A Stopover in London

Between Florida and Bangkok

November 24-28, 2003

Monday, November 24, 2003

Being in America for the last two months made me forget how much of the rest of the world thinks America is going down the wrong 'tracks'.

PS to November 24th

Nice view from our room ... yes, London!

PPS: Comfy bed:

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A few days over two hundred and twenty years ago the first manned flight took place; this piece is from British Airways November, 2003 HIGH LIFE magazine ...

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

The first aerial journey took place over Paris in a hot-air balloon on 21 November 1783. The pilot, Pilatre de Rozier, was accompanied by the Marquis d'Arlandes. The marquis wrote about his experience in a letter to a friend:

"We set off at 54 minutes past one o'clock...I was astonished at the smallness of the noise and motion among the spectators. I thought they might be astonished and frightened, so I waved my arm, with small success. I then drew out and shook my handkerchief, and immediately perceived a great movement in the yard.

At this time Monsieur Pilatre said "You are doing nothing, and we are not climbing."

"Pardon me," I replied. I threw a truss of straw upon the fire, stirring a little at the same time, and then quickly turned my face back again; but could no longer see La Muette. Astonished, I looked at the river. M Pilatre then said, "Behold, there is the river, and observe that we descend. Well then, my friend, let us increase the fire", and we worked away...

I started the fire, and took a truss of straw with the fork, which, no doubt from being too tight, did not take fire very easily... The next moment I felt as if I were lifted up by my armpits, and said to my dear companion: "How we climb". At the same time, I heard a noise from the top of the machine, as if it were going to burst; and I looked, but did not see anything...

"Work on," said M Pilatre, "work on." I then heard another noise in the machine, which appeared to be the sound of rope breaking... I saw that part of the machine that was turned towards the south was full of round holes, many of which were of a considerable size.

I said, "We must descend", and at the same time I took the sponge and easily extinguished the fire which was around some holes that I could reach, but on leaning on the lower part of the linen, to observe whether it adhered firmly to the surrounding circle, I found that the linen was easily separated from it, on which I repeated that it was necessary to descend.

My companion said, "[But] we are over Paris"..."Never mind that", I said, "but look if there appears any danger for you on your side - are you safe?" He said, "Yes"...I wetted all the cords that were within my reach with the sponge. They all stayed intact, except two, which gave way. I then said, "We may pass over Paris." In doing this, we came close to the tops of the houses; we increased the fire, and rose with the greatest of ease...

On rising, a current of air changed our direction and took us toward the South. I saw on my left a sort of forest, which I took to be the Luxembourg [Gardens]; we passed over the Boulevard, and I said, "Let us now descend."

The fire was nearly extinguished; but the intrepid M Pilatre, who never loses his presence of mind, and who went forward imagining that we would hit the mills between Petite Gentilly and the Boulevard admonished me. I threw a bundle of straw on the fire, and shaking it to make it blaze more easily, we rose, and a new current carried us a little toward the left.

[M Pilatre] said again, "Watch out for the mills." But as I was looking out of the opening, I could observe more accurately that we could not hit them, and said, "We are there..." The moment we touched the ground I raised myself up in the gallery [basket], and perceived the upper part of the machine to press very gently on my head. I pushed it back, and jumped out of the gallery...

PS: This is a copy of Plant's Patent; Watcharee found it in an Oxford Street shop near Selfridges ... London.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Perils of travel ... a report from the BBC.

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NB: This 'travel tip' came via a leak from Andy Page ... a BACKROOMTM 'regular'.

PS: Spousal vengeance at work? Or was it just catty competition?

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Hey! But, could the shards of our very own Mellisa also be somewhere in this soggy mess on the floor? Though four years is a terribly long time in the life of a 'phone kiosk girl'.

Surely you remember Mellisa ... September of '99!

Thursday, November 27, 2003

In 1977 the ICCA (International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts) held a cork-pulling/wine-tasting/dinner here ... at the Bottlescrue Pub on Holborn Viaduct. How many of you remember it? Maybe it was a year or few later ('80 or '81 ... please correct me ... Mavis will know the year, for sure) ... anyway, the young girl who, today, was operating the cork pulling machine had no idea about what I was reminiscing. But, why should she!

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PS: It was a beautiful day in London.

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Friday, November 28, 2003

Leaving London for Bangkok ...

Next: Back in Bangkok

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