At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Many readers have left comments containing recommendations as to what to do on my Great American Journey, which reminds me of the poster campaign Time Out ran when they launched a New York edition. “Time Out: The Perfect Magazine For New Yorkers: it Tells You Where to Go and What to Do With Yourself”.
Will I visit Galena, Illinois or Hoglick, Iowa or Sweetwater Creek, Oregon or any of the other tempting destinations American readers have been recommending I be sure to stop off at? Well, all suggestions welcome naturally, but it is very difficult on such a cursory tour to be able to visit every village, burg, town, city and county no matter how appealing they sound. For those of you who are not aware, I have been in the US since the middle of October filming a documentary for the BBC in which I visit every State in the Union. The purpose, as I wrote earlier, is twofold, to see the continental United States and to experience American life at local level. One of the most charming and endearing features of America is the intensely passionate civic and statal (if only there were such a word) pride exhibited by so many of its citizens. Mainers are extraordinarily proud to be from Maine. The people of Delaware really want you to understand and appreciate the character and qualities of the Delawarian (‘slow and low’ it would appear). West Virginians will always take time to tell you how much they love their state and how much they want you to love it too. Clearly this is less true of those from New York City (the huge expanse of beautiful countryside that is New York State is another matter) for their city is as a whole other territory to itself.
So far these are the states I have visited and filmed in:- Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, (Washington DC), Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. Still to come on this southern leg are South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
I have sailed, hunted, gone down a coal mine, followed a Presidential candidate for the day, talked to a witch, got drunk at a distillery, fished for lobster, chatted to the founder of Wikipedia, dealt blackjack, listened to the Vice President of the United States make a speech, bumped my head in a nuclear submarine, created my own Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream flavour and driven a London taxi some three thousand miles around the turnpikes, parkways, interstates and freeways of the Eastern United States.
Some of you may be wondering why I don’t blog, post to the blog, make a blog, embloggulate or whatever damned word I’m supposed to use (there’s been a debate on these pages about how the verb ‘to blog’ should properly be used) on this very subject: My American Travels.
Well, here I must confess I’m in something of a bind. Much as I’d like to share all the details of my journey with you, I am, as I travel, making a programme for the BBC and I wouldn’t want to spoil any of its surprises: it would be unfair on the network, the production company, the director and crew if too much was known a year before broadcast. In addition, I’m writing a book about it all and the publishers would have fifty thousand fits if I didn’t give them my more or less undivided attention.
While I’m happy then, to give those of you interested the broad outlines of my peregrinations, I’m afraid I won’t be plunging much deeper than that. Do hope you understand. I will however tell you a story that does say something about a difference between American and British approaches to debate. See below.
Another question that has been asked a fair amount boils down to this: “Now that you’re writing a Guardian article and sending it to this site, does that mean you shan’t also be contributing those longer and more individual pieces that rejoice in the name blessay?” Well, no it doesn’t, as see below again.
I’m sorry about the long intervals of time between these blessays, but I really am so very, very busy with the trip, with the weekly Dork Talk articles, with writing up notes for the book, with sundry other duties to be done that … well, a fully fledged blessay isn’t something I can come up with week in and week out. The word ‘occasional’ is beating its wings overhead … for the moment at least. Mind you, just wait till I decide the time is right to tell you about the other documentary I’m doing for the BBC, one that takes me all round the world … but that can wait for the moment. Sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof.