Thursday, 19 March 2009

Crass Vegas

Landing in Vegas late afternoon, we file past slot machines on the way to the baggage carousel and it becomes clear to me that this town is nuts. The signs on the escalators which tell you that shoes must be worn - how would you come to be on an escalator in an airport in bare feet? Maybe your luck is down and you've already lost your footwear to a one armed bandit. We approached the baggage reclaim area where I half expected shouts of "no more bets" as my suitcase spun around on a big wheel, eventually coming to rest, and then finding that an old lady from Florida had put everything on number 17 and, as a result, won my socks and underpants.

On the shuttle bus, Jus sits next to an old(ish) couple, who keep saying "whehyallfram" to her. She eventually manages to slow this down into "Where are you (all) from?" and is able to reply, "We are from England my good fellow, seat of the British Empire. As representatives of Her Majesty we are travelling around the globe to inspect The Colonies". At least in my head that's what she said (I think I've gone bonkers already). The old(ish) couple are dropped off at their hotel/casino - Hooters! (which, whatever the logo may suggest, is not just about owls).

I don't notice much about Hooters, in spite of my love of owls, because I'm sat up a the front next to the driver, listening to commercial radio. And it's been over 10 minutes since the last "non-commercial" bit (Celine Dion singing about icebergs or something). Since then they've been trying to persuade me that I need no longer be ashamed of my smile (ashamed is a bit strong, though I do look like a leering fool in photographs) since Dr Buck Loaded's painless treatment can straighten my teeth and give me the smile I want in only six months. I'm then told not to pay online prices for my pill requirements, the names of the particular pills being constantly repeated - lest I forget (the little blue ones which rhyme with 'Niagra'). This is like spam, except it's on the radio. And it just goes on and on. I become desperate for some more Celine or Shania - if it came to it, I'd even welcome the sound of Chris Moyles' voice!

After a few more stops we arrive at our hotel, Treasure Island, and join the 20 minute queue of fellow joy-seekers to check in - I know we love queuing in our country but this felt less like "Welcome to Las Vegas, the capital city of fun" and a lot more like "Cashier number three please".

On our way to the lift (sorry, ELEVATOR) we are given a glimpse of what Vegas has to offer - wall to wall slot machines, gambling tables, the smell of fags (Nevada is smoke free but it seems that casinos themselves are exempt) and waitresses in dresses which are, without exception, slightly shorter than the length that would suit the lady wearing them. Whether that lady is 18 or 62, the dress she is provided is just wrong enought to make her look unattractive (or maybe I just haven't adjusted to Vegas). After gathering our chins from the floor at the shock of it all we head to our room. Everything seems to be in order and we are relieved to find no slot machines hidden in the wardrobe or en-suite.

We leave our hotel in search of food and, just a little further along "The Strip", take an escalator up to a burger joint on the first floor of a casino. 10 minutes later, having immediately dismissed the burger joint for not being classy enough, we find that we are still in the casino, desparately searching for a way out. There is no "down" escalator and we can't find the stairs, or a door, or even a window to leap out of! We do escape eventually but we're still not quite sure how. After some further wandering around a Trafford Centre-esque shopping mall we eventually play it safe and eat at Planet Hollywood.

Having eaten, we head into Caeser's Palace in an attempt to find the real Vegas. We visit the Elton John Shoppe, complete with Elton John espresso cups and items from his signature range of upmarket accessories called "Bitch". Then we find the Cher shop where you can buy quality Cher merchandise including Cher dolls (remember, the price of Chers can go up as well as down).

Then we pass the Pussycat Dolls bar/casino complete with scantily dressed dealers and pole dancers. The air in here seems to be 40% cigarette smoke and 60% peach air-freshener that I presume is designed to mask the cigarette smoke - the air is so thick you can taste it, and it doesn't taste good.

Outside, people are wandering up and down the pavement enjoying margaritas in huge pink plastic vases, or chugging Budweiser from comedy plastic skull pint pots. As I remember it, in my country, if you open a can of Ginger Beer in the street then police helicopters will be tracking your movements within minutes. Meanwhile, a billboard attached to a trailer is being driven up and down the road. Splashed all over it is a huge picture of some "lovelies" with the caption "Girls direct to your door - phone 696 9696". Man, this place is classy!

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