“I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around,
Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson,
Look out Jackson town.”
– Johnny Cash
After the small-town charms of Clarksdale we ate up the highway and headed for the Mississippi State capital, Jackson, named after Andrew Jackson, the 7th. President of the United States. Now, the weather conspired to keep us indoors for most of our visit there, it certainly wasn’t , in the words of Mr. Cash, ‘hotter than a pepper sprout” – more like ‘colder than a penguin’s balls” but I guess that wouldn’t have worked in the song.
We managed to get a night out at Finians Irish bar, where we saw a great band called Mike and Marty. They were a four piece, so I presume there were two of each, or two of them were on the run from the law and preferred to remain nameless. That aside, they served up a very pleasurable mix of country rock, which kept us entertained while we consumed a lot of wings and nachos.
The next day was beyond Arctic, and basically we stayed in the motel. The following day, lured by the promise of blue skies, we went for a walk. Of course, in America the car is king, and so they don’t build sidewalks to discourage healthy activities like walking. Unless you are in the city centre, walking leaves you at the mercy of every Chevy truck and low rider Cadillac on the highway. I can see why the drive-by shooting became popular. It is to cull idiots like us who decide to venture out in sub-zero temperatures in an effort to walk off the effects of American size portions of food, and keep the verges clean.
Our goal was the nearest Starbucks, where we hoped to find a commemorative Jackson mug. When we arrived, not only was there an enormous queue for their exorbitantly-priced coffee, but we discovered Jackson didn’t merit a commemorative mug. Gutted we eased back out into the inclement weather. When I say ‘inclement’, I mean incapable of sustaining human life.
We got about 50 yards before deciding that we needed sustenance to be capable of making the journey back. Luckily, we happened into Bon Ami, a French-themed cafe-restaurant decorated with art, where we were served coffee by a friendly lady called Jackie, who told us she would be down in New Orleans the following week, so we may see her when we get there. Heartened by our welcome and the copious amounts of coffee, we bravely fought the elements and once again retreated into the cocoon of our motel.
The following day, the blue skies weren’t completely lying, and the temperature reluctantly raised itself a degree or two, and coaxed us out into downtown Jackson so we could have a look around. There were a couple of buildings that actually looked a little bit old, but to be honest, our tongues were hanging out for even the most mundane piece of decorative scrollwork after encountering so many towering glass behemoths, so common to American skylines. Now I know why American tourists scrape their jaws along the pavement when they visit places like Stratford-upon-Avon, or Chartres cathedral.
Their State capitol building was reminiscent of St.Paul’s Cathedral, however, and that had obviously inspired someone to randomly plonk a bright red British telephone box on the sidewalk of the street in front of it. There was no phone in it, and you couldn’t open it. It was just…….there. I tried to imagine the reaction to the installation of a dormant American fire hydrant in Hyde park………
We saw one of the 53 copies of the original Liberty Bell, displayed in front of the State Capitol building, and in a curious coincidence, later that evening, I solved the clue in the movie National Treasure, because I had seen the names “Pass and Stow” engraved on the side of it. Funny old world. The reason we were yet again locked in our motel was an aborted attempt to find a music venue on the south side of the city. After an hour of driving round fruitlessly, we gave up, came back and stuck the telly on. It’s not all fun and games, this holiday lark, you know.