Archive for the ‘Americana’ Category

I stayed here for a few nights back in the 1990s when the sign looked like this:

Some year later I joined a good humoured online piss-take about the place and its specially featured COLOR TV. Someone thought they might even have phones too! I think I can see Bobba Fet coming down through the trees on the left; someone else could see it too.

Today I reminisced and had another look at motels in Asheville. Note the original COLOR TV sign has been retained. But of course. Such magnificent artifacts can be overshadowed in size and glare but never surpassed in the annals of good taste:

Looks like a set for a remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice, though you couldn’t beat Bob Rafelson’s 1981  version  with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson.

Apart from my virtually total recall of every scene and piece of dialogue from the whole of The Outlaw Josey Wales, there are many other short movie scenes that are easily recalled at random moments or when prompted into the mind’s eye by some other image or sound or remark. Two of them for me involve Robert Redford, the first is when he has just told Paul Newman, aka Butch Cassidy, that he can’t swim so he’s not going to jump into a river at the bottom of a gorge to escape from the rapidly approaching posse (“Who are those guys?” It’s all coming back). It’s just the look on his face and the seriously embarrassed, reluctant nod, in the instant before Butch bursts out laughing. Brilliant and one that just comes randomly from time to time.

The other one is going to come and go regularly if the current hot weather carries on. We’ve put up our “summer” curtains in the back room and they sometimes blow gently in and out the french doors. Every time I see that, there’s Redford again, aka Jay Gatsby, on a hot afternoon, floating on his airbed in his pool, turning at some sound to look back through the gently moving curtains hoping desperately that it’s Daisy come to him, having left Tom Buchanan for good. Of course, his tension is not ours, as we have seen Scott Wilson, great piece of acting, aka George Wilson, approaching, taking a revolver out of a crumpled brown paper bag, sweating, shaking, reeling from seeing his own image in Gatsby’s mirror while the curtains continue to blow gently in and out around the revolver blasts and Gatsby dies.  Here’s a few shots of our little curtains, images dwarfed by those in the film but enough to take me back through that whole wonderfully constructed scene.

         Screenplay F F Coppola. Why am I not surprised.

Great film, great book.

We went to our local library in Alsager for an hour this morning, on National Poetry Day in the UK, to see and listen to W Terry Fox read some poetry. I consider it well worth visiting that link to some YouTube performances. It was a fine way to spend time and Barbara also enjoyed it. He talked quite a bit about Mow Cop where he lived for a time and still lives “down bank” a bit at Whitehill.  The event attracted an audience of about a dozen, two of whom had travelled from Crewe. It was a free occasion, funded by the Friends of Alsager Library.

Poetry has always been a minor interest of mine, humming quietly along in the background to a life, ever since that A Level course in Eng. Lit. at school with good old “Gabby” Hayes where he introduced us to the beauty of John Keats’ work. Alongside many of his own fine poems, W Terry Fox read Keats’ Ode to Autumn today, (read and hear here) which took me right back to those days in that particular seat in that particular classroom, as clear as if  I were there now.

I remember those times with Gabby (middle row, second from the right) as a bejewelled island in a murky sea of dark drudgery and suffering from the rest of my schooldays. There were only four of us in the class, as I remember, which added to the privilege and sheer pleasure of coming from a bookless and often cheerless home to that highly skilled introduction to classic literature over two years that probably helped to nurture whatever semblance of sanity I ever had. Thanks Gabby and Thanks Terry.

Poetry in Chicago? Well, here’s a poem by








Robert Pinsky featured on the excellent website of The Poetry Foundation based there; from such a simple thing like the next time you put on a shirt or skirt, he has fashioned simple but resonant words.

Here’s the second piece of old furniture I have subjected to cleaning and polishing:

We bought it for £20 from an antique shop at Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire when it looked like this

with a piece of brown, damaged lino inset into the top, coming loose. That’s the picture I sent to Ursula, the researcher at St. Bride Library to see if she could identify whether it was indeed a “newspaper lettering table” as a friend thought. She is going to show it to Nigel the librarian to help, as it does have a familiar look.

It has been a pleasant day in the garden doing the last part of the cleaning while listening to the 3rd day of the Test Match (cricket) against India. There can be few better ways of spending a Saturday afternoon in July. Good tip from the internet – clean Bakelite with Brasso.

Just as I had finished applying the first coat of finishing wax and brought it indoors, Julie next door came round with her delightful 2 and a half year old son Adam. I took him up the shed and showed him the bees coming to and going from their nest (hive?) under the floor, which he thought was amazing and great fun as we stood in their flight path, which of course it is.

The two literature classes I have become a member of are to start up again in September. The tutor of one has sent us the “syllabus” for hers, with the title Aspects of Empire with a reading list of works all completely new to me, which will take me where I’ve rarely been in terms of style and subject – Paul Theroux, Kowloon Tong, V S Naipaul, A Bend in the River, Paul Scott, The Jewel in the Crown, Leonard Woolf, The Village in the Jungle and Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal. Looking forward to all that. The other “tutor” – this isn’t strictly accurate as we all “volunteer” to contribute a paper or a short talk on something under our general theme – has suggested that I might like to do a presentation on the Beat Generation of writers. Our theme is American Literature 1940-1960 which should be great for me. I’ve revisited Howl already and bought the Penguin Portable Beat Reader. Hours and weeks of unadulterated pleasure there, then.

Thursday June 8 2000

Noon – through Smithfield on 70 to Becky’s Log Cabin which is very nice. Checked in for Thursday and Friday . Lunch to Eddie Murphy film.

Let us take time, therefore, to be gracious, to be thoughtful, to be kind, using the social graces as one means of turning the wheels of progress with greater velocity on the upward road to equal opportunity and justice for all” – Charlotte Hawkins Brown, quoted in North Carolina Historic Sites leaflet.

Earl Had to Die” on Country Channel on TV/Radio (No picture). E-mails

4.00 p.m. Smithfield




Arranged to arrive Richlands end of next week to meet Vernon [who? 11.5.2011].

Library at Smithfield Thursday 8/6 [?] Superb set of encyclopaedia – American Decades edited by Vincent Tompkins (1996) Gale Research Inc., Detroit, MI48226 (a division of ITP Co Ltd) goes from 1900 to 1989

Fri 9th June 7.50p.m.  Log Cabin Motel Smithfield.

At 7.15 I sat on a chair and hunched over a low coffee table looking at the Road Atlas when on came suddenly the right-side kidney pain I’ve had at least 6 times before. It isn’t getting any worse or better. Have taken two Anadin Extra. Best position is squatting or curled in a ball face down on the floor. It goes off for about 1 second only then returns. Have packed everything in case I have to call Emergency Paramedics and leave in a hurry and fished out the Medical Insurance!! It’s taking my breath away as usual. Hopefully it will pass through like all the others and I’ll just need painillers ’til it shifts. Guess I should drink lots of water, which I will now do.

8.05 Has moved round to the front, as is usual, and is just as bad, in waves which make me sweat, or at least go hot.

8.10 Two more Anadin Extras. Feel a bit sick now.

[1220 A.M. Friday I AM BACK]

Staggered over to the Motel office where there was nobody to be seen except a party of four also looking for the receptionist. She came in two minutes and they let me go first. She dialled 911 and Paramedics arrived within 10 minutes, one para-driver bloke, one woman paramedic and a trainee. They did not immediately jump out to help this bearded, rather unkempt, crouched over and grimacing apparition that greeted them in the car park. Having eventually got me laid down inside the ambulance, and checked out that I had insurance (pre-packed in top of rucksack), they started an IV drip of fluid, blood pressure, pulse 3 cardiogram (?) sticky connections to chest and lower left abdomen. In less than 5 minutes I am in the A&E booth for the painkillers etc. Everyone extremely efficient. Morphine given and it kicked in after 10 minutes, lovely. Asked for a urine sample, I was delighted to see the little bugger emerge into the filter over the sample bottle. Still woozy after the morphine, but am back in Room 28 of the Log Cabin Motel at 1230. They gave me a Yellow Pages to get a cab – $5 and a $5 tip. See specimen jar to see the only American Kidney Stone in the family [currently lost 21.5.2011]. Dr. Mike Baker gave me a comprehensive run down on everything they had done. All tests normal (including pulse of 68 while waiting for the pain to go off). He said his wife has had children and she’s had kidney stones and she would rather have a baby than experience the pain of kidney stones.

Plans back on track for tomorrow as long as wooziness has cleared.

0910 Saturday 10th

Woke 0830 went to breakfast – one waitress for what looked like half a dozen coachloads of residents. Got some coffee, after 25 minutes and ordered toast. Left without, after 40 minutes for own banana breakfast. No more cheese-of-the-kidney-stone-making fame.

Saturday 10th 2.40 p.m. Williamston Holiday Inn. 2 nights booked. Pool, coffemaker in room.

Phoned home with kidney stone news. Stopped off in Chocowitty – took photos of VW “Bug Meet”, had a hot dog.

















Then stopped in Washington for an hour. On to Williamston up bumpy old 17N. 80% of travellers are retired, white haired, slightly overweight and very happy with their lot. No Yankees. Father and son fishing at Log Cabin. Son caught a big fish photographed by Dad. Thought about laundry today but thought again.

Receptionist conversation with resident: “Busy today?” “No, fairly quiet” “Just before the lull?(sic) ….” He was getting some “nourishment before golf this afternoon”. Put tickets and passport in safety deposit. Reception area of this Holiday Inn has leather chairs in greenand cardboard book spines on the “shelves”. They can certainly do eggs over easy and thin crispy streaky bacon. Waitresses “of a certain age”, very efficient, confident. Young black guy all in black strode through but he was on his way to the kitchen. Car still in the shade, though there’s a nice cooling breeze. Going to be 90+ today

9 a.m. Downtown Williamston – deserted. Discover Our Town pennants. Uh?

Only a few cars passing every so often mostly driven by blacks. White couple, retired, shorts, walking pug dog for its morning ablutions.

50% closed down shops. Drove out to Hamilton seeking Fort Branch Battlefield site. Missed it – found lots of churches, people arriving. Can’t find back road to the river. Saw Fort Branch Road on way back. Looks like it just leads to a house and nothing else. Drove on to get gas in Williamston and back to cool of room. Classical music station like ClassicFM. No towel or linen change today – door hanging notices ask for cooperation to conserve water and energy and environment. V. good idea. Holiday Inns a grade up from Days Inn.

2.20 Sunday 11 June Holiday Inn. Went out and found Fort Branch Battle site – Fort closed due to Storm Damage – see photos. [?]

Read discharge documents from Johnston Memorial Hospital. Very good detail. No mention of charges. 90 degrees outside but a good breeze. CNN World Report v.good. Phillipines, Spain, Sierra Leone.  Watching The Hunt for Red October – US propaganda submarine movie. Tonight at 8 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, tomorrow- Elizabeth City, Appomatox Virginia and maybe Lynchburg.

6:55 p.m. Appomatox Viginia. This budget Motel is OK. £35 a night, good A/C, grass and woods out the back window, Information Centre round the corner, supermarket next door, Post Office opposite, (bit like 62 Station Road, where I live). Reserving all day tomorrow for the Lee/Grant surrender site visit. Some of it is “reconstructed” but so what, this is where it happened. Long but pleasant 6 hour drive here well worth it. Came past the Great Dismal Swamp and through Suffolk Virginia.

About 21 miles to Lynchburg VA but don’t think I’ll go on to there. Sent Ed and Beth very strange “graduation” cards and e-mails to everyone, including Mick Cooke. Lady in gift shop by Information Centre says there’s a very good bookshop at the Courthouse site. We’ll see….

Everyone asks where I’m from. Nice lady in supermarket asked me if if Elton John lives in London! LA, I think. She’d lived in LA for 2 years.

8:55 a.m. Tuesday 13 June 2000

Sitting outside Confederate Cemetery at Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park. Watching praire dog (?) feeding and going in and out of burrow. Birds singing, little traffic. I had arrived really early and I shall always remember standing by the roadside in the quiet morning; I swear I could hear the sounds of the final confrontation between Grant and Lee’s armies just over the rise, with the gunfire, shouts and horses. Park opens in 5 minutes. Praire dog having a wash.







Bought 3 tapes of Country and Western music. Liked the Park and the houses. And displays. Worth it. Very “atmospheric” $4 entry.
















Back to Granny Bees restaurant for a BLT lunch. Very traditional 1950s type interior, locals eating there, more comments on accent. Found new book on Faulkner on the Recent Acquisitions display in the library after checking in and sending e-mails – Daniel J Singal – William Faulkner – The making of a modernist 1997: UNC Press: Chapel Hill & London [ bought this in 2010 to support a paper I gave to reading group at Bradwell Community Centre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme]. Village idiot came in gift shop back by Information Centre. Baseball cap, T-shirt, shorts, unshaven, eating ice-cream, greeted by shop assistant, “What do you need, George?”. Bought 3 CDs of string music/ songs and got a Christmas one free. Got to cool off.

Back to Budget Motel, been up since 5:00 Have put a plaster on the IV hole under my watch, which the paramedic shifted to my other arm.