Friday 10th of June – New Orleans

Our hope that people would stop being so damn graspy once we got away from New York was starting to look like wishful bloody thinking. Befuddled from the Amtrak experience we only gave our breakfast waitress a 12% tip instead of 15% so she came back and complained. I mumbled an apology and gave her an extra buck – we were then expected to tip the band who struck up halfway through our eggs, bacon, grits and biscuits. We didn’t ask them to start bothering us with elevator jazz while we were eating, damn it.

We later bought a small bottle of water from a shop and the girl at the check-out muttered something which turned out to be $2.50 when we inspected our change. We vowed to demand how much everything costs before we buy it in future until we leave the country, including asking “is that everything” what with taxes, gratuities, hobbit fees and whatever else they tag on. “

Americans are stoopid, lazy and,” holding up the ten bucks I’d just given him, “greedy”, said Taighe in the Voodoo Bar on Rampart St. Possibly a sweeping and unfair opinion given the size and diversity of the population, we thought, but as guests in this country it would be rude to argue. Taighe had lost his two front/lower teeth to a recent mugging but was chatty, charming, possibly erring on the side of “fabulous”, with sideburns like Junior Wolverine and a Southern accent so strong that “stoopid” actually needs about 8 Os in it to be spelt right. We were also off the tourist beat which is ill-advised but most of the famous Bourbon Street is best avoided. We ate and drank away from it; The Corner Bar provided enough gumbo and jambalaya to wedge that bloody song by The Carpenters in my head for the rest of our stay despite every bar blasting jazz at us. After a bottle in Molly’s at the Market (picture below) we went to Johnny White’s on Bourbon where the music was brilliant.

Molly's at The Market

We wandered, beer in hand, through masses of whoopin’ and hollerin’ folks with beads round their necks, back down Bourbon to our hotel. Flashing lights, banging music and carnival smells, every bar has a “barker” outside urging you to join the ghastly party inside. Special mention for the guy who said nothing but just held up a sign with “Tits & Whisky” on it.

I don’t want to give the impression that all of New Orleans is like Blackpool on crack because it isn’t, it was great and well worth the trip. It is mysterious and charismatic, so many of the buildings loom with shadowed verandas like you imagine they should (especially if you have read the early Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice before she got super precious and they became unreadable).

Everybody was friendly and we would go back in a heartbeat, especially now we know which bits to avoid. But as we left the next day the guy in front of us paid a $5 tip to the man who hails the cabs for the hotel guests. $5 for blowing a bloody whistle? I don’t bloody think so. Wrong Song – can’t be doing with that rag-time jazz but no one made me go to New Orleans

Right Song at the Right Moment – walking into Johnny White’s they were playing “Lazy Eye” by the Silversun Pickups, so blessed relief from the above. Saturday 11th of June. Train to Memphis. Right Song: – Seasick Steve, “St Louis Slim” – “last I heard he was going down to Memphis” (I-pod shuffle)

Wrong Song: “An Evening in Roma” – Dean Martin. Perfect for an evening in Roma, a bit off for an afternoon train through a swamp. (I-pod shuffle)

Train Ride Through the Swamp

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