11st 7 (hideous fat on lower wall of abdominal section after eating way too many hamburgers) cigarettes 10 (have run out of duty free Benson and Hedges) alcohol units 0 (no booze for almost 4 years but tempted by $10 bottles of Old Grand-Dad bourbon and $12.99 cases of Stella Artois in the local liquor store).
Holy moly, I have been in Atlanta for two years! I used to go bonkers in the USA after one month, at least I used to in the old days when I visited the place as a lonesome traveler. 24 months? I must be stark raving mad by now. What makes an Englishman go mad in America? The lack of good tea for one thing. The absence of Dundee cake (Winston Churchill's favorite) is another. But the local supermarket has vanilla flavored coconut milk. And grotty old Nisa (now Tesco) on Notting Hill Gate never ever stocked anything as glamorous as vanilla flavored coconut milk.
Hotlanta: Reese Witherspoon in da Hood!
I am bloody lucky to be living in sepia tinged Virginia Highlands. The place has all the texture and substance of the neighborhood in the David Lynch film Blue Velvet, the hidden danger of Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives, and the social dysfunctionality of Desperate Housewives (minus the exceedingly hot women). However, life round here does sometimes resemble life back home in Notting Hill. We did have a thespian hottie over the road from my house, actress Reese Witherspoon, making a film in Atlanta, "the Hollywood of the South" (films generate $4 billion a year in revenue for the State of Georgia, you see). I did manage to catch sight of Miss Witherspoon lap dog followed by two trashy blonde women (make up and stylist). Somehow or other, word got out about Miss Witherspoon (probably on a celeb gossip website) and many normal looking people would stop and gawp at the house with acolyte eyes (such a thing would never happen in Notting Hill).
So, two years into life in Atlanta and what have I learned so far? Not much. I have been cooped up in the house writing. Or cooling off down at the gym. But I do have enough fodder to write about some of the local amenities in my hood. Being English, having a local pub to go to is a big deal and my boozer is Moe's and Joe's. Established in 1947, it is one of the oldest bars in the city. There is an English pub down the road, The Hand in Hand, and they do $5 fish and chips on a Friday night, but Moe's and Joe's is my rubadub of choice and for more reasons than the beer. The bar, with its long, black, Formica, crackling, aged neon beer lights, graffiti strewn walls and dilapidated toilets, reeks of historic boozing. And unlike pubs back home (I am excluding fancy gastro pubs) the food at Moe's and Joe's is top notch. In London, a place like this would be expensive and contrived like Lucky 7 in Notting Hill. But here, in Atlanta, it is unselfconscious and atypically American.
Paolo Dalla Zorza: Creepy Ice Cream Foreign Bloke