It was a longish day in the air. One of the many fallouts of recession is a reduction in the numbers travelling by plane and my original 2 hour flight from Denver to Portland, leaving at a comfortable 2.00, was changed to an 8 hour marathon via Dallas. I near as nothing missed the flight from Dallas to Portland. At no stage was I reminded that Dallas is an hour ahead of Denver, which meant that at 2.30, when the screens called passengers for departure, I was still enjoying time on the internet. By a complete stroke of luck, I went to get a coffee from a shop near the Portland departure gate at 2.40. I noticed passengers gathering with intent to board and it was only then that I discovered there was a time difference.
I sat next to Gwynneth. She is a nurse and was returning from a conference in Savannah. You get serious points if you know which state that is in. She has much that you would expect from the archetypal matronly nurse, not least a Jacquesesque physique. There was no need for her to tell me I had a beautiful body and to request I held it against her because the laws of space and volume, combined with American Airlines’ need to maximise customer numbers on any given flight, made such an outcome inevitable. My experience of females at the larger end of the spectrum is that they either have the character and personality to match or that the very opposite is the case. There is not much in the middle. Gwynneth was very much in the former group and we had not got very far off the ground before she had given me all the details of her family ( husband, two sons and three grandsons ) and pumped me for details and photographs of mine. I asked her whether any Welsh connections lay behind her name. Her response was about 5 minutes long. There are no Welsh connections ( 10 seconds ) but neither are there with the egregious Miss Paltrow, who doesn’t seem to have done too badly on it ( 4 minutes and 50 seconds ). I detected more than a hint of irritation at her thunder having been stolen. It must be quite difficult when all your life people have said ‘what a lovely and unusual name’ when it suddenly becomes ‘oh, just like the actress’.
The other highlight was flying straight past Mt Hood, the most shapley, conical strato-volcano. It emerges from the surrounding range like a lone pustule on a teenage face. Except it is a thing of enormous beauty. Perhaps more like a nipple on a perfectly formed tit.
Todd met me at the airport and I now have a couple of days with the only people I know in this part of the USA. We are going to the coast tomorrow ( forecast warm ) and to the Columbia River gorge, which sounds to me like a glacial meltwater overflow channel, on Sunday. It is very good to be with friends and Clare, Todd and I were so conversational over supper that Oliver ( 9 ) and Amelia ( 6 ) were reduced to putting their hands up to get a word in. Alexandra ( 14 ) was off to ballroom dancing, which is something that every teenage girl does, apparently, but very rarely uses. Ben ( 16 ) was playing soccer for the school team.
I am enjoying it hugely.