By special request, for one night only, The Roquefort Files rides again.

So that I don’t mess up the chronology of the whole blog, let me take you back to the Christmas of 2011. It was almost exactly twelve months since Leigh and I had met at the end of 2010, and it was still half a year until we would duck into the insalubrious dining room of Edinburgh’s Kebab Mahal for a pre-Fringe bite to eat and emerge a) sated and b) engaged to be married..

So, then, to Christmas December 2011! Please superimpose a Wayne-and-Garth–style, wiggly-lines-VFX on your mind’s eye.

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Leigh had been at home with her parents for a couple of weeks, and I had been invited to Wisconsin to join them for Christmas. It was a pleasant stay, if uneventful in the extreme (rural Wisconsin is a mutely static kind of place), but the trip to get there has lodged in my mind ever since for a variety of mostly unrelated reasons. To wit:

  1. Edinburgh to Minneapolis is a thirty-hour trip, and my particular experience of it took place almost entirely in the dark. It is interminable.
  2. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has an art gallery, I learned, and not just some yuppie fly-paper excuse for one either. A branch of the Rijksmuseum lives in a boxy golden room-within-a-room suspended inside Terminal F, hovering in the interior airspace like a prop repurposed from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I dutifully took in the Dutch masters hung therein, but the space itself was far more interesting: like the Buck Rogers fantasy of the Queensland Cultural Centre on the Brisbane River’s south bank, it was a glimpse into an hoped-for modernist future that we gave up on some time around 1985.
  3. Three years after the event, the metal in my arm finally set off an airport security device, in this case a hands-in-the-air millimetre wave scanner at Delta’s pre-gate checkpoint. For a moment I was Derek Smalls, a bassist trapped in a transparent plastic coffin.
  4. The de-icer trucks that crept up to the plane on the twilit tarmac and unfolded their spindly metal gantries over our wings were like hazard-yellow insects.
  5. Somewhere up over Greenland, I cracked open my window blind as the plane skimmed the edge of the terminator. I watched the day come and go over the horizon. Later, ready to sleep, I shook out my Delta-branded blanket in front of me. It crackled with tiny flashes of static like the top of a thunder cloud.