Thursday, March 12, 2020


I recently returned from the US, and none too soon from the look of things, as the Americans appear to be ready to pull down the shutters.

It was a hastily arranged and unexpected trip. I could just leave you hanging under the nebulous explanation of “Family Emergency” but in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that the reason was my brother died.

Or, rather, he was sick. Very, very sick. So I booked a flight, got to my son’s house, where I was going to stay, and called for an update and was told he was at his home but was very groggy and to visit in the morning. Then he died during the night.

This was, naturally, a tragedy within my family. But you are not in my family so I feel comfortable sharing a bit of black humor with you, especially since this black humor originated within my family:

Exactly the same thing happened when my father died. He was very ill, I jumped on a plane, arrived late in the evening and when I got up the next day to go visit him I found he had died during the night. This has earned me the moniker “The Angle of Death” and my other brother requested that, if he is ever sick, to please not visit him. A phone call, he told me, would do.

And like my father, my brother’s wishes were to be cremated and disposed of without ceremony, which, again, afforded me two weeks in America with no demands on my time. And no adult supervision.

As it turned out, there was a memorial for him, arranged by his daughter, and it was really very nice. No punches were thrown, so I’d call it a success.

Since I have already come to terms with the notion that I no longer fit into America, I won’t go on about the changes and how I feel like a foreigner and all that “when I a boy” shit. I’ll just point out a few interesting details:

When I visited last October, I saw something remarkable that I failed to remark on in my posts about the trip. Along Route 9, in an area that used to be fields and scrub brush, a vast area had been cleared. And I mean vast. It was so large I genuinely thought they were gong to build a new village in it.

When I drove up Route 9 this trip, there was a building on the site.

It's an Amazon Fulfilment Center, and I think you can see it from space.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding this. It is providing jobs, but they are low-paid and temporary, but at least—as one friend put it—the ceramic coffee pot and orange juicer will be sure to arrive by the next day, and that’s what’s really important.

On a trip to the grocery store, I saw this:

I get that Americans are into St, Patrick's Day a lot more than the Brits, but this was the 21st of February!

One of the best thing about visiting the US is going out to eat—for me, anyway; my vegetarian wife has a bit of trouble, but she wasn’t with me, so it was Applebee’s and Cracker Barrel and the Valatie Cafe and, well, let’s just say I enjoyed myself. However, if you recall my previous post, you’ll know that I have been on the IF Diet. This, of course, went on hold while I was away, but in the week that I was on the diet before I left, I lost 7 pounds. When I returned from the States, however, I was ten pounds heavier. 

All I can say about that is, it was a good thing I started that diet when I did. Now all I have to do is claw back the gains (losses) I made.

It was an unusually warm and snow-free winter, at least in the lowlands.

A sultry day playing hockey in the driveway. Not a usual sight in Upstate NY during February.

When, on the 28th of February, I went into the wilds to visit my other brother, this is what I found:

And it was jolly well cold, too!
Meanwhile, back in Sussex...
I also found it was his birthday.

My brother, in his Man Cave.

I had forgotten all about it and, as we talked about birthdays and anniversaries, I realized that it was also 18 years to the day when I had left the US for Blighty. So it was quite a nostalgic evening.

There really wasn’t much else of note that happened, other than the shock of airport prices and the surprise of a near-empty flight on the way home.

Between $9.50 and $11.55 for a beer to go with your $24.00 hamburger?!?
There is taking advantage and there is taking the piss, and this is taking the piss.
Add to that the fact that there was not a seat to sit in that did not have one of these screens in front of it
urging you to buy over-priced food.

It was, despite the reason for it, a nice trip. It brought to mind again how important family is, even one as far-flung as my own. And, perhaps, being so far-flung makes it that much more important.

The G-Kids


  1. None of your pics show up on the blog. Might be my computer? or ? But I'm sorry that your brother passed before you could see him. But at least you were there for the family and the memorial.

    1. Thanks. Odd about the photos. I hope it's not like that for everyone.

    2. Fixed...I hope!

    3. Yes, fixed! Thanks