America Day 13

I was 8 minutes late for our rendezvous, and arrived to find myself in the doghouse. We had booked a river cruise. It was a little over half an hour’s walk away. We had fifty minutes to get there. We made it in 25.

We virtually sprinted through the sunny streets of the windy city so we could sit in a stationary boat for ages. Then it moved and we got to hear facts. It’s hot in Chicago today. “We didn’t have much of a summer so this is great,” says the guide. And it is but I don’t have a hat.

I sat with the group on the prow of the boat with Claire’s cardigan wrapped round my head like I was some sort of shit pirate. We rolled down the river accompanied by our guide who literally didn’t stop talking for the next hour and a half.

I’ve conducted my fair share of river tours. I will never do another, but I understand the pressure to fill the gaps with noise. You forget that sometimes people like to just sit and enjoy looking at stuff. I started to feel bombarded with information. It was hot and it was relentless. The voice of our guide started grating on my nerves. It was like being at school with one of the less capable teachers. I wrote a note to Claire. “Help, I’m trapped on a boat with talking.” I wasn’t even hungover. I think if I had been I’d have been sick on our guide. I respected her for trying her best. But it’s an object lesson in performance. The amount of effort you make doesn’t automatically correlate to the amount of fun an audience has. I’ve seen actors working their socks off in order to bore me. I’ve seen actors barely lift a finger to mesmerise me. “Let them do the work,” said one of my tutors. Easy to say, not so easy to do. You stand up in front of people to work and – particularly if you enjoy the work – it doesn’t feel like work unless it’s hard so you deliberately make it difficult for yourself to justify it. Our guide had every second of the 90 minute tour filled with noise. With all the names of the architects, dates, styles, materials, histories, puns, politics, jokes, tales and references to the American football that didn’t quite feel owned.

Still a lovely tour. I found myself thinking about the Trump tower, the ultimate penis substitute – for why else is he sensitive about his hands? I’m wondering what it’ll be in 100 years time. I’d love to think it’d be social housing, with the name still there as a stark reminder of the cost of hubris.

Then we had pizza and I wandered off to the SGI Buddhist centre to catch a quick chant in company before we go jetting off all over the world, and to buy myself some beads and a travel gong. Now I’m in the queue for Kingston Mines. “Are you guys from London?” Here we go again. Plus it’s probably 6am uk time. Better click go

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Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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