rebellion" in Western Pennsylvania which brought the whiskey-making here to Kentucky and Tennessee..
 
          Later that night, discussing the bootleggers who bring booze from Bowling Green, I'm told that you can still get bootleg spirits here.  The favoured one appeared to be "Apple Pie" which was described as coming in a "mason jar with a cinnamon stick in it".  I got the impression it was corn whiskey flavoured with apple juice, rather than some cousin of Calvados.  They knew you had to be careful to buy it from someone who knew what he was doing.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Tuesday 29th December 2009 - A Day in Court

          I managed to find the Mayor's office, and make a date to do my little presentation.  He used to be the Police Chief, so he offered to get me a shoulder patch as well.  So that all proceeded smoothly. 
          Then I went round to the headquarters of the Glasgow Highland Games.  They've been running Highland Games here in late spring for about 25 years.  This got me an invite to a Hogmanay party.  Of course parties round here you have to bring your own booze, so that meant another trip to Bowling Green.  I'm told they actually have bootleggers here, and it must be very convenient to have someone do the 30-mile trip for you.
 
          I had a really straightforward trip to the records office.  I told my tale to the grown-up lady, and she went to a cupboard and out came the records of the court session of November 1799.  And there it was: they ordered the setting up of the county seat, defining where it was, "... which said town shall be called and known by the name of Glasgow ...".  Then they appointed seven men to be trustees of the town.
 
          Later that night, the barmaid was anxious to know if I had a good holiday.  I assured her I had.  She had been back to Toledo, in Northern Ohio ( I think I went through Toledo on the train to Minneapolis in the spring).  I asked her what had brought her here, and she said "a better environment for my kids".  They are very proud here that the magazine "Progressive Farmer" has declared Barren County to be the absolute best place to live in rural America.  Progressive farmers obviously don't drink beer.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Monday 28th December 2009 - Relying on the Kindness of Grown-up Ladies

          It being the Monday morning after the holidays, I'm rudely awakened by the insurance company wanting every detail, right down, it seemed, to my inside-leg measurement.  It's just as well I'm up early, because I have to go and see that Rozzie is being tended to, and get the rest of the luggage out of the back.  The only reassurance I get is that the repair company are fairly sure it won't take two weeks.
 
          Then it's off to the library.  Glasgow has a new central library on the edge of town.  The grown-up ladies are poised on the starting blocks, waiting for the little-boy-lost whistle to go.  (Or do I mean up in their crow's-nests, scanning the horizon for little-boys-lost?)  In any case, I give off the right pheromones, and they're at my side, ready for battle.
          It turns out they've passed most of their local history section to the Cultural Center (I get a frisson of pleasure at the very thought), but they immediately rush of to get the details, and come back with them all written up, in that very distinctive grown-up American lady handwriting.
          The library does have some material, and the most wonderful armchairs to sit and read in.  As ever with history, there are several versions of it.  But I finally find one which says that Barren County was instituted by the state in 1798, and at its November court session of 1799, it ordered that the county town be established on land donated by one John Gorin, and that it be known by the name of Glasgow.  If there haven't been any courthouse fires, it should be possible to check that from the original source.  And that would make it (just)18th Century.  There is only the vestigial Glasgow in Potsdown PA that's older than that.
          The State Legislature also organised the town in 1809, extended it in 1835, and chartered it as a city in 1875.  So a check on the court records and we'll be done-and-dusted.  Because it's court records, it will simply be the decision, or order, there will be no record of any debate about the name.  That is almost certainly lost.
 
          Later that night, we were discussing the merits of age.  The barmaid, who I had thought was about 14, claimed to be 22.  She asked me if I thought she looked old enough to be a barmaid.  I told her she didn't even look old enough to be young.  Then everyone agreed it was obviously time to go home.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Sunday 27th December 2009 - Wet, Dry, or Just Slightly Moist

          I went out for Sunday Lunch and discovered they don't sell beer (well, alcohol of any kind) till 3pm.  An obvious discrimination against catholic gentlemen coming home from mass.  When I got back, I thought it was time for a bit of research into the licensing laws here.
          It turns out Kentucky counties and cities can decide for themselves whether to be wet or dry, or one of the several flavours of 'moist'.  Glasgow is currently 'by-the-drink' moist.  That's why the supermarkets don't sell beer": nobody sells drink for consumption 'off the premises'.  Even when they sell it by the drink, that has to constitute less than 30% of their gross turnover.
          Of course, it all started with women: the Women's Christian Temperance League, back in the 1870s.  They campaigned, along with the more-honestly named Prohibition Party, for prohibition.  Glasgow, profaning its name, voted to go dry in 1900.  Then, of course, the whole country went dry in 1919 with prohibition.
          By 1933 they had discovered that the cure was worse then the disease, and no tax revenue to pay for the new problems, so thay repealed prohibition.  Glasgow, along with everyone else, voted itself wet again, but reverted to dry in a couple of years.
          Up till, would you believe, the end of 2007.  When it voted to go moist, allowing restaurants to sell alcohol 'by the drink'.  The campaign and vote were based on employment arguments.  It's also true (I didn't know this) that the statistics show that dry counties suffer more drink-related traffic accidents than wet ones.  The statisticians conjecture that it's because, typically, they would drink-and-drive further.
          All of which means you can buy drinks, but not buy drink.  And not even that on Sunday till after three.  A Glasgow with a difference, you might think, but when I was young, Scotland was much the same.
          Glasgow has a large, expensive-looking 'country club' (that's American for 'golf club').  That's another flavour of 'moist': golf clubs have their own rules.  I wouldn't be surprised to discover that the toffs have been drinking themselves silly here since the 1930s, while tut-tutting at the lower orders.
          This being Kentucky, the popular joke on the subject is that Bourbon County is dry, while Christian County is wet.
 
          Later that night, suffering severe dehydration, I'm out watching the Denver Colts playing the Philadelphia Eagles.  The Eagles, apparently as usual, contrive to win by a field goal in the dying seconds.  But at the end  the sponsor credits come up, and it says, I kid you not, (get an image of an American Football player into your head) "Menswear by Calvin Klein".  Finally, those funny outfits are explained.
          Then the UK (that's the university here) are in a college-ball 'bowl' match.  That's some kind of league (conference) championship.  My neighbour tells me that there is an American College Championship match after all the bowl games.  But it's not a playoff series, its done by polling and computer selection.  They really ought to extend that idea to the whole season (they could call it "Reality Bowl") and save a lot of young men getting hurt.
 

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Saturday 26th December 2009 - A Moving Day

          Compliments of the Glasgow Police, I've found somewhere cheaper, and it's time to move.  Although I've got things in a large number of plastic bags, there's a handicapped access just two doors away, and I found a proper luggage trolley (you know, with a coat rack along the top).  Unfortunately, someone has parked a large van right across the exit ramp, so I have to cart everything half way.  Loading stuff into the trunk of my shiny new Impala cheers me up a bit.
          When I've just finished, the van driver turns up.  I point out that he blocked the handicapped exit.  "Ah's fixin' the candy machine", he said.  He seemed to think that was sufficient justification.
          I went round the wreckers to try to recover some other things from Rozzie, but they were closed.  The driver had given me his number, and said to call him if I needed anything, but I didn't need it enough to spoil someone's holiday.
 
          The new motel is much cheaper, and, from my point-of-view, nearly as good.  It doesn't have free "breakfast", it has no indoor pool, no reception area, no hairdryer.  The decor is much poorer and older.  None of which I would put much value on at all.  It is however, much nearer the local bars.
 
          Later that night, I test out another bar.  As I'm sitting there, a young man comes in, orders an expensive ("imported") beer, then takes out his sound system and plugs his ears in (he has rather a neat little box of earplugs, of various sizes and colours).  Now why would he do that?  If he wants to be alone with his music (I can't hear it at all), why doesn't he stay home where the beer is much cheaper?
          Then he orders a 'shot'.  He can't make up his mind between Amarretto and Grand Marnier, so he elects to have one of each and mix them.  He sits with his music for a while, having an occasional passing word with some of the younger staff, then he leaves without drinking anything (except a little of the beer).  I judge this to be simply image-building conspicuous consumption.  I'm sympathetic: if my memory serves me right, it was awful being young.
          There was just the barmaid and me by quarter to it-ought-to-have-been-three-but-it-was-actually-ten.  "It's ten in the winter", she says, brightly.  "Everyone's gone by then": and so they had.
 
          When I get back, Google is winking at me, having sent it's usual selection (it says it's the whole lot, but I can't believe that) of "Glasgow" mentions on the World-Wide-Web.  One catches my eye immediately: it starts "Scottish police state".  Good heavens!  Have the Scot Nats finally stripped-down to their true colours?  When I manage to get the story up, it says "Scottish police state that ...".

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Friday 25th December 2009 - Nothing was Stirring, not Even a Jackalope

          Breakfast had been set out, but none of the servants were around.   I seemed to have the place to myself.  Just in case they had deserted, I snaffled a couple of bagels to see me through the day. 
          Which turned out to be wise.  I went for a long walk, and nothing was stirring.  The display at the shopping mall told me it was 40 degrees, which is about 4 or 5 in new money, but there was a stiff breeze blowing.  The seven dollars I spent in Walmarts on a puffy jacket proved to be money well spent.  I came back braced and uncobwebbed. 
          Right in the middle of the walk, while I was actually crossing a big wide a road junction, I got the key idea for the story that's been holding me up.  It's really just as well there was nobody about, or I might have been in trouble.
 
          Lunch was a turkey bagel with "Miracle on 34th Street".  And some of the beer I'd gone all the way to Bowling Green to fetch.
 
          The bar I found on Wednesday night was themed South-Western, meaning Arizona-New Mexico.  It had a stuffed animal head over the bar, a very large, horned rabbit.  It looked very convincing, but it is a mythical beast of the desert, known as a "Jackalope".  After the "34th Street", there was a program of those wonderful Pixar shorts, the best being "Presto and his Hat".  But there was also one I hadn't seen before, called "Boundin'", featuring, would you believe, a jackalope.
         

Friday, 25 December 2009

Thursday 24th December 2009 - Finding a Cheaper Motel, the Hard Way

          I'm worried that where I'm staying is much too expensive.  I make up one of my highly complex 'wandering about' plans, and set out for a tour round the town.  Then I realise it's Christmas Eve, and I ought to get to the tourist office in case they shut early.  In fact, they didn't open.  But just opposite, on the courthouse square, is the Civil War Memorial
[n0653]
Notice it says "CSA".
          The place is so quiet, I reckon it's just possible that nowhere will be open tomorrow, so I decide I'd better get in something to eat, just in case.  The shopping mall parking lot and service roads are quite busy.  Trying to sneak through, I manage to get myself hit quite hard.  It's a woman about my age, and, although she's quite shaken, she isn't hurt.  Since there are lots of signs on the highways saying move out of the traffic lanes if no-one is hurt, I suggest we move out of the intersection.  She calls the police.  The fire department, the police, and an ambulance arrive, in that order.  Three police cars arrive, so I guess it was a quiet day.  We both have to sign to say we declined to be taken to hospital.
          The police take all the details, so I don't bother. 
[n0657]
(notice what's written on the police car)
The officer is a bit miffed to find it's a UK licence: "Ain't done one of them before", he says.  I get into a conversation about where I'm staying, and tell him that it's too expensive.  He tells me where there is somewhere much cheaper.
          It's now about 1.30pm on Christmas Eve, and I realise that I might be cut off without transport for quite a long time.  I call my insurance company, and by 3pm I'm in a smart new 2010 Chevrolet Impala.  Pesident Obama has been exhorting everyone for some time to get a new American car.  I'm finally able to oblige.
          Poor old Rozzie is carted off by the wrecker, who kindly takes me by the motel and helps me unload.  After 8 months of 'nesting', it's not an easy task.  The rental company comes and picks me up, and in no time I've sorted out the new motel for Saturday, and got back to the mall for the shopping.  Now that I've calmed down, I have a look around and see the signs are really a bit misleading.  I take some photos for the insurance company.  It is only by way of mitigation.  It certainly wasn't the other driver's fault, so I guess they'll put it down to me.  But it makes me feel a bit better.
 
          Later that night, everywhere being closed, I settle down to watch some TV.  American TV seems to consist of 50-50 program and adverts, which I find irritating.  There is a channel, Turner Classic Movies, on cable, which shows old, mostly black and white, movies of the 'operatic' era.  They are showing "Meet me in St Louis", which is in colour, later.  The big attraction of TCM is that there are no adverts. 
          When I first turn it on, I catch the tail-end of a film called "Christmas in July".  It has an exquisite surreal joke, up there with the Garrison Keillor one about the penguins:  She says "Is it good or bad luck if a black cat crosses your path?"  And he says "It depends what happens next". 
 

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wednesday 23rd December 2009 - A Town with no Beer

          Down to Kentucky is a bit of a dawdle from here, so I'm in no great hurry to start this time.  I check the local TV station for weather.  As I turn it on, I manage a rather odd conversation with the newcaster: "A semi has crashed on the interstate, and ... ".  "Which Interstate?"  "It's on I-64 and ... ". "Oh no, that's my road!  Where is it?"  "It's at the intersection with highway 35 and ... ".
          So I get up the google maps and find out where I-64 and US-35 cross.  It's quite close to town, and I can instruct Dulcie to take in a "via point" to avoid it.  I cut through town, fairly slowly, but pleased with my luck.   As soon as we're past the junction, I'm back onto 64 and away.  Except, closer study would have revealed that 35 crosses 64 again, much further out of town.  There are huge "Road closed" signs, and an equally huge traffic jam.  We're two miles from the junction, but the obedient American drivers all pull into the inside lane and wait their turn.  I zoom up the outside lane, get someone to let me in, and it's over the junction exit and entry ramps, and off again.  Don't you just hate people like that?
 
          I stop for brunch at Mt Sterling, just east of Lexington.  Kentucky has virtually no snow, just a dusting on north-facing slopes.  It's also very neat, especially round Lexington.  It's all "Hollywood" farms and newly-painted white fences.  And all the grass is cut.  It's not the lawns here which are "manicured", it's the entire countryside.  It takes me a while to work out that grass and hay must be quite a valuable commodity round here.
          The sun is getting quite hot as we strike out west along the Bluegrass Highway, then south on 65.  And in what seems like no-time-at-all,
[n0649]
          I've got my planning wrong again, and I'm about two miles from town, not the one I was expecting.  And there don't seem to be any local bars.  I decide it's time to replenish Rozzie's cellar.  At the local supermarket, I find a grown-up lady and ask here where the beer is.  "We don't sell beer", she says, and waits, expectantly, with her punchline.  "Where", I ask, "is the nearest place which does?"  Out comes the punchline: "Bowling Green" she says.  "That's thirty miles away!"  She can see I don't believe her.  She nods her head vigorously: "It's true", she says, "you can get drink in restaurants, but there are no shops".
          It suddenly occurs to me, not having seen any bars, that Glasgow, profaning it's name, might actually be dry.  The holidays are about to start.  I'd better get to Bowling Green in case everywhere shuts for two days.
 
          Actually, later that night, I found a bar.  But it's not walking distance, so moderation will be required.  It styles itself as a "SW Mequite" restaurant.  As far as I can gather, that means cooking on mesquite wood, which flavours the food very distinctly.  I had a steak and it was exceptionally delicious.
         They had a notice over the bar saying that drinking alcoholic beverages before conception, or during pregnancy can cause birth defects.  I tried to tell the barmaid that I couldn't see how it was possible to drink before conception, even if only because of the "carding" id rules.  She didn't see my silly point, and got into a long discussion of how her cousin's brother-in-law's wife's sister had done just that, and had had problems.  Of course, it should have said "conceiving". But it had been produced by the state department of human resources.  What more could you expect.

Tuesday 22nd December 2009 - Go West, Old Man (Again)

          Prompted by the weather, I'm up and away at crack of dawn (that's about 8 o'clock these days).  The wise decision is to stick to the interstates in this weather, so it's off down 95, round south of Baltimore, and off west along the narrow Panhandle of Maryland.  I'm pretty used, now, to Dulcie's old-fashioned view of the American road system, so I am unfazed when she demands I mount a set of road works in heavy Baltimore traffic.  I know enough of the numbers and directions to stay on the right road.  I-70 takes us to Hancock, where Maryland, rather oddly, is about 2 miles wide.  Then it's 68 to West Virginia
          Pretty soon, we're over the Eastern Continental Divide, somewhere west of Frostburg.  We're up about 3000 feet, and all the way the sky is that misty pale grey that suggests imminent snow.  But it doesn't snow, and I manage to get to Morgantown, in West Virginia, before stopping for breakfast at about 1pm. 
          West Virginia's snow-covered hills look just a bit odd, and I finally figure out why:  There are almost no evergreen trees at all, so the snow is on the ground, and the trees are like old ladies' hair after OAP day at the hairdressers, where it gets all puffed up, and you can see their scalp through it.
         But it's a trouble-free trip all the way to Charleston.  This is very close to Glasgow WV, so I'm staying in the same motel as when I was visiting there.  I know where the naked ladies bar is here, and the Texas saloon.
         I manage to book three days in the only motel I can find in Glasgow KY on the internet.  I'm actually going to spend Christmas in a Glasgow, and, just for the record, at least for me there was room at the inn.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Monday 21st December 2009 - Sporting Puns

          It's the first day of winter, the solstice, the shortest day.  It got here just in time, in the aftermath of the big storm: quite a trailer.
          I have to plan tomorrow's trip over the mountains to West Virginia and on to Kentucky.  Although the meteorologists here are quite reliable, there are so many storm systems coming from so many places, and, of course, the Appalachians will have a big effect.  I can just about make it to Charleston (about 435 miles, according to Dulcie,  who counts the actual road miles), and I've been there before, so I know which motel, and where it is.  But I'm worried I might get caught in the mountains by the weather, so I have to swot up on Cumberland, which is about half way, in the Maryland panhandle, the long narrow bit that stretches out west.
 
          Someone left the New York Daily News in the naked ladies bar.  They have a quite splendid sporting pun headline.  The NY Jets (football) did a bad job last night, and look doubtful for the "playoffs", the most important part of the season.  Technically, it's not actually over, yet: they could still make it.  There coach is a very fat man, and he says they can't do it, so the headline was "The Fat Man Sings".  It is the assumption that the readers will catch the cultural allusions that make it so interesting.
          It reminds me of the Eric Cantona pun.  Cantona is French, and used to play for Leeds United.  When he did something clever, the Leeds fans would chant "oo, ah, Cantona".  The week after he went to Manchester United, Leeds had to play Chelsea.  When the teams came out, the Chelsea supporters chanted "oo eh Cantona", which is French, and almost a pun, and just as clever.
 
           This eulogy for redneck sports fans was brought on by the presence, later that night, of two young men who claimed to be Harvard and MIT.  They were amusing themselves (and, let's be clear about this, nobody else) by taunting one of the sports fans.  Him being grown-up, and them being callow, he was mostly right.  His points were too complex for them, so they could only understand him in the context of stereotype-satire.  He was very generous.  I decided, charitably, that they couldn't possibly be MIT and Harvard, not unless those august institutions have stopped checking candidates manners before they let them in.     

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sunday 20th December 2009 - Getting Back to Normal

          The snow has stopped, and the roads seem to be functioning again.  The plows and the salters are out doing their stuff:
[n0641]
The weather channel tells me that yesterday was the second heaviest snowfall on record for this area.  It also tells me that my planned travelling days are going to be clear and sunny.
 
          Later that night, I found myself trapped between a couple of professional athletes.  One was a former college football quarterback.  The other had been a pitcher in the minor leagues.  They wanted to buy me shots.  I told them that I was a professional drinker, but I only drank in the minor leagues: any hard liquor and the game would be over in the first quarter.  They did, however, ply me with beer.  Me being Scottish, I had to have them full-sized.  When I left, I got their names.  I told them that if I slipped on the way home, I would write their names in my blood in the snow, so people would know whose fault it was.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Saturday 19th December 2009 - A Snow Job

          I awoke to heavy snow.  It had clearly been snowing most of the night, and wasn't showing any signs of abating. And the flags were standing out stiffly.
[n0631]
I got to sit home and watch a bit of TV.  The advertising is now very 'seasonal'.  There are a lot of adverts for drink, and all dutifully exhort us to "drink responsibly".  What does that mean?  I suppose if one feels responsible for the shareholders and workers of the drink companies, it would mean drinking enormous amounts.  The whole idea of drinking is to be irresponsible.  What they must mean is "don't drink if you have something responsible to do, like bathing a baby, or cooking a frozen chicken".
 
          As the day progresses, the snow gets deeper and deeper.  We're told that at 4pm they will close the road to other that 4-wheel drives (what that means, in typical American fashion, is that you can drive without 4-wheel, but if you get stuck and cause a problem, there will be  heavy fine).  There is no ploughing or salting yet, because it would simply be a waste.
          Quite a number of pickup trucks have their own plough mounted.  I think this must be because they live out-of-town, but, in fact, they are 'making hay while the sun shines', if you see what I mean, and offering to clear out parking lots and the like.
 
          I can see the way the wind is blowing, and that later that night is getting earlier and earlier.  I put on my cowboy outfit (well, not the spurs) and trek my way to the NL's bar.  Everyone is cheered into the room.  It is a small, but dedicated band.
[n0633]
          There was a program on the TV about the funniest adverts of the year.  My favourite, in the short-list, was for viagra.  This man is talking to camera.  He is carrying a heavy, antique rocking-horse.  "Me and the wife had got into antiquing in a big way", he says.  "We were doing it most of the time.  Then I started taking viagra, and the antiquing just kind-of stopped."  That was it.
          When I had finished lunch, I demanded a cheer for leaving.  After all, I was on foot.  Now, does that count as responsible drinking?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Friday 18th December 2009 - Into the Subculture

          For one reason or another, I was tied up indoors all day.  I settled down to planning out a story, and made some progress.  So i've been racking my brains for something clever to say, but everything has been eclipsed by the events ...
 
          ... later that night. I went round to the naked ladies bar.  (I used to have a latin teacher who was wont to accuse anyone removing their blazer, even on the hottest days, of being "nude":"Why are you nude, boy?"  I try to wonder what he would make of this place, but my mind just boggles.  It would certainly test our latin vocabulary)  The place was packed.  It's usually fairly empty.
          Now, I swear I didn't know this was happening, but it turns out the poor serving girls are putting on a beauty contest, rumoured to involve bikinis.  The place is full of gentlemen (not very many of them 'ageing') all pretending they come here often, and trying not to look at each other.  I get the feeling I'm about to experience something deeply, deeply sub cultural.
          The show starts with all the girls fully dressed.  That's more than they wear at work, normally.  But they're mostly those tight little dresses held under the bottom with an elastic band.  They twirl and flash their American teeth.  There is much cheering.  There are clearly claques in the hall.
           Then the moment we've (oops, 'they've') all been waiting for.  Out they parade, one-at-time, in the skimpiest bikinis.  Now they are wearing even less than they do at work.  I spare a thought for my poor latin master.  The cheering gets just a bit more croaky.  One of them, no doubt in my honour, is wearing a tartan bikini.  She passes quite close to me, but there is not enough material to identify her clan.
           I talk to the young under-manager who was kind enough, a few nights ago, to rescue me from someone who was clearly unwell, and had stopped taking his medication.  I ask him if this parade is some sort of job interview.  To my surprise, he takes the question seriously.  "This end of the job market's pretty tough, you know," he says. 
           My mind boggles again: surely no culture is quite as 'sub' as that.  Anyway, everybody, including the girls, appeared to enjoy themselves.  Oh, and when it was over, the place emptied pretty quick.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Thursday 17th December 2009 - Now Where Have I Heard That Name Before

          I'm off for another fun day at the courthouse and think it would be a good idea if I take some of the old maps with me.  My pocket camera has quite a large LCD on the back, and a facility for zooming in on bits of the picture.  So I plug it into the computer and copy the pictures back down.  Windows issues a stern warning that it won't work, but it does.  So now I have access to all the names on the old maps while I'm searching through the deeds.  See if that helps.
 
          This time I got back to 1845 before the trail collapsed (or whatever trails do).  The silly lawyer had pointed back to the wrong deed.  I begin to wonder if anyone at all here can prove they own their house.  This time I get landed on a deed of trust.  At least that's what I think it must have been: some widow is getting married and all her property gets sold to three blokes for ten dollars, provided they remit all the income to her, and all at the behest of her new husband.  You'd think he must be a real decent chap if it weren't for the fact that one of the blokes has the same surname as the first husband.
          Anyway, it looks like I'm not going to make the connection: too bad.  Even the Glasgows have vanished: off to Missouri, no doubt.
 
          It's getting very cold, all down the east coast.  Apparently there are a couple of storms working their way up the Atlantic.  This means, according to the metereologist I heard, a "snow event".  What do you think that means?
 
        

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Wednesday 16th December 2009 - The Stars at Night

          Rozzie has been claiming to be unwell for some time.  I have been studiously ignoring the symptom for months.  It usually indicates the petrol cap is leaking, and has already cost me a hundred dollars to replace said cap.
          It is time, however, to replace the oil and filters.  I passed one of these "lub job" shops on the way to Wilmington, and decided I should stop off and get it done.  I filled up with petrol, and as I was heading for the lub shop, I saw a Mazda dealer on the other side of the highway.  I mused for a bit, then thought I'd go back, see if they would check out the light cheap.  And, do you know, as I was rehearsing what to say, I looked down at the dashboard, and the light wasn't on.  Rozzie obviously remembered how cross I was last time.
 
          So it was off to Wilmington again, this time to the Recorder of Deeds, to see if I can find a trail of transfers where the name changes.  Of course, Wilmington is a big town, so they have large men with guns to look up my bottom; and off-street parking that costs $8.50 a day.
          This deeds library is a good bit different to what I learned out west.  In the first place, they don't have any indexes prior to 1930 or 40.  And all the plots are described by metes and motes, rather than the military slicing-up that the western states use.
          Fortunately, it still runs to a sufficiency of grown-up ladies, straining to offer help.  One of them points out that the professional tracers all use a section in the deed which says the plot "being the same land as" whichpoints back to the record book reference of the previous conveyance.  She also shows me how to do searches on the computer system, and pretty soon I'm off and running.
          Most of the trails ran dry, for one reason or another, but it's really quite fun to do, especially if I get back to the nineteenth century, which is all microfilmed.  I did spot the "Regal Cinema" in the Glasgow Shopping Centre, on what turned out to be a mortgage deed.  I couldn't resist looking up the amount.  To my astonishment, it said 370 MILLION dollars.  I guess that's for all the Regal cinemas in all the world.  But it was with some off-shore bit of Lehmann Bros.  Weren't they the first domino to fall in the recent dificulties?
 
          Later that night, on the way home, it being cold and clear, I was wishing on some stars when I realised I was looking at Sirius, and, looking up, saw Orion high in the sky.  Of course I'm much further south than I'm used to, about the same latitude as Lisbon.  And suddenly, it being on the way home, my mind suddenly filled with one of the worst stellar experiences of my life.
          I was flying south from Tokyo to Sydney.  The 747 being empty, I was stretched out along four seats, fast asleep.  The plane hit a bad storm, with severe bouts of weightlessness, which wakened me up.  I looked out of the window, and there, in all its glory, was Orion.  Except, wait a minute, it's upside-down, and there's another surge of weightlessness: an oh-my-god-we're-going-to-die moment.  Then reason prevailed (I have to say it took its time) and I realised, being on the other side of the world, it was me, and not Orion, which was upside-down.
          Which, in turn, reminds me that the stars on the Australian flag are upside-down (or rather, they're not upside-down, but should be, if you see what I mean - the topmost star is the northernmost, the southernmost at the top being what you see in Australia).

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tuesday 15th December 2009 - Thesis Running on Empty

          The weather is certainly making me feel at home.  It is either wet and warm (ish), or clear and sunny and cold (no ish).  It's a little more extreme, with the wet being a bit wetter, and the cold being a bit colder.  I have bought a big puffy jacket, which is very effective at keeping me warm and dry.  It is reversible, and cost all of $7 in Walmart.
 
          I can get no further with my theory.  It was Aiken Town in 1791, and Glasgow in 1803.  Aiken died in 1801.  The Glasgows who created the Missouri town came from a few miles away.  Their mother was called Aiken Stuart.  I was certain it would be easy to find that a Glasgow took the place over, or inherited it.  But I can't find any evidence.  It just seems that as soon as they got Aiken in the ground they wanted to call it something else.  And they may have been tired of being in Pencader Hundred in the Welsh Tract of New Castle County.
          When the State Review Board for Historic Sites met in December 1976 to consider making 'Aiken's Tavern' a historic site, it considered, at the same meeting, the 'Clyde Farm Site, Glasgow', so there must have been some Scots about the place.
 
          Later that night, one of the Willie Nelson lookalikes was, as they say here, "hitting on" the barmaid.  He had been convening for some time, and felt he should favour her with his phone number.  She was taking it in good part, and thought it might help clarifiy her position if she showed him a photo of her infant son on her phone.  As she passed it over, he went all gooey-eyed and said "aw, he looks just like me".
 

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Monday 14th December 2009 - Around and About in Glasgow

           One of the odd things I've noticed in the US is that as soon as you cross a state line, all the number plates (they seem to call them 'tags') change, amost as though they had James Bond revolving plates.  But not in Delaware: here even some of the buses have out-of-state plates.  In the supermarket, there was some problem in the parking lot, and they didn't just give the numbers, they gave the states as well.
 
           Although it has no corporate existence (it's not a county, or a hundred, or a town or village) this Glasgow is quite a big place.  The media reports of crime and accidents which happen in Glasgow spread over quite a wide area.  And there's a Glasgow Park, a Glasgow Shopping Area (which the water tower claims is the 'People's Plaza'), a business center, medical center, even a trailer park.
          The trailer park provides one of the more startling signs
[n0618]
 
There is also a 'Saint Margaret of Scotland' Church, complete with a large bronze statue of the lady and signs in fake gaelic script
[n0616]
 
          Later that night, I found myself in the middle of a Willie Nelson lookalike convention.  But, unlike the astonishingly refined intonations of the man himself, I couldn't understand what any of them were saying.  This may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that they seemed to have been convening for some time.  I should say they couldn't understand what I was saying either, and I lacked a similar excuse.
          I decided just to concentrate on the football.  I think I would understand it better if I knew what the positions on the field were.  There seem to be unlimited substitutions allowed, so the teams seem to have almost as many players as Manchester United, although they all get to play on the night.  When possession changes, the entire field is evacuated, and play is resumed with two different teams.  And there are almost as many officials as players.  Sometimes the coaches can challenge the officials, and the game then goes into one of those slo-mo TV take-overs.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Sunday 13th December 2009 - Wondering about Travel Arrangements

          We got over an inch of rain yesterday.  I was planning to go and have a mooch round Glasgow, because there are usually more people about on a Sunday, but it would have been difficult doing it even by car.  So I decided I would contemplate my next move.
 
          I think Kentucky is next, but it's 750 miles away.  That's a hard slog in a day, and there is a distinct likelihood that it might be unpleasantly cold for sleeping in the saddle.  Rather to my surprise, Dulcie recommends that I go past Glasgow West Virginia, but she makes it a 7-4 split in hours of driving, and 7 is just a bit long for me.  Philly has kind-of cured me of big cities, so I'm going to pass up DC and the Post Office records.  I shall be travelling that long thin strip of Maryland that stretches out west above West Virginia.  But I think I will avoid the weekend before Christmas.
 
          Apart from a couple of breaks in Minneapolis, and one in St Louis, I've been on my own now for eight months.  I have, consequently, developed some fairly sophisticated rules about talking to myself.
          I used to have two quite simple rules: firstly, I think it's alright to talk to myself, but not to people who aren't there; and secondly, if I talk to myself, there's no need to do it out loud or even to move my lips.
          Now I'm prepared to take the view that speaking to myself out loud can be a help in remembering something, a bit like writing notes, so that there is an output process as well as an input one.  Of course I have to be alone to do this.  I am well aware that sitting in a corner muttering to myself, or just moving my lips, is one certain way of ensuring solitude, if not the summoning of men with white coats and a net.
          I have also developed the rule about talking to other people when they're not there: it's OK if it's a rehearsal.  And rehearsal means shortly before I actually speak to them, rather than sometime afterwards.  And rehearsals can't go on for years.
 
          Later that night, lots of people were talking to themselves out very loud.  The local team were playing New York.  I think New York teams are like Manchester United and Chelsea: because they're so rich, everybody else likes to see them getting beaten.  The local team won, so a lot of people were telling the New York players some of the things they could do to themselves.  One young man got so carried away, the almost-naked barmaid asked him to leave on the somewhat dubious grounds that this was a family restaurant.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Saturday 12th December 2009 - Signs of the Times

          It being a lovely day, I went out for a morning stroll.  I spotted an unusual-looking tree
[n0596]
I expect you can see what's unusual about it too.
          Having decided it was too dangerous last night to cross the highway, I thought I might take a look and see if there were any safe crossing points within easy reach.  This really is a busy eight-lane road.  As if reading my mind, the highway authorities had left a little note for me.
[n0597]
They don't pull their punches, do they?  I've remarked before about the American penchant for using the subjunctive in road signs, but they've certainly resisted the temptation here.
 
          Today's big sporting event is the Army-Navy football match.  I think it's actually a college game, West Point v Annapolis, rather than teams from the whole army and navy.  There has been a growing tendency over recent years for fans to turn up wearing their team colours, but for this game, they turn up in uniform.  I wonder if they marched there.  Since the army wear grey, it looked a bit like they were settting up for a re-enactment of the Civil War.
 
          Later that night I met an Eagles fan (that's Philadelphia football).  As can happen to men of a certain age, he is deeply in love with the barmaid, and loses track of the conversation every time she passes.  The Eagles play in south Philadelphia, and it turns out he frequents my favourite south Philly bar.  I asked him to remind them of me next time he was there, but I'm not sure he heard me.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Friday 11th December 2009 - Little or No Progress

          Today was the joy of going through old papers and maps.  It's intrinsically pleasurable, and the hours fly by without much actual progress.  I'm looking for evidence of the change from Aikentown to Glasgow between 1777 and 1803, but I don't find any.  I was hoping it was something to do with the arrival of a post office, but it turns out that didn't happen till 1828.
          There seems to have been some special fascination with the Clyde.  In 1883, the East Boston Company was exhorting Boston to emulate what had happened in Scotland (don't ask me why the Historical Society of Delaware has this)
[n0584]
          And for reasons that are unclear, at least to me, the atlas publishers are making comparisons
[n0588]
 
          I found an old bill, among the papers of one Euriah Slack, with the signature of Matthew Aiken himself.
[n0595]
I shows, rather surprisingly, that, in 1799 (and, in fact, till much later), they were still using sterling.   I expect then, as now, it was a matter of who and what they trusted.  Slack himself dealt in both currencies at much the same time.
 
          Later that night, it's off to the scantily-clad waitress bar.  There are a couple of other bars, but they're on the other side of the highway.  The highway has a 50mph speed limit, and drivers seem to do much more than that.   As ever, there is little attempt to accomodate pedestrians.  Although I would be quite happy to cross over to get there, I've decided it's probably not a good idea to negotiate this on the way back, especially with them driving on the wrong side of the road.  So it's the scantily-clad ladies once more.
          Someone came in with a group of young teenage boys, about 12 to 15 years old.  It was obviously some sort of nature field trip.  The boys didn't know where to look.  Well, they did, of course, but they weren't quite sure they were allowed to.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Thursday 10th December 2009 - Peace and Quiet

          Moving to a new place always makes me feel a bit down.  I have to find somewhere to stay, hoping there's going to be an amenable bar close-by, where I can have a bit of chat.  I don't know a single soul, there are just so many things to go wrong.
          Then I get up, have a good breakfast, find the historical society library, get introduced to the index, and in no time at all I'm sitting in peace and quiet with something interesting to do.  And I feel really, really good.  I think I'm becoming addicted to historical societies.
          The Historical Society of Delaware Research Library is housed in an old bank on Wilmington's Market Street.  It used to be the Artisan's Savings Bank.  When I say "old", it opened in 1930.  I don't know how long it's been closed.  But it's an art-deco gem.   In fact, this whole section of Market street looks like some architect arrived in 1929 obsessed with what became art-deco, and somehow persuaded them to tear the whole place down and let him rebuild it.
 
          My thesis here is that, since the Missouri Glasgows came from here, it's possible that this might be named for the same family.  That's going to be tougher to prove than I hoped.  Glasgow is in the Pencader Hundred (that's how they divided up counties) in what was originally known as the "Welsh Tract".  So perhaps it's "Glas-cu", "dear green place" in what was British, and is now called Welsh.  And it seems to have started its colonial life as Aikentown, after the innkeeper, Matthew Aiken, who laid it out.  The will of Wm Thompson, in 1784, described some propery as "adjoining Aikentown.  Another, in 1803, describes property as "adjoining the Village of Glasgow, where I now live".  Matthew Aiken, in 1791, bought a "lot of ground known as Aiken Tavern" from one James Stewart.
          The 1787 property tax list for Christiana Hundred, next door, lists the estate of James Glasgow.  The James Glasgow after whom Glasgow Missouri was named was born in Christiana in 1784.  His mother was Eleanor Aiken Stuart.  Is there a family connection?
          Somewhere between 1784 and 1803, the name changed from Aikentown to Glasgow.  Question is: when, and why?
 
          Later that night I got into conversation with a man who had lost his 90k job, and now had one at 45k, working shifts.  He was quite cheerful about it.  45k is still quite good, and he hadn't lost his house.  He seemed a bit like Robert the Bruce's spider: he was just going to pick himself up and start climbing again.  I was full of admiration.  But I didn't ask him if he could fix motor cars, in case he tried to borrow money from me.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wednesday 9th December 2009 - Povery and Bibles: Luke 15:32

        I always load up my pictures to a Google site for backup.  So although I said I'd lost my backup computer, I didn't mean I lost any of the data.  But I was starting to write something about Montana, and I remembered virtually the first "Glasgow" picture I took, the one, just across the Montana border which said "Glasgow 118 Miles".  And I couldn't find it: not anywhere. 
          When I started, I wasn't as disciplined as I should be.  I thought it just another lesson: you have to remember what you see, you can't count on the pictures.  I passed on, got on with what I was writing.  And, d'you know, it suddenly popped into my head, some time later, apropos of nothing at all, that it might be on the flash drive I keep on my key chain.  And it was!  All the early photos I took were. 
          So I just had to celebrate.  For the more rusty Bible scholars, Luke 15:32 says "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found".  (That's the 'King James version, of course)
 
           I went down to see if the man with the used car lot could help me with the Rozzie problem.  Despite one of those big red cabinets up the back of the garage, he couldn't.  Well, it was a difficult problem.  But last night, at the bar, he had been telling me his sure-fire way of winning at blackjack.  Today he was flat broke, without even money for gas (that's really, really broke in America).  Not all Americans are rich.
           On the way back I stopped for lunch at one of those chain restaurant-bars.  It was very quiet, but I could hear a young man behind me droning on-and-on, in high management.  I had to sneak a peak.  He appeared to be the manager (or under-manager), and he was interviewing an anxious young lady for, by the sound of it, a waiting job.  I had thought he must be reading her large tracts of the company bible, but he wasn't reading anything at all: he had clearly memorised it.  I'm sure in present circumstances, she would be happy getting any job, but would you want to work for someone like that?
 
          Later that night, I visited the bar that's in walking distance.  Its curious claim-to-fame is the ritual humiliation of its female staff.  They have to wear the briefest of hotpants, and the tightest of vests.  The shift appeared to be changing, and some of them appeared briefly, properly dressed.  Suddenly, from being tasteless and vulgar, they looked quite nice.  I asked the young lady behind the bar what she looked like with her clothes on.  The chill chamber claimed it kept the beer at 21 degrees (that's F).  That would, of course, be solid.  But they didn't really need it, anyway: the barmaid could have frozen a bottle solid at twenty yards.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tuesday 8th December 2009 - Heading South

          A crisp sunny morning and it's south to Delaware.  It's only 40 minutes or so, down I-95.  I-95 runs down the east coast,, from the Canadian border with western Maine through all the main east coast cities to Miami.  Mostly it's as densely populated as Western Europe.
          The sound system failed its first test: I guess I chose the wrong frequency, and I'm getting interference.
 
          Delaware boasts of being the First State, because it was the first to ratify the Constitution. It is quite tiny.  It hardly matters where I stop, since everywhere is close to everywhere else.  Glasgow is in New Castle County, whose seat is Wilmington.  Delaware only has three counties, the others being, unimaginitively, Kent and Sussex.  It's possible, because it's so small, that  I might have to go to the state capital to find what I want.  The state capital is Dover, which is, unsurprisingly, in Kent.
          I've got a list of motel sites to visit, south of Newark and along to New Castle.  After much tooing-and-froing, Iend up nearly in New Castle, which puts me about half-way in between Glasgow and Wilmigton, which is just about right.  The roadsign outside says
[n0583]
 
          Later that night, I met a man who runs a used-car lot.  He thinks he can fix a small-but-irritating fault that Rozzie has developed.  I shall go and see him tomorrow.
          We were watching football on the TV, when up came an advert for a product which enables ladies to remove unwanted hair.  At whom could it have been aimed?  Is this the sort of thing American football fans buy as Christmas presents?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Monday 7th December 2009 - Wrong Side of the Tracks

          I finally found time to sort out my sound system.  It works rather well.  These free books are read by volunteers, unabridged.  It makes me realise what colour the editors and actors put on commercial audio books.  These are unembellished: I have to listen as though I was reading it.  It's just the words, which is how it should be.
 
          Later that night, I thought I would make another attempt at getting a cheesesteak.  It involved going back to that pub again.  I'm nothing if not game (or do I mean dumb?). 
          Anyway, Google had provided me with another pub just up the road, almost beside the recommended cheesesteak purveyors.  Well, the two pubs were chalksteak and cheesesteak.  Where to one I had visited yesterday was still as gentrified as ever (well, more so, actually: they had SkySports News on the ONLY TV, showing mostly soccer). 
          When I ventured across the trolley tracks (the trolleys are no more, but the tracks are still there) I was in another world.  Here were your (in English) horney-handed sons of the soil, your village Hamdens; supping from bottles of your regular American beers; indulging in what I would call "testing" humour (by-the-way, I think it's supposed to be a test).  It was, of course, nearly empty: unemployment here is over 10%, and that's only the official level.
         I finally got my cheesesteak.  Both the recommended places, which were right beside each other, appeared to be takeaways.  The only customer eating-in was a policeman (it was a very cold night).  This just might be Philly's 'fish-and-chips'.  I chose the more famous of the two, the one with historical street signs outside.  It was edible, but pretty poor, definitely from the wrong side of the gastronomic tracks.  I hope anyone anxious to sample the delights of Philly cheesesteak gets better advice than I did.
 
          Oh, and the holiday here season starts at Thanksgiving.  Here is a particularly charming example I saw on the way home:
[n0580]

Monday, 7 December 2009

Sunday 6th December 2009 - Plans, Ambitious and Otherwise

         When I tooled up for this trip, I thought it would be a good idea to get an MP3 player, so I could listen to things when the radio stations vanished.  However, when I attached it to my computer, it immediately formed an alliance with Windows Media Player to decide what would be downloaded ("synchronised" they called it).  "Don't you worry your little head about all this technical stuff", they said, "leave it to us".  "Oh no you don't" was my response.  I managed to kill of the "synchronising' business, which got us back to square one, but I didn't have time to work out what was going on so I could do it myself.  Rather sadly, I put the player away and forgot about it.
         Rather surprisingly, it survived the Great South Philly Smash-and-Grab of last week, so I thought this might be a good time to sort it out.  I have found a source of free audio books (they're read by volunteers, so that leaves a bit to be desired, sometimes), and I've worked out how to download them to the computer and onward to the player. 
         But I'm  a bit unhappy about driving with earphones, since I need to hear what's going on around me.  So I decided to buy either what I think are called "ventilated" earphones, or a FM radio-signal generator that I can plug the player into.
         The one-stop shop to go to for these things is "Best Buy".  Google tells me I will find it over by the Delaware river.
         As I arrive at the shop, something I recognise pops up on the river:
[n0573]
And it is what I think it is:
[n0576]
there, in quite considerable distress, is the SS United States, holder of the transatlantic Blue Riband.  Apparently she's been there since 1996, while a succession of owners fail to implement a series of ambitious plans.  A very sad sight indeed.
 
          It being Sunday, having sorted out my travel entertainment systems (It's going to be O Henry short stories for a while), I decide to have a Cheesesteak lunch at one of the restaurants which have been recommended to me.  Philadelphia transport (SEPTA) has a journey planner who clearly shares a lot of DNA with the one in London.  But I manage to make some sense of the journey (because it's built on a grid system, it's almost always two buses to get anywhere, and the trick is to be sure to ask, and pay for, a transfer when you get on the first one).
          With long, straight roads, it's possible to see the bus a considerable distance away, and since it's cold, I take to walking.  When I start to get close to my destination, a rare diagonal road turns up, so I take that.
          And, almost immediately, a gentrified pub appears.  I can tell it's gentrified because I've been ploughing through mean streets of elderly, black, brown and yellow, but here everyone is young and white.  Well, I say everyone, but not the man beside me.  He is certainly white, but nearer middle age.  He wants to talk.  It is a fascinating conversation, which I can't entirely follow: it involves him being an ex-policeman, and one of the young ladies at the other side of the bar being (I confess these weren't his words, but it's how I remember it) "up for it".  I try to be affable, and, since they won't serve him anymore (he's what the law calls a "VIP", a visibly intoxicated person), he eventually totters off in search of more drink.  He left a hefty amount of money on the bar: "Oh, he spent a lot", the barman said, to justify trousering it, "he bought the whole bar a round, twice".  Which clearly didn't buy him any favours.  I moaned that I hadn't got a drink, but had to put up with his ramblings.  "Yeah, tough break, that", they said, visibly amused.  
          The pub sold only the best of micro-brewed beer, some of it, they claimed, 11 per cent abv.  I stuck to the weakest, but it was still clear that my plan was unravelling.  I was dragged off on a pub-crawl with a couple of young ladies who had, as young ladies are wont, fallen deeply in love with me.  I did eventually get some cheesecake, but I have no recollection of whether it was good or bad.  I do remember that that pub actually had a handpump, and cask-conditioned ale, which is a great rarity here.
          Just in case you're wondering, the young ladies insisted on paying their way.  And I ended up, very much later that night, in a taxi back to my hotel: even the less-ambitious plans of mice and men ...
         
 
 

Saturday 5th December 2009 - Signs of the Times

          I have breakfast in the diner across the road.  As I look out the window to check the weather, I see two police cars, abreast, coming slowly round the ring road.  There is fire truck with all its lights blazing behind, and police cars racing past to the next junction, as motorcycle police do in Europe.  I think at first it must be some terrible disaster, but then I see, coming gradually around the bend, a processsion of fire trucks of all sizes and colours.
          When I get outside, the whole procession is wailing its sirens and sounding-off those wonderful tug-boat foghorns that American fire trucks use.  Nobody in the diner knew what it was about, but it was clearly some Christmas mission
[n0568]
because there in the middle, in a very venerable-looking fire truck, was my first sight of Santa.  There were trucks of all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours, so I guess it was all the townships around the ring road, as well as the city.
 
          I spent a fair amount of time arranging my Delaware landing.  I have found that getting the addresses of the big motel chains gets me to the places where motels 'flock', so I can do a price comparison before I get there, and a price-and-facilities comparison with the non-chains when I arrive.
          I've also started to develop another story.  I described an outline of it to someone in the place where it's set, and discovered, to my surprise, that another character popped-up unbidden.  So it's just possible that some unfortunate souls may get strange unwanted emails from me just to see if it helps with a story: you have been warned.
 
          Later that night, I watched a bit of football being played in driving snow.  The players and officials were clearly having a miserable time.  It was being played in Connecticutt, but the visiting team was from south Florida.  Their weather miseries must have been compounded by losing narrowly to a field goal in the final second of the game.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Friday 4th December 2009 - Another view of the 18th Century

    I have just been introduced to Philly's contibution to the culinary arts, Cheesesteak.  It's terrific, although I imagine it's possible to do it badly.  If this is what MacDonald's was aiming for with the cheeseburger, they missed by a mile.
 
          I should have paid attention at school during history lessons.  The younger you learn it, the better it sticks.  I have been reading about the 18th century (if only on Wikipedia) to put these McCalls in context.  My goodness, there was a lot going on.
          Now I'm pretty sure that, at school, I learned there were two Jacobite Uprisings, 1715 and 1745.  But there appear to have been several more they hid from me.  By-the-way, the 18th century, apparently, was longer than other centuries, running from 1688 to 1815, from the Glorious Revolution to the Battle of Waterloo.  The Jacobites were at it from 1689.  And they managed another one in 1719.
          Great Britain was only invented in 1707, but it inherited a full back-catalogue of wars from it's predecessor.  While the McCalls were dashing around the world (including India and China), there was the War of the Spanish Succession raging around them.  In case you think the American colonies were different, the same war, operating under the brand name of 'Queen Anne's War', was in full swing north, west and south of them.
          It's almost as though what we didn't listen to at school, "oh yeah, another war, so?", was something they didn't listen to either.  As if, when you lived and did business on the international stage in the 18th century, war was a constant backgound noise which you just had to ignore.
          While the McCalls were putting together their colonial trading network, they were part of developing the greatest trading enterprise the world has ever seen.  And this, of course is what the fighting was about. 
          If the teenage McCall brothers had a dream of colonial trading, the British Navy helped them put it together.  If success depends on being in the right place at the right time, that's exactly where they had managed to place themselves; and their Glasgows.
 
          They must be a very bad lot, historians.  There's always David Irving to curse, and Hugh Trevor-Roper to remind about Hitler's Diaries, but these small guys wandering in and out of Historical Societies must be a light-fingered lot.  I have been shown, more than once, files with bits missing.  The bigger societies try to police it.  Pennsylvania works very hard.  Although they don't (yet) resort to guns, I think, if they had the equipment, they also would have looked up my bottom. They certainly closely examined the crevices of my computer.  There is a notice outside the restroom forbiding us to take research papers inside.  I must say I thought it was to prevent, how shall I put this, emergency misuse of them, but there are clearly other possibilities.
          At least they're trying to stop me taking things out: the guys with guns are trying to stop me taking things in.

Thursday 3rd December 2009 - At last the 18th Century

          The day started with an email from the young man detailed to come and fix Rozzie's tackle.  (I'd had a voicemail the previous evening telling me his name)  I could hardly wait to meet him: he was clearly one of the most wonderful people ever to grace the planet; and I was also anxious to get up to the Historical Society.
          While I was waiting, I checked out the travel insurance, since the car insurance doesn't cover unattached objects.  The travel insurance doesn't really cover them either, if they're in an 'unattended vehicle'.  If they're locked in the boot, and I can find the receipts and current value (since the manuals went with it, I can't even remember the model of the camera), they'll reluctantly cough up a miserable hundred quid.
          And it was really my own fault for leaving them there.  Especially since I left my coats hanging up in the back, looking like I was packed and ready to go.  I got lulled and lazy and violated my own golden rule: it's not about alarms and deterrence, it's about prudence and camoflage.  These people are cunning and professional: it looked worth the risk, and so it was.
          It only took half-an-hour to fix.  And he put in tinted glass, so I didn't have to arrange tinting, which I thought I would.  He cleaned up well enough, but, of course, there will be little bits of glass popping up forever to remind me of my folly.
 
          So, finally, I got to use my weekly pass to take the number seventeen up to town to the Historical Society.  They have one of those wonderful, lofty reading rooms which turn out to be one of the joys of this trip.  And mountains of material about the McCalls, including two books by decendants with material about their Scottish origins.  (One includes a rather doubtful suggestion that they are related to the McAuleys.  This allows the production of tartans and coats-of-arms, orgiastic material for middle class Americans.  I shall certainly dismiss that, since it would make them distantly related to me through my paternal grandmother.)
          The Society has rules, quite rightly, about photographing material, and, as well as charging, likes records to be kept.  So I will have to use today to get organised, and come back tomorrow to photograph it all.  Digital photos are, without doubt, the best way to transport and maintain these sort of notes.  I'm even hoping some of it wil be 'pdf-able'.
          Sufficient to say at this point that that George's father was not a wealthy Glasgow merchant called Samuel: that was his brother.  His father was a wealthy Nithsdale farmer (near Sanquhar, about halfway between Ayr and Dumfries) called William. 
          Being as George arrived in Pennsylvania in 1702, at the age of 18, it is a tempting thesis that the brothers made some boyish, farsighted plan, seeing Glasgow as the obvious centre for colonial trade, which they actually managed to turn into reality.
          Given the commercial development of Great Britain (remember there isn't one in 1702) over the 18th Century, is it possible that these men not only created one of the Glasgows in Pennsylvania, they made a major contribution to developing Glasgow Scotland as well.
 
          Later that night I found what claims to be Philly's oldest tavern, McGillin's, which sells seriously good beer.  It's actually made by Stoudt's, McGillin's just pretend.  They sell some thirty draft beers, and when a waitresss asks which is which, the barmaid sniffs them and decides: very impressive.
          The sports channels, to do with the World Cup draw, were repeatedly showing France's cheat goal against Ireland.  You really can't get away with that, can you?  You can't run a system where everyone on the planet knows you got it wrong but you insist your rules trump that.  The right answer is to devise a system where the world doesn't get to see more than the referee, which is the right answer.  Some people still dispute one of the England 1966 goals, but nobody actually knows.
          Since I'm now studying 18th Century British Imperial glory, I say let's chuck the French out and let the Irish in.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Wednesday 2nd December 2009 - The Big City Experience

          I came to Philly for the 'big city' experience, and the 'big city' experience I certainly got: Rozzie was violated in the dead of night.  He struggled manfully and defended most of my tackle.  They got only the back-up camera and backup laptop, which, I have to say, I thought were well-disguised and well-concealed.
          It occurs to me that the thief may have been a music critic, hired by my Christmas card list.  The laptop was where the video-editting software lived.  My big Christmas production was well under way, and was going to fill the world with awe.  I expect it to appear on UTube momentarily, as the Americans say.
          So I have to anounce there will be no Christmas video this year.  Any UTube counterfeits will will be poor early cuts.  Last's year's startling production is still available in the far corners of EBay, for those who can afford it.
          The thief, having entered head-first through a back-door window, left 63 cents behind.  I hope my insurance company makes a better offer. 
          I once came back from holiday, and, as the plane came in over London, I saw Big Ben and Parliament and thought it would make a memorable picture.  But the shutter stuck open.  I had a long struggle with the insurance company.  They eventually paid up: being me, I was prepared to go as far as the United Nations to get what was right.   I was berating them to an insurance broker I met some time later, and he told me that a lot of people, having gone through a whole holiday without using their expensive insurance, decide, when they get home, to claim for a broken camera.  And that's what it must have looked like I was doing.
 
         So I didn't get to the Historical Society yet again.  But I did get to meet Philly's 'Finest', who dusted poor old Rozzie for prints (with, strangely, a vermilion-red powder which is now everwhere).  Just for once, I got the feeling that the men with guns were on my side, and wanted to push things up other peoples' bottoms.
          I must have got the cheapo economy 'big city' package: if a mugging had been included they would surely have chosen the exquisitely appropriate City Hall subway station yesterday.
 
          Later that night, I rushed off to the Philadium to tell my story and soak up the sympathy.  One can always rely on the natives to feel slightly guilty and over-compensate with the hospitality.
          I had got into conversation on Monday night with a man who stayed much of his time near Glasgow Kentucky.  I asked after him at the bar.  He was killed on his way to work very early on Tuesday morning.  Someone crossed the central divide (the 'median', as the barman called it) and hit him head-on.
          As far as I could understand him, talking about his retirement, he had a grown family and a younger family, girls still in college.  The bar said he had a proud mother nearby.  So a lot of Christmases have been ruined.  And my disaster slipped way down the scale to "not worth mentioning".

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Tuesday 1st December 2009 - The Annie Hall Moment

          My plan for today was to spend most of it in the Historical Society Library.  I started with a longish walk to the nearest subway station, so I might buy a weekly season ticket for the subway and buses.
          I took the subway to City Hall, where the station was clearly designed by muggers with a view to maximising privacy.  When I found my way to the surface I was quite relieved.
          I had memorised the address, so I strode off vigorously for another long walk.  When I got there, I found I was outside Bookbinders restaurant.  Not only had I memorised the wrong address, I was now two miles from the right one.  But it did solve one problem:  Bookbinders is another victim of the times.
[n0484]
          I hadn't quite the energy to walk the two miles back, and the library was closing early, so I looked round for a bar to rest in.  Up popped the City Tavern, which is a quaint tourist trap (well, I'm a tourist), an 18th century copy, complete with liveried flunkeys.  The local brewery makes four 'revolutionary' ales for them, from recipes used by Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Hamilton.  The tavern sells a "sampler" of all four. 
[n0490]
          I hoped Franklin's would be best, given that he is credited with saying that beer was "proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy", but I expected Jefferson's would be pretty good too, being as he was pretty good at everything.  Naturally, I thought that, being a soldier, Washington's would be worst, which, conveniently, valued them in the same order as they appear on banknotes. 
          Just for the record, I was wrong again: to my taste, Washington's was best, and Franklin's, by a long way, the worst.
 
          Later that night, having done a lot of walking round the city, I found myself in an Irish Bar.  A young lady insisted on talking to me.  Apparently her phone wasn't working properly, kept switching itself off.  I suggested it might be trying to help her, by stopping her saying the silly things she was saying.  I said she would get better as she got older, and she said she intended to stay young forever.
          I reminded her of my favorite quote from Shakespeare, "Thou should't have been wise before thou hadst been old".  "It's from his greatest play, 'King Lear'", I said.  And, blow me down, the woman on the next stool produced a copy of 'King Lear' from her purse (now what's the chances of that?).  When we found it (Act I, scene 5), it turned out what he actually wrote was "Thou shoulds't not have been old till thou hadst been wise".  I felt much like the man in the cinema queue in "Annie Hall".

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sunday-Monday 29th-30th November 2009 - A Bit of Recidivism

          It being Sunday morning, a good breakfast and a quiet read are called for.  Since I am in one of the poorer parts of town, I have to pass several giant Pharmacies.  On the way back, I decide to pay a visit, see if they have any of the tablets I take to mitigate the effects of the Great Five-a-Side Disaster of 2003.  But, as usual in chemist's shops, all the writing turns fuzzy, and none of the shelf-orderings make any sense at all.  But, to my surprise, something comes into focus.  It is saddle soap.  Just what I need for my cowboy boots.  And it is nearly what I was looking for.  Why would a chemist have saddle soap?  Is it reputed among the poor to have special healing powers?  I should just be grateful I don't have to mount a special search, it being quite difficult to order things on the internet when you're on the move.
 
          My US 'poste restante' has forwarded, electronically (not a service available to the common people) a story about me which appeared on the front page of the Beaver Times (no, that's not a frat-boy magazine, it's the weekly newspaper of Beaver County PA, wherein lies the Borough of Glasgow).  It is unusually accurate and perceptive for a newspaper, describing me, in the headline, as a "witty Scot".
 
           It is time to pack-up and move on.  I have done the three Glasgows of Pennsylvania: the smallest (and it's the Borough); the post office (where the address is "Glasgow, PA", with a zip code); and the oldest (I think).  The one thing remaining is to stop off in Philly and find out a bit more about the McCalls, who named the oldest.  If there are still any McCalls extant, they will undoubtedly be members of the St Andrew's Society, and, of course, I will be arriving on St Andrew's Day.
          In fact, St Andrew's Day turns out to be so wet, I could be in the Western Highlands.  It, and Philly's tall buildings, drive Dulcie into one of her turns.  I can, literally, see her twisting her knickers, as the maps she's showing me rotate through 360 degrees every time I turn a corner, and she shouts mutually contradictory orders.
          I find, in the very centre of town, a hotel where I can just justify the price.  I finally give in to myself: I decide to stay for the week.  Despite all this small-town travel, I am, at heart, a city slicker.  This may my last chance to see the second largest city on the east coast, the nation's first capital.  I've only ever been here before on a fleeting evening visit.
          The hotel didn't work out: their wifi wasn't anything near 'fi'; the tv didn't work; the microwave didn't work; and, most surprisingly of all, for an American hotel, the bathroom, though private, was across the corridor.  The last straw was after the hour I spent trying to see if I could live with the wifi, I found I was freezing, that one of the windows was jammed open, and there seemed to be no heating.  They took it on the chin and gave me my money back, so I will resist the temptation to name-and-shame.  Let it be used as a learning process for others.  But it means I'm now on the outskirts, as usual.
 
          Later that night, I find a local bar with a very grand name (the "Philadium"!).  Therein I find a local (I thought he was from NY, but he said "Italian market - you know, where they threw him the orange in "Rocky" - we have lots of different accents here") who lives sometimes in Kentucky, near another Glasgow, and a barman who, after a bit of warming conversation, fills the glass unprompted.  As Voltaire put it "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". (Well, his Pangloss character, mimicking Leibnitz, to be more precise, and he did, of course, actually say "tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes" (isn't the internet wonderful too?)).

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Saturday 28th November 2009 - The Deference of the Young

          I listen mostly to NPR on my computer.  Currently, I use WQED, which I picked up off-air while passing Pittsburg.  I find light classics make it easy to read, and sometimes even write, without being too distracted.  But I was certainly thoroughly distracted today, by a programme from Salt Lake City.  It was highlighting the talents of young musicians, one of whom, at ten years old gave us a terrific rendition of that hoary old trumpet test piece, "Carnival of Venice", triple-toongin' an' all (as I understand it, triple-tonguing is like when you hum a tune and say "dugga-dugga-dugga" at the same time)  Anyway, I found myself in one of those rare moments when I just had to applaud the radio, even although they couldn't hear me, and I was on my own.  There is, I seem to remember, a moment like that in the film of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", when the "Chief" throws the ball (I think).
 
          Later that night, there is a grown-up lady in the bar, about my age.  The barman is quite young, and, as well as being a volunteer fireman (the firehouse is across the street) he is from West Viriginia, not far from that Glasgow.  But, being from West Virginia, he is unable to stop himself referring to this lady as "Miss -----'.  I think it is possible he was unaware he was doing it.
          A notice behind the bar proclaims that they have a shuffleboard league.  The proximity of Shuffleboard and Grown-up ladies, of course, drives me to a frenzy.  They promise to let me play, but when we get through the back, this shuffleboard table bears almost no resemblance to those of my Montana triumphs.  It was more a kind-of electromechanical version of 9-pin table bowling, using a shuffleboard puck.  When I described the game I knew, they said they called that "long board".  This game, like 10-pin bowling, lacks any contact with the enemy.  The "long board" version, like bowls on grass, has the thrill of symbolic contact.
          A man sat beside me and ordered a large Chivas Regal, which he proceeded to stuff with ice.  He asked if my accent was Scottish or Irish.  He said he was part-Irish or Scottish.  He was certainly part-black, like the President.  I told him he couldn't possible be part-Scottish if he did that to Chivas Regal.  I guess he must have been part-Irish, 'cos I had to explain it to him fairly slowly.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Friday 27th November 2009 - Black Friday

         The day after Thanksgiving appears  to be called "Black Friday".  It's a shoppingfest, where all the shops claim to reduce their prices by more than anybody else.  I was advised to stay away from shops, since it is sometimes fatal.
         There was no need for anyone to worry: the Thanksgiving-dodging went on so long last night that it was nearly noon before I surfaced, with no intention of going near anywhere.
 
         I met a man who wants to change the constitution of the United States: no small challenge.  His case, as far as I could follow it, was that if you were a tenant, you didn't have the same protection from the state invading your privacy as an owner did.  If, for example, the state requires your landlord to provide smoke alarms, it can enter your premises to check if he's doing that, even if you don't want it too.  He's got a point, of course, but it's not a battle I can see him winning.  It is probably a general truth about all "Nanny" state activity, that they are invading the privacy of the people they profess to be protecting, and they no doubt abuse these responsibilities from time to time.  He wanted people to support him.  They wanted to talk about something else.
 
         Later that night, we talked about my next stop, Glasgow Delaware.  I managed an American joke which they understood.  "Where is it near?" they wanted to know.  "It's in Delaware", I said, "everywhere's near everywhere else in Delaware."
         We also had more bad taste jokes on the TV.  Like "Altzheimer's isn't all bad - you get to meet new people every day!"

Friday, 27 November 2009

Thursday 26th November 2009 - To Give Thanks or Not to Give Thanks

          I paused and thought about what I might have to give thanks for, and I realised, immediately, that arriving on the Queen Mary certainly knocked the Mayflower into a cocked hat.  On the other hand, the representatives sent to greet us by the current inhabitants' government were not nearly as welcoming.  One wonders what the original founding fathers would have thought if the natives had said "I'm afraid we can only let you stay for six months": might have changed the whole course of history.
 
          Everyone I pass wishes me a Happy Thanksgiving, even those who don't look like they're enjoying one themselves.  Montgomery County is really a suburb of Philladelphia.  It's the 20th richest county in the US, and one of only 30 with a Standard and Poors AAA rating, but it sure doesn't look like that where I'm staying.
 
          Later that night, I struggle down to the nearest bar to join a small but dedicated band of Thanksgiving dodgers.  They are watching a TV channel called Comedy Central, with a ventriloquist called Jeff Dunham, of whom I had not previously heard.  As was once said about Tom Lerher, Mr Dunham's muse is not fettered by such considerations as taste.  To give you a flavour, one of the sketches was entitled "Achmed the Dead Terrorist Hits on a MILF".  (For those of you unaware of what a MILF is, don't look it up on the internet unless your malware and virus protection is comprehensive and bang up-to-date.)  In another, the puppet justifies misremembering someone's name as "Vagina" by claiming that she's French!
 

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Wednesday 25th November 2009 - Come from Texas

[The title is an insider's reference to Clint Eastwood, his greatest film, "The Outlaw Josey Wales" being based on a book, "Gone to Texas" by one Forest Carter.  It's a good book, to which the film is fairly faithful.  (I've started, so I'll finish) Forest Carter has a fascinating bit of history.  He subsequently wrote a really wonderful book called "The Education of Little Tree", about a young Native American brought up by his grandfather. He wrote it as a part-Cherokee story teller, about his own history.  It was much-lauded by the intelligensia, adding to Native American culture.  His name should have been a bit of a giveaway: he was named for a Civil War Confederate General.  It turned out that this Forest Carter had been a speechwriter for the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan: embarassment all round.  But, and I repeat, but, it was a very good book.  Makes you grateful the Hitler was a lousy painter, doesn't it?  Imagine he had been good.  Would his paintings have been sought after "for their own sake"?  Mind you, if he'd been a good painter, he might not have destroyed most of Europe.]
 
          I have been collecting law enforcement shoulder patches on my trip.  It all started in Montana, when the Police Chief said "come round, I'll give you a shoulder patch."  Ever since, I just go and ask.  Well, actually, I agonise over asking, because, if it was me, I would refuse.  And I hate worrying or puzzling people with guns.
          In the Montgomery County Courthouse, in the front office of the Sheriff's department, there was only one man without a gun, and he asked me how he could help.  I said I wanted to talk to someone about a shoulder patch, and he said that would be him.  And he gave me one.
          At the same time, in the courthouse, I saw a map which said that Glasgow was actually in Pottstown Borough.  So I thought I'd better go back to Pottstown (it's only 20 miles) and ask them for one too.  This is a city police department.  I got to talk to a young dispatcher, armed, it looked like, to the teeth, through artillery-proof glass.  He thought my project "awesome" (that probably tells you something about his age).  He wanted ID, and took down my address.  He said they would send it to me.
 
          Because it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I don't know what'll be open, I stop at a supermarket on the way back, to buy some provisions.  I can't find something I'm looking for. There is a young lady checking the shelves, and ticking boxes on a list.  I ask her where I might find what I'm looking for.  "Oh", she says, "I don't work here.  I've never been in this shop before".  So what could she have been doing?  Had she misunderstood 'virtual shopping', and instead of going to virtual shops to buy real goods, she was going to real shops and buying virtual goods?  It would certainly save her a lot of money: retail therapy at low cost.
          So I wandered on, and found a young man filling shelves.  This had to be a better bet.  But he claimed not to work there either.  Perhaps nobody works there.  Perhaps the checkout is really a bank branch, and the suppliers just leave things on the shelves for some accountant to work out payment.
 
          Later that night, I got my last quarter.  Just in case you were still wondering how Texas got into it, the quarter coin comes in many editions, with the states on the obverse.  I have been collecting them, just by checking my normal change.  And for some time now, I have only been missing Texas.  And, finally, Texas turned up.  So I now have the full set.  Well, actually, I don't, because there are also editions for the overseas territories (Puerto Rica, etc) and there are two mints, with a small mark on the front, 'D' for Denver and 'P' for Philladelphia.  But I'm not going to get caught up in that.  The next thing I'd be looking for proof coins, then I'd be trading and so on.  I'm collecting Glasgows, not coins.
 

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Tuesday 24th November 2009 - It's Not What You Know

          I like to start at the Historical Society, absorb a few names, before I head for the courthouse.  Unfortunately, The Historical Society chooses Tuesdays to stay open in the evening, and therefore doesn't open till the afternoon.
          So I start at the courthouse.  Being a city, it has gentlemen with guns to look up my bottom before I get in.  And when I get in, it turns out that the Recorder of Deeds is now in another building.  They think it's quite funny, but they return my knives, cameras, and recording devices without a murmur.
          This county is computerised.  I can look up names, I can look up addresses, but I can't lift up big heavy tombs and bump into the right thing by accident.  There is no 'collateral' searching.  So I find very little.  To be fair, it must be much better if you're a lawyer doing what the records are kept for.  I find references to "at what is known as Glasgow", and "Glasgow Estate", but nothing leading back any distance in time.  Of course, when it acquired its name, this was Philadelphia County, and a crown colony, so all this is probably a waste of time anyway. 
          As President Reagan said after he got shot, "All in all, I'd rather be in Philadelphia".  (That's what W C Fields proposed as his epitaph, but it was never used as such).  Perhaps I need to go there.
 
          The McCalls, it would seem, were a fabulous family, in the sense of rich and powerful.  George and his wife had their portraits painted by Hessulius, the pre-eminent American portrait painter of the time.  The children belonged to exclusive dining clubs, one of which restricted itself to 25 members.  They married into other wealthy and powerful families.  One daughter married the son of the Governor of New York, himself a Scot, another the son of the President of the New Jersey Provincial Council, and yet another the Mayor of Philladelphia.  The sons, like their father, were on the City Council.  They were active in the Dancing Academy, an attempt (apparently successful) to emulate the goings-on in Bath (don't forget, this is a colony).  But they were also active in the St Andrew's Society, which, although it enjoyed dining and socialising, also did charitable work among the distressed Scots of Philladelphia.  Half of them were married in Christ Church, where George was a vestryman.  Christ Church is sometimes described as the first church of America, with seven signatories to the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin, in its graveyard  (the St Andrew's Society, by the way, boasts five).  Christ Church, perhaps surprisingly was CofE.
          One very odd fact has to be reported.  George's second daughter, Anne, married her cousin, who had come from Scotland, and was named for their grandfather, Samuel.  And then her younger brother, who was also named for their grandfather, married someone called Anne.  If you wanted to hide your identity, you couldn't do it better.
          And it wasn't a "rags to riches" story, either.  The grandfather, Samuel, was a wealthy Glasgow merchant, and the grandmother was the daughter of a (Scottish) Court of Sessions judge. 
          I guess if George wanted to call this place "Glasgow", "Glasgow" it was going to be.
 
          Later that night, I found myself drinking from a glass advertising the "Intercourse Brewing Company"  "Ho, ho, ho", I thought, "they're real cards, these micro-brewers.  That's not a gnat's gnipple away from "Dog's Bollocks" and the like.  But it does seem an odd package, beer and intercourse.  Not reputed to go too well together.
          So I asked the Landlord.  "Oh, no", he said, "Its from Intercourse.  That's just up the road."  And so it is.  I've looked it up. 
          It's even got a Best Western, the "Intercourse Inn".  You couldn't make that up, could you?  "Why don't we go away for the weekend, darling, get to know each other a bit better". 
          "What a wonderful idea, darling.  Where shall we go?"
          "Well, I know a wonderful little Inn, darling, very out-of-the way".
          "What's it called, darling?"
          ...
          It's not going to work , is it?