May 4, 2006

LUTON, England – No matter where you've been, however "developing" the nation, London's Luton is a step down the food chain. The airport is almost a banana republic in its own right: lousy food, closed toilets, grimy surfaces, crap transport and corrupt, inefficient officials.

Maybe we can pasture Dubya there, once he's conclusively ruined the American economy. Luton might be the one place he couldn't make worse.

OK, I'll admit I have the homeward-bound blues. And my mood is not improved by a night's layover ... not to mention the two-hour queue at passport control and the Greenline coach clerk that menaced me, because her colleague botched our tickets.

Yes, ma'am, I realize you can shout louder than me.

No, I'm not a crook because I've asked you to double-check the till.

Or a security threat. Huh? Calm, woman!

Eventually she simmers down and fixes the mistake: cringing, groveling and apologizing. I walk away, unable to face the spin-cycle of psychosis.

Then the luggage cart catches on the curb.

I howl. Really howl with rage. Reserved Brits scatter like candlestick bowling pins.

"Kid, six weeks on the road is a long trip," Edward says. "You need to regroup in Seattle, to be home with those cats."

I know. I know.

And in about 40 hours, I'll finally be there.

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