Sun and Fun

Before I forget: do you remember last editorial, starting off with a lyric from VNV Nation? Well, guess which band played Phoenix less than 24 hours after I got here? Yep, VNV Nation – and I had absolutely no idea until I got here that this was the case, and that they would be taking the same flight as me, the following day. Might have been better for me if I’d been on the same plane, as I got a severe going-over by Customs on the way in, probably since it was my sixth trip to America this year… Explaining fifty copies of TC was bad enough. Explaining the bag of plaster-of-paris (don’t ask!) was even worse. But I imagine the Customs Officer will have got a good beer story out of me at least…

So, here I am in Phoenix, and very pleasant it is too – ten days in, and it hasn’t rained yet. I even had to go out and buy a pair of sunglasses the other day, not having brought a pair with me (“I won’t need them in November” – not in London, no, but in Arizona, they appear to be an all-year-round accessory). It has been, obviously, a period of settling-in, but this has been largely painless and easy: I’ve been busy working on Chris’s web-site, polishing it up, with the eventual aim of adding e-commercy things like shopping-carts, etc. I have been able to do absolutely nothing on the work front, since there is still no sign of the visa – any more than there is any sign of a generally-agreed president. Fine by me. 😉

I’ve been exploring the neighbourhood – on foot, for reasons which the next paragraph will explain, but that alone is somewhat unusual behaviour here. I was pleased to realise that there are shops, and indeed, a very nice mall, within walking distance, so fears about 30-minute drives every time we need a pint of milk, have proven unfounded. But no-one walks. In my lunchtime strolls, it’s not uncommon for me to be meandering around for an entire hour, without seeing one single person outside of a parking lot. In the summer, I can understand this – I’ve been here in July, and you only want to go from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car – but it’s now down in the 70’s and very pleasant.

However, by the time you see this, I will hopefully have moved one crucial step closer towards embracing that all-American lifestyle: tomorrow sees me sitting my driving test. Or, at least, the written part of it, which is all you need to pass in order to get a basic permit, allowing you out on the roads. I’m somewhat nervous about this, even though it’s multiple-choice, it having been several years since I’ve done so much as sit behind the wheel of any vehicle, and so have been frantically studying the driver’s manual (the US version of The Highway Code) in preparation for the inquisition. I just hope there are no trick questions, like “What side of the road do you drive on?”

I’ve now passed through my first Thanksgiving, an orgy of consumption which is like Christmas without any of the irritating religious trappings. Though as soon as you get Thanskgiving out of the way, Christmas itself does pounce upon you. We only just hit December this morning, but already one radio station has gone onto playing nothing but Christmas music, 24 hours a day. The bulk of our Christmas decorations haven’t quite gone up yet (that’s a job scheduled for this weekend), but we are a long way behind some houses in the neighbourhood there, who mount dazzling displays which must be a threat to low-flying aircraft.

And now it’s almost time to send out for pizza and settle down in front of the television. Fortunately, as yet, the novelty of commercials every 90 seconds hasn’t quite worn off…