I don't lie in too late. I don't want to be in a rush at the airport. I hate rushing, and especially at airports.
I take Monday's drive in reverse, down the same dully tan motorway. It's no prettier today. Nor are the rusting subway stations stuck between it carriageways. Occasional battered silver trains rock past.
I'm flying with United again. There's something disturbingly anarchic about self-service checkin in the USA. Confusion reigns. My confirmation number isn't recognised so I scan my passport, then enter the first three letters of my destination "GRA". I pick Grand Rapids from the list and it says . . . . it can't find a reservation for Mr. Pattinson for that destination in the next 12 hours. What?
I try again and get the same result. Then I realise I've been trying to check in on the hand baggage only section. I try the deeply anarchic checked in bag section. It's like a refugee column, bags and confused people strewn everywhere.
Eventually the Chinese youth in front of me finishes checking in and it's my turn. Where the hell has my booking gone? I scan my passport again and enter "GRA" once more. Hang on - there are two Grand Rapids in the list: MN and MI. I'm going to Grand Rapids MI, not MN. Silly me. I gratefully clutch my boarding pass and dump my bag.
I'd counted on getting some breakfast here at the airport. But I'm too late. Everywhere stops breakfast at 10 am. Seems a bit early to me. I have to make do with a hamburger instead.
I get to my gate but can't see any mention of my flight. That's not good. I find a screen and sure enough "Delayed - awaiting aircraft.". Damn. Same shit as Monday. The gate has changed, too. I traipse off to the new gate. And wait. Isn't this fun?
I'm lucky. Today the flight's only a couple of hours late. Stan Hieronymous is supposed to be picking me up it 17:00 for a joint event this evening. Looks like I'll be just about there in time.
It's 16:45 when I drop my bag on the floor of my room. I've got enough time to put my toothbrush in the bathroom and quickly check my mail on my flipflop before rushing off to the lobby. Stan arrives a few minutes later.
Great to see Stan again. We've only met in the flesh once before, many years ago. Had plenty of email contact in the meantime. Steve Siciliano is waiting in a car outside. He's organised the event tonight out at Perrin Brewing, where me and Stan will be signing books. There will be a bunch of homebrewers there with beer, too. Sounds like fun.
But first Steve takes us to look at his shop, Siciliano's Market. He sells not just homebrewing supples and but commecially-brewed beer, too. It's pretty neat. We can't stay long because we need to get to the brewery and set up.
"Do you need the PA?" Steve asks me.
"Nah, I don't think so. I talk pretty loud, especially after a couple of beers."
I change my mind after going inside. It's a echoey barn of a place and all the noise from the crowded bar rises straight up to the upper level where we'll be. I'll be on a hiding to nothing without a mike.
Homebrewers start to trickle upstairs. They've got beer with them. A special beer that was brewed at a big outdoor event in a city square. Everyone got the same basic Brown Ale recipe but were free to play around with it by adding extra ingredients of leaving ones out. They're surprisingly diverse.
Stan speaks for a couple of minutes, then it's my turn. Twenty unscripted minutes on historic brewing. It goes OK, despite the din. I'm getting quite used to this, standing up and saying, sort of, "Buy my book." for a while. Well. not quite as upfront as that, but you get the idea.
When I've done talking bollocks, I flog a few books, sign rather more, chat, drink beer, meet people and do all the fun things you can do in a pub. Quite a lot of beer is drunk.
I don't get back too late. I've a breakfast appointment with the Langlies. We still have quite finished othe talk we'll be giving tomorrow. Oh well, what's the worst that could happen?
You'd be disappointed if I didn't take this opportunity to push my book. And I wouldn't want to disappoint you.
The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.
2840 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Tel: 616 453 9674
Perrin Brewing Company
5910 Comstock Park Dr NW,
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