Wednesday 26 March 2014

Book tour day five - Philadelphia

Tuesday begins in leisurely fashion. Gazing vaguely at the TV in my undercrackers.

It's not an attractive sight, but no-one's there to see it. Washed, shaven and bekecked, I head up to the fifth floor for breakfast. It's billed as a continental breakfast. I don't get my hopes up too much.

If I liked cake, I'd be in heaven. Sadly I'm savoury to my core. I've only two topping options: butter or cheese.

At least I assume it's cheese. When I unwrap a slice the contents seem more plasticy than the plastic around them. Though it doesn't seem to make much difference whether I eat that or the wrapper, I plonk the cream-coloured putty on a slice of toast. Can something have negative taste? This reputed cheese seems to. Negative texture, too. It pushes the boundary of bland further than I care to go.

Not the best breakfast I've ever had.

I ask the hotel to call me a cab. I'm still waiting for someone to come back with that old gag "OK, you're a cab." but they never do. As I'd hoped, it's a car service rather than a yellow cab. I ask the driver how much it will cost to get to Penn Station. pretty reasonable is what it is.

The traffic is heavy and I've not quite as much time as I'd hoped at the station. I needed three things: a wee, some food for the train and a stiff drink. Not necessarily in that order. Though I did need the wee first. If an unfortunate trouser-soiling incident were to be avoided.

Luckily Penn Station had public bogs. Free ones. And not even filthy. Score.

I spot a TGI Friday's on the concourse and slip up to the bar.

"Is this seat free" I ask the nice young lady alreadt sitting at the bar.


I order a double Jack Daniels. The young lady is drinking a cocktail. And has a ring in her nose. She's also reading a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

"He's a great writer. I loved his stuff when I was younger." I've only 10 minutes. Why not spend them talking to another human being? No chance of being suspected of trying to chat her up. I've only time for a few sentences and a quickly gulped dose of whiskey.

She's waiting for a train, too, unsurprisingly. Just had an interview at the publisher's Penguin. I tell her I'm in the US to promote my book.

"What's it called?"

"The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer." I have to repeat it three times before she undertands it.

"It's your accent."

Been a while since I had anyone struggle with my accent. Though it happened fairly regularly when I lived in New York. I think I'm pretty easy to understand.

I'd like to eat on the train. I can't linger. The only reason I have any time left at all is that my train is 30 minutes late. At least that's what it said on the departure board.

I say goodbye to the nice young lady and rush off in search of food. A sandwich is all I need. I blow off my first choice when the queue appears immobile. I get served immediately at the next place. But have to wait to pay. Which prompts some grade-A worrying.

Pointlessly, as it turns out. They still haven't let passengers down onto the platform. I've some waiting to do.

"Have your tickets and id ready for inspection." That instruction was to cause me a good deal of panic in a few moments. But we'll learn about that next time . . .

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

T.G.I. Friday’s
484 8th Ave
New York, NY 10001
Tel: +1 212-630-0307

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