Damn Those Seahawks
The memories were fresh, though a little jaded, of the previous night. Spotty, Buzz & I had watched the game in our customary place – The Black Bear, Hoboken. I had sent far too many texts to Jarvo back in Blighty, and during these exchanges, I accidentally accepted a small wager from Jeano. She kind of slipped that one under the radar, whilst I was wrapped up in all the excitement. I mean – to knowingly accept a bet from someone who has more knowledge of US football than I know about mobile phones, would be stupid! (Speaking of mobile phones – I’ll be sending my invoice for consultancy on phone settings in to Jeano soon. I mean, $10 to get the thing off T9 predictive text for her was a bargain!)
We checked out of the excellent Metro hotel in Manhattan, and made the short walk to Penn Station. Originally, the bus was going to be used to get us over to Philly, but the extra hours sleep the train option gave was a no-brainer, so off we went. A couple of trains, and three hours later, we were in 30th St. Station in Philly. That’s one pretty amazing station, with high ceilings, and art deco design. Waiting outside the station, we wondered where Jeano was. It transpired that the station can be exited from two sides, and Sod’s Law dictates that when one is presented with a 50/50 option – the actual chances of picking the correct one are, in fact, 0/100. Once we had crossed the station again, we met up with Jeano. We walked out to the car, and I was pleasantly surprised. Despite extensive forensic checks, I was unable to locate a single dent anywhere on the entire vehicle! This left something of a quandary. Was the car BRAND NEW? Had Jeano car-jacked it moments before meeting us? Did someone else usually drive it? After reading about Camilla, I couldn’t believe that this was Jeano’s regular transport. Nevertheless, as she had the keys, and seemed familiar with it, we all went to jump in. Foolishly, I hadn’t reckoned on the car being equipped with an ‘Attention Dog’. (These are like Guard Dog’s, except that their Raison d’Être is to solicit – no, DEMAND – the maximum amount of fuss at all times.) And so, at this point, we met Hamish. Although initially reloaded into the back of the car, he took approximately 14 milliseconds to travel round to the front, and settle onto Scott’s lap for a fuss-fest lasting the entire journey. Speaking of the journey, this began with a diversion through some of the less savoury areas of town. In fact, at one point Jeano suggested that if the car broke down, we should all have a suicide pact. We all agreed. After a short drive, the King of Prussia Mall hove into view. I have considered various adjectives to use when trying to describe this structure. Gigantic, enormous, massive, Herculean, elephantine, prodigious, voluminous etc. I’m settling for BIG. F@$"&%g BIG! Jeez, it took about 10 minutes to drive past one side of it. The famous line from the Blues Brothers sprang to mind; ‘This mall has everything…..’ Moments later, we arrived at Chez Jeano. I was immediately struck with the fact that every one of Jeano’s neighbours has some kind of Stars ‘n’ Stripes hanging outside. Not Jeano’s though. Oh no. Jeanon ’s front door sported a pair of Union Flags! That’s one short of the flag of St. George, and highly commendable!
We piled in, and after opening a few beers (twist caps, Jeano, twist caps), we had a tour of the manor. I must say at this point that Jeano has a lovely house, and if it were possible to jack it up, and plonk it down somewhere in Surrey, I would move in tomorrow. As KofP residents have already done this with their pub, I don’t see this being a problem.
King of Prussia Mall
Now, let’s clarify one point here about the trip to the Mall. It was always going to happen. I had a near empty case with me, and a shopping list, OK? Spotty and Buzz also had a small list of items to pick up, and so when the offer of a trip to the shops was made, it was graciously accepted. My recollection of events is somewhat dissimilar to Jeano’s. Military precision and decisive actions were taken in order to fulfil all shopping requirements in the minimum amount of time (with one smoke-break). The trainers I purchased were the first pair I tried on, and I refuse to believe that action may be likened to that of a female shopper! I will concede that my other actions (impulse purchases, and far too many carrier bags full of stuff) were, indeed, decidedly girly. But hey, at least I’m in touch with my feminine side :o)
We drove back to the Manor, unloaded our haul, and settled down in front of the 900" TV in the den. Time for relaxation. Time for relaxation? No, it was ‘Hamish-Time’. Hamish has a small selection of chew toys, and a constitution which would put the Energizer Bunny to shame. In fact, I think he’s the result of a brief liaison between the Energizer Bunny, and the Terminator, as ‘he absolutely, positively WILL NOT STOP’. After working out that Buzz is not a huge fan of cats or dogs, he was Hamish’s first port of call. Aversion therapy is what I think it’s called. And Hamish has a PhD in that. Still, he’s not a bad little guy, although he is more than slightly obsessed with squirrels, and adopts a strict patrol regime to ensure they are excluded from the garden.
This part is just for Jarvo.
We had Cheese Steaks! Ner-Nerny Ner Ner!
Said in the voice of a certain Little Britain character:
‘Ooh, they were GORGEOUS! They were LUSH!’
The evening’s entertainment then followed, and a trip to Hooters was offered, and graciously accepted. It was hard work pouring all that beer down, whilst being served by waitresses who appeared to have started work just before they finished dressing. It’s fair to say I am going to visit Hooters again on my next trip. It’s also fair to write to them, asking them to open up in Weybridge – I think the locals will like it (although you’ll never see Leechy in the Grotto ever again). After what seemed like 10 minutes, we headed back to the Manor for a nightcap.
The next morning began when Buzz (who had been hiding out in the downstairs loo for several hours), finally managed to jump out and surprise the hell out of Marina. You have to admire his dedication to the comedic moment. I performed the not inconsiderable feat of condensing 6 bags of shopping into my small suitcase. We all had toast and marmalade, and polished off most of the leftover devilled eggs. After several coffees, Buzz declared that he had got his shakes down to an acceptable level (just as I thought – Laser Envy), and we headed off for a whistle-stop tour of Valley Forge. This is a national park, and quite charming. It was a pleasant change to visit a well run, modern and tidy facility, and not even to have to stump up an admission charge. We also met an archaeologist who brought new levels of enthusiasm to his role. This guy was Mr. Valley Forge – he lived and breathed the place, as he poured over belt buckles, shot pellets, bottles and buttons, all of which had been dug up RIGHT HERE! I could have stayed a while longer, but as Jeano was glazing over and inspecting the ceiling tiles with large yawns, we had to prize ourselves from him, and beat a hasty retreat. We all wandered into the souvenir shop, and it was here that the spookiest moment of the trip happened. Buzz turned to me and commented that he was visiting Valley Forge ‘to find out where the Brits went wrong’. Just as he made this flippant comment, a book on a nearby shelf launched itself to the floor. There was no reason for this to have happened, except the fact that Buzz’s remark had angered one of the spirits who reside in Valley Forge. I for one am glad that he made the comment, and not me! After a quick tour of the grounds, it was time to head off to meet ‘Dave’s Limousines’ who would be transporting us back to JFK airport.
All too quickly, our visit to Philly was over. Hugs and kisses exchanged, and a realisation that we were heading home.
Jeano – Thank you indeed for your gracious hospitality. Thank you for the beer. Thank you for the insider knowledge of the KofP mall. Thank you for your humour. And thankyouthankyouthankyou for Hooters!
Quoting again from the Terminator: ‘I’ll be back!’