Well! I have a day off. Where did that week go? It seems extraordinary that a week ago I was flying in from England and now I’ve got 3 venues in 2 states under my belt and the 2013 tour is gathering momentum.

Breakfast at The Inn at Christmas Place is as fun as yesterday with lots of conversations with audience members. Sadly, though, my stage has been packed away and the breakfast room is a theatre no longer. I will move on to new venues and the hotel will have new guests and other events. Our orbits have touched for 2 brief days and now we both go spinning off until we meet again next year.

I do have a few housekeeping affairs to look after today but essentially it is a free and relaxing day. The first job is to sign Kristy’s books and I gently work through them for half an hour or so. I manage to finish that task just as a phone call comes in from a journalist in Chicago. He is working on a story about Charles Dickens’s brother, Augustus Dickens who lived and died in Chicago. Augustus, as a child, had the nickname that Charles would eventually take as a pen name: Boz. Augustus was known in the family as Moses (after a character in Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’), being a child he had trouble pronouncing Moses and, with the help of a sinus problem, the name came out as Boz and the rest of the family, Charles included, made gentle fun of him. There. That’s where Boz comes from. What a hugely educational blog this is!

Following that call it is time to do the next load of laundry but unfortunately the drier is out of order, and there’s no point in carting a load of soaking wet clothes around the country, so I will think again on that plan.

Another 2 interviews, these both for radio stations about my events immediately after Thanksgiving, back in Massachusetts, and I’ve done my chores.

I spend a little time in the room, playing some online backgammon and packing the cases for my next leg before checking out of the hotel at lunchtime.

Having admired King Kong in the rooftops as I drove into Pigeon Forge, I decide to pay a visit to the Hollywood Wax Work exhibition and spend a silly 40 minutes trying to work out who on earth some of these models are supposed to be! Mrs Jarley, from The Old Curiosity Shop comes to mind:
‘I never saw any wax-work, ma’am,’ said Nell. ‘Is it funnier than Punch?’
‘Funnier!’ said Mrs Jarley in a shrill voice. ‘It is not funny at all.’

‘Oh!’ said Nell, with all possible humility.

‘It isn’t funny at all,’ repeated Mrs Jarley. ‘It’s calm and — what’s that word again — critical? — no — classical, that’s it — it’s calm and classical. No low beatings and knockings about, no jokings and squeakings like your precious Punches, but always the same, with a constantly unchanging air of coldness and gentility; and so like life, that if wax-work only spoke and walked about, you’d hardly know the difference. I won’t go so far as to say, that, as it is, I’ve seen wax-work quite like life, but I’ve certainly seen some life that was exactly like wax-work.

When I emerge from the building there are snow flurries in the air and the weather has closed in obscuring the mountains.

I’m driving back to Knoxville airport and staying in a hotel there tonight, so that I can be ready for an early flight tomorrow but on the way I need to stop at Walmart to buy…..ah, here we have a moment where England and America are two nations divided by a common language. I am buying a set of braces. Now, the American readers will assume I’m undertaking a corrective dental plan. So, I will say I am buying some suspenders. Now, the English readers will assume I’m undertaking a period of cross-dressing. Oh dear.

The one item of clothing I failed to double up on for my dual costume plan was a set of braces/suspenders. The ones I am using were purchased at Walmart last year and have a very strong clasp on them so I was keen to get a second set. Sure enough the same make is available and my twin costumes are complete.

Back on the road to Knoxville and I love the various road signs and advertisements that we just wouldn’t see in England. Along the route old derelict barns have been used for advertising purposes. “See Rock City” daubed in white paint on a black background. No hint of where Rock City might be, how to get there, what it is, how to contact it. It is only later, online, that I discover it is 150 miles away in Georgia!

Other signs: ‘For Sale: Peacocks & Horses’; ‘DIVORCE $299 plus court costs’; on a Church: ‘Count Your Blessings. Re-counts allowed’ and many more.

No foot of advertising space is missed out, from the shiny corporate to the hand painted placards. Huge billboards with well groomed Personal Injury Attorneys smiling reassuringly down at the drivers. Signs for restaurant chains, banks, gas stations and all the rest of it. One long strip mall from Pigeon Forge to Knoxville but on the way using roads such as ‘Forks of the River Parkway’ giving a hint as to how life was before the great God Retail took over.

I arrive at the Candlewood Suites motel and discover that not only does it have a fully functioning guest laundry but it is complimentary: my joy is unbounded!

Having achieved a full case of clean clothes again I take one more telephone interview, this one for the Omaha event in a few days time and then head out to get a bite to eat at Applebee’s: as delicious steak and cheesecake.

Back at the hotel I iron costume shirts for tomorrow, pack up the cases, set an alarm for 5.45 (AM) and have an early night. Tomorrow it is off to the Mid West.