March 25th, 2007


Boston, 22-24 March 2007

A weird weird day: Having risen at 05:30 I may have been a little bleary as I heaved my trek bag across the bridge at Ipswich station to catch the London-bound train. Ignoring my reserved seat as being too distant, I settled into a corner where I was soon hemmed in by other travellers. Sitting quietly, playing Animal Crossing on my NDS, I was surprised to hear the conductor calling my name over the tannoy. I was requested to come to his booth for something important but not urgent. After the Stratford stop, when the crush abated, I wandered back down the train to learn the conductor's news.

My wallet was in Ipswich awaiting collection upon my return. This was not good news to a man en route to the US. The helpful conductor spoke to his Ipswich colleagues and arranged for it to be sent to Liverpool Street station on the next train. I had some 90 minutes to wait so I telephoned American Airlines from the First Class Lounge to see what could be done about my imminent non-arrival for my flight. The airline was helpful and agreed to change my flight for a $200 fee.

I received my wallet just 60 minutes before my original flight left Heathrow. "You're really early" said the nice women at check-in when I presented my revised ticket; a revision that had been made at no charge when to ticket agent heard my sad story. The check-in clerks were sympathetic and checked that I had not been surcharged. So, it was with a warm heart that I arrived in the Admirals Club to spend the five hours before the next flight. I was so glad to have a shower and the idle afternoon was pleasantly relaxing. And so was the flight.

When I reached Boston Logan I was very pleasantly surprised to find Ed waiting for me at the barrier even though I had told him that, in view of the delay, I would make my own way to my hotel. Ed is lovely and talking to him pushed me through the jet lag boundary. He had brought me a bunch of Redsox memorabilia as a welcome gift, which I opened in my marvellously luxurious suite in the Customs House. We went across the street to the Black Rose pub where a three-piece band played traditional Irish music while the audience sang along and a pretty girl danced. In between songs, Ed and I caught up on our news until he called time.

No jet lag problems for me this trip. I went to bed after midnight and slept solidly until just before Tim phoned me. We arranged to meet mid-afternoon so I left a message for Ed and went out to explore my old haunts. Boston has grown taller in my absence but otherwise little has changed. I sat in a Starbucks reading the Globe and watching the world go by. Borders insisted that I buy books so nothing had changed there; but when did the corner bookshop become a diamond store? Walking into the first floor of Filene's to find it was the top level of the Basement was a sad moment; and even the original Basement felt different (although I suspect that it has changed less than I). Barnes & Noble has also gone; Downtown Crossing seems to be in decline, which I regret.

Tim and I started our afternoon in the Black Rose, where there was no music at all. Although Wikipedia dominated our conversation, we talked widely as we drank. For dinner we went back to Cambridge to collect Kitt before walking to a neighbourhood Italian restaurant that was as good as it gets. We talked for hours until sleepiness forced me to surrender.

Saturday morning saw me cross the street to the T and head out to the airport first thing. This time I kept my wallet and my flight to La Guardia was entirely uneventful.