Funny old Florida
I have a vision of Florida, and it’s kind of stuck in the 80s, maybe around the peak of Miami Vice time, which is when I took a holiday there with my family. Beaches, sunshine, thongs, tanned bum cheeks (owing to thong usage) and bling.
In reality, I didn’t really want it to have changed much, because that meant it would be amusing, ripe for people watching and hot during our stay.
It was two of the three.
It wasn’t hot – at least not for the two days we were there. Enter Hurricane Sandy……
First, however, let me tell you about lovely Darlene at the check-in for Florida, who ‘ooed’ and ‘ahhed’ at our UK passports (are USA ones really so different? I guess so). Darlene’s sister lives in Leeds, she tells us. Oh how lovely we say, pretending Leeds is lovely, which it might be (I haven’t been there and I am sure bits of Leeds are, but in my head I feel sad for Darlene’s sister that of all places she lives in Leeds in the UK).
I’ve been there to visit and she has got an English accent now, Darlene laughs. We laugh (too hard) as Darlene adopts a mock English accent; it’s not very good, but a valiant attempt.
Where else have you been?
Birmingham and Slough.
It is very hard to fake enthusiasm for Birmingham or Slough, believe me. My heart goes out to Darlene that of all the great and glorious UK, she witnessed Leeds, Birmingham and Slough. It’s the Slough bit that really gets me. Visiting Slough is like the icing on a cake of awful, grey, tasteless mundaneness. There isn’t even a tourism bit of Slough because it does not exist. She must have looked at uninhabited tower blocks, rubbish shopping centres and some desperate chunks of suburbia. Now I’m getting depressed, so back to sunny Florida. Or not….
As we enter Fort Lauderdale airport, I am delighted by the presence of loud, tacky, glorious Florida bling. Leopard print leggings, massive hoop earrings, gold lame bags, lots of make up etc etc. Hoorah! Bling! It still exists! I am very happy and try not to stare.
My other half was getting a bit obsessed with the weather on the TV screen at the boarding gate. The plane was delayed because Hurricane Sandy decided to have a moment in Fort Lauderdale. I, however, was not convinced she / he (what gender are hurricanes?) would stay around. I was wrong not to be convinced. (NOTE: ADMISSION OF BEING WRONG FOR THE RECORD.)
Hurricane Sandy was lashing down as we arrived in sunny (not sunny now) Florida. And so our first evening was spent watching the waves tumbling dramatically at the shore line, the rain lashing at the windows and a mega wind tearing through the palm trees.
It will pass, I said with hope and optimism.
It did not pass for quite a while.
There was a war like mentality in the hotel as everyone congregated, talked about the hurricane (Americans are also addicted to the weather) and drank – a lot (it’s a good excuse, I heard many a time). I mentioned this ‘war-like mentality’ of everyone huddling together to a man at the bar. He laughed, and said to me he remembered it well. He was about 50-60, so I was a bit confused. Then after a while I realised he probably meant the Vietnam War and I desperately wanted to find him again and ask him all about the Vietnam War, which (without wishing to sound crass) is my favourite war, because I love the soundtrack – see Forrest Gump, Apocalypse Now, Good Morning Vietnam – I even wrote a novel about it when I was 11. Anyway, I digress. I could not find this man who could fill me in with historical treasures, so I had a mojito instead and joined the throngs still sheltering from the (now horizontal) rain.
I spotted a major face-lift and would have taken a photo if it has not appeared too intrusive.
The thing I want to know about face-lifts is this – do you think you look better? Because it just looks like you have had a face-lift. And it looks weird.
So the next day, the sky cleared a bit and we took to the beach and went for a pleasurable people-watching stroll.
The thing that struck me most was that it was 2pm on a Friday when we encountered a rock and roll bar on the main drag, which had music thumping out of it (the band was live, tattooed and very heavy) and pouring out of the bar were not young things whooping it up, but a whole bunch of 50-60 year olds, properly rocking out in their denim and their boots, with jugs of beer and fagging it up on the sidewalk, and they were having a great time. It was totally unthreatening, and I was just impressed with their ability to be having a bloody good time in denim at their age.
These t-shirts say all there is to say about Florida.
Florida made me giddy, even without the sun. It rocked. I’m going back!
Groupon USA style
So, you know how Groupon works in the UK – deals for such things as: tea for two in a Cotswolds cafe; carpet cleaning discount; manicure spa day etc etc. Lovely things for lovely people to do on a lovely afternoon off.
This is Groupon USA style:
GROUPON CONCEALED HANDGUN CLASS
Four-Hour, Multi-State Concealed-Handgun Class for One or Two (Half Off)
In a Nutshell
Classroom training qualifies students to apply for a Virginia and nonresident Utah concealed-weapon permit, valid in more than 35 states
Choose Between Two Options
- $95 for a four-hour concealed-handgun class for one (a $190 value)
- $189 for a four-hour concealed-handgun class for two (a $380 value)
During the multi-state concealed-firearms course, state- and NRA-certified instructors cover the basics of state concealment laws, plus firearm fundamentals such as proper storage and transport, the principles of sound marksmanship, and how to react during a potential confrontation. The course has no live-fire component or test, and upon completion, students are qualified to apply for Virginia and nonresident Utah concealed-weapon permits, the latter of which is valid in more than 30 states. Tuition does not cover any additional costs associated with applying for either permit. Participants only need to bring a valid driver’s license or other state or government-issued ID. Classes are scheduled on select weeknights and weekends, and are typically held in hotel conference rooms.
MMTA Firearms Training Academy
State- and NRA-certified instructors train students any time, any place. Well, most times and places. Through mobile and onsite training, instructors meet marksmen for both classes and private lessons at locales such as nearby ranges, hotel conference rooms, or the drawbridge of the county castle. At these gatherings, instructors lead courses such as the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation and the multi-state concealed-firearms course, which are supplemented with online CCW travel guides.