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Londinium or bust

What does the “or bust” construction mean, exactly? “If I do not reach my intended destination, I will physically explode in some way”? I don’t know. I’ve never known. Forget I said it.

I had hoped work would be a leisurely stretch before my holiday, but some stupid piece of shit job blew up in my face this morning and I chased it the rest of the day. Oh, well. A quick note before I retire, then.

Most Boston-to-London flights are overnighters, arriving right in the teeth of the London morning commute. That sort of flight is easier to catch on the Boston end, but hell on the London end. I don’t sleep well on planes; I showed up punchy and fizzy and spent the whole first day hoping that more than usually tactless things don’t come out of my mouth. Tactlessness is, as you might imagine, a problem for me.

Finally, we found a flight that leaves in the morning and arrives at Heathrow around nine at night. Perfect — just enough time to drive home, settle in, drink a bottle of fizz, eat a meal (toad in the hole. My favorite!) and fall into a deep, weaselicious dream.

But the Boston end? Not so nice.

Still, I prefer to front-load my pain. Who was it said that drunkenness would be moral if you could endure the hangover first? It wasn’t me, but I fundamentally agree: payment first. Then pleasure.

My flight leaves at nine. Not bad. But I have to get a bus to the airport, per their schedule. And I have to get a cab to the bus. And the cab company won’t let me pre-book because it’s a short trip, but they won’t guarantee me a cab because I don’t pre-book. (Yes, I have friends. I wouldn’t dream of waking them in the wee hours to drive me, which is partly why they’re still my friends. Despite that whole tactlessness thing).

So here’s how it goes down: alarm goes off at three in the morning. I get dressed, pack my toothbrush and call a cab for 4:30. The cats begin acting especially cute but very sad, the knowing little bastards, so me and my luggage move out onto the lawn to wait. The cab is late. It is always late. They didn’t take my number, so there’s no way I can know if the cabby is lost and I’m screwed. This is — this ALWAYS is — the low point of the day. I treat myself to a dram of stomach acid. And possibly half a milligram of Xanax.

The cab arrives and drives the short hop to the bus station. (A cab ride all the way in to Logan would add several hundred bucks to the round trip. I could do it, but it would hurt). The bus station is dark. There’s usually a moon. And a pair of young lovers, or a very old lady, or scruffy college students, or all of these things waiting for the Logan bus. It feels poetical. I miss my stupid cats.

The bus ride into Boston is dark but sparkly. I feel like That Girl. I take a lot of artsy, blurry photos out the window. The line at the ticket counter…well, this isn’t Christmas, so maybe not so bad this time. I’m starting to enjoy myself, but I miss my stupid cats.

I saunter around the Gate 33 area. Have a nasty cup of Starbucks airport blend. Borrow a cup of electricity from Massport to charge up all my shit, if I can find an empty outlet. Start to get excited. Miss stupid cats.

The flight East is magic: you fly into the planet’s rotation. The flight is six hours, but the clock says twelve. So the whole day is compressed into cartoon time. They feed us a lot; keeps us quiet. So we go from the rosy fingers of dawn to the scarlet imprint of twilight in less time than it takes to work the morning shift.

Get me! I’m a jet setter!

Miss my stupid cats already.

This is going to be great!


Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 14, 2007, 8:49 pm

As I understand it, X or Bust means “we’re going to get there or break down, there’s no turning back and no being diverted to a side road. The only two options are reaching our goal or mechanical failure.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: May 14, 2007, 8:57 pm

“…or bust” means “or collapse from the effort” – or – “or die trying”.

But you knew that. I couldn’t find a history of the expression. Couldn’t find squat.

Have fun in Jolly Ol’. I hooked up a 50 Hz AC generator to my PC and monitor so I could watch your posts from England, ’cause I know the power is different over there. I ran the exhaust out thru my bathroom fart fan. That should work, I think.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 15, 2007, 3:01 am

Greetings from four in the morning!


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 15, 2007, 3:02 am

Hey, my timestamp is off by an hour. What is that…mountain time? Yeah, right, Nova Scotia time…

Comment from Leeuwenhoek
Time: May 15, 2007, 5:38 am

Ah, travel, from the word “travail”. I love it though, makes you realize theres a whole lot of different ways to exist in the world. Different cultures, values and customs.
I always said travel could cure racism and prejudice. Judgmental people all have one thing in common, they all live in small little worlds. Its a big world, with lots of ways to live and be. Very nice travel log, I love first person journal type writing, and at the risk of repeating myself , you write well. While you are in London, I have a tip for you. Go to the record shops. They have records/CD’s that are not released in the states from artists from Jimi Hendrix to John Coltrain. I found several Eric Clapton albums unreleased in the States. See, these guys Coltrain and Hendrix had to go to England to make it, because we just didn’t get it here. Have fun Weasel, may the wind be at your back.

Comment from Dawn
Time: May 15, 2007, 12:30 pm

McGoo, look up “Pikes Peak or bust”. Something about a gold rush and covered wagons and 1850.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: May 15, 2007, 1:58 pm

Ok Dawn – so they used it during the Pike’s Peak faux gold rush. That doesn’t tell me any more about the origin of the phrase – unless I missed sumpin (quite possible) in the PP article. Was this when it was first used?

Or – did they use it in the ’49 gold rush (California or bust?). Or in the colonist days (Jamestown or bust?) When was the phrase originated or first used? – that’s what I kinda want to know without going to a lot of effort or reading a bunch of no-doubt interesting histories.

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