Chapter 1. The Schlep Begins
Just when you thought it was safe to open up your computer the virus called Delboy of W1 appears to bite your bum!!! Yes my avid and loyal fans, it’s me again, off off and away oi vay, and this time I’ve got six months of travel to bore you with. At this point you have a choice; either delete my name from your files or read on and get to know a few places on the planet that you don’t know. This time you’re fearless and intrepid traveller is going by boat, planes, trains, buses and cabs. Yes folks, it’s the big one again but as the Chinese say ‘A journey of a thousand miles will start with one step’. Well it only took 38 steps down the stairs of my flats to fall arse over tit carrying my luggage. Good start, I thought to myself. I managed to get out onto the street without killing myself which gave me hope that I might even make it to Heathrow.
Being the mean git that I am I took the underground to the airport using the old bastards pass the Mayor gave me. An hour later I struggled into terminal five; I threw my bags onto a trolley and presented myself to the BA desk. So far so good, something must go wrong soon I pondered. I didn’t have to wait long either. ‘You’re only allowed to check in one bag sir’. Said the BA clerk with a smile. ‘I’m sorry’ I replied. ‘I thought I booked with British Airways and not Ryan Air’. ‘The excess baggage charge will be £40’ he said. ‘Don’t have much of a choice really do I?’ I said. ‘No sir, not if you want to fly with your entire luggage’. ‘Window or isle seat sir?’ he enquired. ‘I’d like a seat near the black box’ I said. ‘They always find the black box’! That sort of went right over his head because he simply told me to go to another desk to pay and they will issue the boarding pass.
No point in getting pissed about the excess baggage. I’ve had to pack for time on the ships and time off for good behaviour. As I was quite early I thought I’ll go to the Priority Lounge away from the plebs. I went to the BA Executive lounge and asked where I might find the lounge that accepted my card. ‘Nowhere in terminal five’ said the pretty lady behind the desk. ‘It’s only for British Airways card holders’. At this point I proudly presented my British Airways Executive card and gave it to her. ‘This is a blue card sir’ she said. ‘Yes’ I replied. ‘The clue is in the colour’. ‘To get into this lounge you have to have silver or gold card, or if you have booked business class you can enter’. Was her feeble explanation. ‘I’m travelling cattle class’ I told her. ‘To bad’ she said, and turned to greet the next customer. This is getting better by the minute I thought and made my way to the gate. Sitting with the poor people can’t be that bad I thought? I’ve had to do it practically all my life and why change the habits of a lifetime?
BA115 took off on time heading west for JFK New York. Two films, two meals and a nap latter the trolley dolly announced we were about to land. I looked out of the window and the whole of New York was ablaze with lights twinkling all over the city. It’s quite a sight to behold. We landed safely and after 20 minutes of driving the plane into our parking bay we all exited with the usual ‘Thank you for flying BA, good night and god bless, keep well, have a nice day.’ The walk to the customs hall felt like a 25 mile hike. I waited in line until called to go forward. I suddenly had a bad feeling. What if they think I’m Osama bin Stratton? My holiday could be a very short one. I wonder if it’s worth claiming asylum from Cameron & Co. The immigration officer was a woman; her badge said her name was Maria Sanchez. I presented my passport to her, she studied it for a few moments and asked me to look into the camera and asked to take my finger prints. ‘How long will you be in the United States ?’ She asked. ‘About 18 hours’ I replied. ‘In transit’ she enquired. ‘Sort of’ I said ’I’m meeting a cruise ship’ ‘Wow’ says she. ‘You much be a rich man.’ I looked at her squarely in the face and said. ‘I have been extremely lucky in my life Maria. I was very fortunate enough to have married a fabulously wealthy woman. Well she must have been wealthy the way she used to spend my money along with everyone else’s’. Maria gave a shriek of laughter and said ‘Mr Stratton, that’s the best one I’ve heard this year. You’re a very funny man’. I looked at her over the top of my specs and said. ‘Maria, if you think that’s funny, you really need to get out more’. ‘I must tell you something immigration officer Sanchez.’ I said. ‘I’ve been to several countries around the world over the years and this one is defiantly a first for me’ ‘What is?’ she enquired. ‘It’s the first time in my life that I’ve come across an immigration officer with a sense of humour’. This time she gave the biggest of smiles and said ‘You have a great time in the United States and a great cruise sir’. Next was customs. A miserable bastard looked at me, then my bags and back to me and waved me through without saying a word. I made it I thought to myself. I’m here!! I collected my suit case and the forty quid bag, and loaded them onto a $5 trolley.
The next hurdle is how to get to the Hotel Pennsylvania in down town Manhattan . I walked out of the terminal building thinking cab, train or bus. All that dissolved when facing me was a large bill board in English, Spanish and Arabic announcing the all singing and dancing shuttle to Manhattan for $15. This is getting better I thought. ‘I’m going to the hotel Pennsylvania ‘I told the young man dishing out the tickets. ‘No problem Sir. We go all the way to Penn Station and the driver will drop you outside your hotel’. I boarded the bus and after waiting to fill up the people carrier off we went. The drive into Manhattan took about 40 minutes and we all had to get out at Grand Central Station. The driver told us to walk up to the next block and another van would take us the rest of the way. 20 minutes later we all loaded into van number two and the driver dropped me outside my hotel. From the outside it looks immense. The street is filled with thousands of people milling around. It’s Penn Train Station I thought to myself. No wonder it’s busy. Well if it was busy outside that was nothing compared to the inside of the hotel? The queue to check in seemed to disappear round the corner by the restaurant. You needed a pair of binoculars to see the end of it. Eventually I check in and was given a room on the 17th floor. Breakfast I am told is on my floor in room 1710. On closer inspection I can see that this hotel is the same as it was when the Germans started shooting in then First World War. It looked like I was in a black and white movie. The walls were grey and the carpet was as old as me. Anyway the key opened my door and an enormous bed greeted me. Hello Delboy it said. I dropped the bags and fell into the bed undressing while lying down. With the time difference it was now five in the morning and I was completely knackered. I could have used the word xxxxxx to describe how I felt but it could be construed as vulgar and inappropriate.So enddeth the first day!!
Stay tuned or not so tuned for the next thrilling instalment of Delboy does de World.
(Copyright D. Stratton – If you would like to Email Derek on his travels please send email@example.com your request and email details and message and it will be passed onto Derek on his world tour)