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Poe's North American Tour '99

Episode 7: Midday in the Traffic Jam of Good and Evil

We had no firm plans as to where to go next. We had no firm date as to when to leave Charleston - and believe me, we didn't want to leave. We had a vague idea of heading down to Florida, home of many a Cosmonaut and former home to Tracy. We had standing invitations from a bunch of players in a bunch of states. In the end circumstances suggested that we go to Savannah, GA. So off we went.

Diane028 makes her home not far from Savannah, as do WildWoman28 and Phu2 - we'd enjoyed Diane's company in Boone and accepted her kind invitation to show us round.

I'd also read John Berendt's non-fiction book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil way back, at Dreamsea's suggestion, and I couldn't put it down. I remember catching a 6 am train to Newcastle upon Tyne to stay with a friend for a few days - I'd slept a mere hour the night before, but read Midnight from start to finish (interspersed between organised stuff in Newcastle) before I finally collapsed into sleep around 4 pm. I caught some of the film in a hotel partway round the States, and it seemed to me to be about as bad as the book is excellent.

The story, such as it is, follows a vibrant collection of characters living their eccentric Savannah lifestyles (not too dissimilar from a vibrant collection of characters living their eccentric Cosmo lifestyles). After reading the book, I knew Savannah was somewhere I wanted to see. As it turned out we didn't see too much of the locations from the book, but we saw plenty of other places.

We arrived en masse from Charleston - Tracy and I in the purple pickup, followed by Kelly and Nubs (who hadn't made it to Boone but had heard so much about Diane that she just had to see for herself). Once again we followed our lost/found/lost/found pattern, unfortunately upsetting one lady in the process by turning round in her long driveway. Unbeknownst to us, her husband had just passed away, and she wasn't in a particularly clear frame of mind. But we got there and within minutes, the ladies were misbehaving.

There are a few things I remember vividly from our first day there. The first was the beautiful wild kittens, a whole troop of them who had somehow found their way to the back of Diane's house. I very very much wanted to take them home but I think British quarantine officials would have had something to say about that, even if I'd have worked out a way to cart them round two countries for two months anyway.

The second was Diane on the phone. Travelling around for three months, I was inevitably going to collide head on with some national holiday or other, and reaching Savannah coincided with the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. That meant the hotels were full to overflowing, and we'd have a better chance squaring up against Chillin411 on geo than finding a room in Savannah. But Diane tried anyway, cigarette in one hand, phone in the other. She'd get through three hotels a minute, her ascerbic comments and sarcastic asides shredding receptionists for miles around. And somehow she found one. Yay!

At least that's what we said until we saw it... hmm. I'm not sure if anyone had died on the premises by dubious method over the previous 24 hours, but somehow I don't think they'd have been advertising it. But we survived, and it turned out to be a much nicer place than it looked.

We met up with WildWoman28 and with Phu who certainly looks older than the only pic we'd previously seen (age roughly six). Diane took us out to Fort Pulaski, an old civil war fort across a Texan-sized bridge. I guess even back then, America's multicultural meltingpot mix was showing, as name after name continued to be obviously non-American. And we hit the beach too, only briefly but for long enough for me to capture a photo of Diane delightfully failing to be serious.

And we carried on eating well and sampling local delights. I tried the traditional Georgian gourmet dish of moonpie with RC Cola, as well as less snobbish fare like devilled crab. But the real local culinary custom is to dip your bread in cane syrup. This isn't anything like maple syrup, it's made from sugar cane and is very sickly and sweet. I persevered and am glad I tried it, but can honestly say it has to be the only food I really wouldn't try again. Sorry, Diane... but the rest of dinner was wonderful : )

Savannah was fun, certainly a lot more fun than the major hassle we drove into further north, driving up the main highway north at the end of Memorial weekend. We'd met up again with Eden and Twinz (see episode five) and were trying to get in touch with Brian in Virginia. Only because it took us so long to get through the incredible traffic jam did we manage to get in touch before we'd got too far. But we stuck it out - mad dogs and Englishmen and so on...

I know a lot of Cosmo players have often asked me how he's doing and some of you have kept a close interest in his condition. Brian is doing wonderfully, even though by doctors' expectations he shouldn't really be here at all. The horrific debt that they've racked up through surgery and physical therapy costs is something that I really don't understand as an Englishman. Our health care is financed through taxation and nobody gets such a tremendous financial burden, especially those who need the help but don't have the money to pay it. Brian's debt is now much reduced but they still owe over $70,000 in doctor's payments. Anyone who can help, please click here. I am at least very glad to see (first hand) that Canada also has free healthcare.

We met up only briefly with Brian and his mother Tracey in Hillsville, VA, but I'm very glad we finally got to meet.

And thence to Detroit... and a little rest.

Previous Episode: Southern Hospitality.
Next Episode: Within Four Miles of a Lake.


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