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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Texas weather is weird. I was actually planning to moan about my ill health today, in another transparent attempt to get some sympathy, but as it happens, yesterday's snow has been replaced by bright sunshine and blue skies today, and I've had a kewl time in downtown Dallas. So I'll postpone the complaining (only temporarily of course) in favour of some grassy knoll chat instead.

But first let's return to Valentine's Day. Out of the blue (well, grey), I was chatted up by a pretty girl at the eyebrow waxers yesterday. She saw me waiting alone on the comfy sofa reading the women's magazines and looking at the hair removal menu, and with my sister out of the picture, saw her chance to pounce. Unfortunately she was only about five years old. But she was clearly smitten, and told me she was tidying up the magazines just for me. We then chatted for a good thirty seconds. Which technically makes this my most successful Valentine's Day yet.

Full of newfound optimism (and a certain amount of phlegm) we ploughed on through the snow to lunch at Schlotsky's Deli ("Funny Name, Serious Sandwich") in the unlikely named town of Terrell, which also featured the Tanger Outlet Center - a row of shops which had the audacity not to be housed inside a giant air-conditioned mall. We bought up the entire contents of 'Vitamin World' in an effort to cure our ills, and I very nearly purchased a bottle of pills called 'Male Confidence'. It sounded like just what I need, until I read the back of the bottle. I didn't buy it.

Unfortunately my new magic pills failed to pick me up, and by last night I was reading through my medical insurance documents and wondering if I could get a home visit from a qualified nurse.

Today however, I woke up in a different Texas. The three inches of snow had vanished overnight, the ground was dry, and the sun was shining. So over breakfast we decided to head on down to the local murder scene at Dealey Plaza.

I'd just like to break off for a moment here, and mention my skills as a clairvoyant. Eleven months ago, before Big Sis even knew she was moving to Texas, I wrote the following exchange of dialogue in my play 'Ledgers':

ROBYN: So how about you?

PETE: I think I might take a holiday. There's a whole world of high rise buildings out there. I might go to Dallas. Jump off the book depository onto the grassy knoll.

ROBYN: Well if you're gonna do something, you might as well do it in style.

PETE: Exactly. Alternatively I may just go back to bed until teatime.

Now, that last bit was fulfilled within a couple of days. And has been re-fulfilled many times since. But the Dallas bit, is that spooky or what? I clearly have some kind of second sight. And what's more, I'm available for children's parties.

And like Pete, I never did jump.

Is it my imagination, or is this blog getting more and more self-indulgent?

Anyhoo. We found Dealey Plaza in the west end of Dallas, and with much excitement took about half a dozen photos before realising we were actually in the wrong place, and the grassy knoll was on the other side of the road. Undeterred, we stood and listened to a conspiracy theorist who was trying to flog CDs, took note of all the landmarks he pointed out, then politely refused to buy anything. I posed for numerous photos in front of numerous death-related points of interest, then we made our way to the JFK memorial, where we stood in quiet contemplation. And then bought smoothies.

After lunch we made our way into the Sixth Floor Museum, which is in the old Texas schoolbook depository building from which Lee Harvey Oswald did or didn't shoot the Prez, depending on your personal gullibility level. We looked out of the window at the scene of the crime, felt quite impressed by Oswald's marksmanship, then arrived at the electronic guestbooks, where you can leave a message on the computer for subsequent visitors to read. Big Sis felt we should add something profound, in a cynical attempt to get our message into one of the permanent displays. I dictated, she typed, and after about twenty minutes and a hundred rewrites (during which we rejected my suggestion to use the phrase "speaking on behalf of all British people"), we finally managed to come up with two sentences which we felt encapsulated the right blend of reverential shmaltz.

And with great excitement, I can now reveal that our comments are there for all to see on the museum website! I'm so proud. So click here and scroll down to the page with the messages for 3pm this afternoon (currently page one). Big Sis and I are there in all our glory.

Having walked around Dallas' historic district without a jumper all afternoon, the weather went to our heads, and we drove home in the convertible with the roof down. For two people with colds, in the middle of February, that wasn't perhaps the wisest plan. But ironically my cold is now the least of my worries. Twenty four hours ago I was complaining about the sleet, snow, and freezing temperatures. This evening I'm sunburnt.