Friday, January 13, 2012

Letters from London #1

Okay, here goes - while I'm still in this nostalgic mood for London, I'm going to share some of my Letters from London with you from time to time.  Blogs didn't really exist when I first moved there in 2000 and I had a lot of friends who wanted to hear about my new life, so these were the mass e-mails I sent around (and I hate mass e-mails, so I tried to make sure mine were fun and colourful).  I haven't read these in years so it's funny for me to look back - ahhh,  I was such a baby expat then...

October 2000: 

  1. I had one of the single worst experiences of my life yesterday while trying to open a bank account in London: "No, Miss K, despite the fact that you have every form of identification in existence, a letter from your Canadian bank saying that your accounts are in good order and crammed full of money, and a plane ticket showing that you just arrived yesterday from Canada, we won’t open an account for you if you don't have three month’s worth of utility bills showing your address on it.”  I tried four banks and got the same attitude at all of them.  Hmph.  Great Britain, once a magnificent, globe-spanning empire, now reduced to one tiny island floating in a sea of red tape.

  1. I've figured out the reason why you don’t often see a truly obese Londoner, in spite of the all-grease diet.  It's because even if you're the laziest person who ever lived and you take the Underground absolutely everywhere, you still end up walking miles and miles and miles and then more miles of corridors to get anywhere, and don't even get me started on the number of stairs and escalators.

  1. I experienced my first London rush hour on the Underground a couple of days ago (an experience also known as "Miss K Goes To Sardinesville") and I've almost recovered from the trauma.  Just don't stand too close to me...

  1. Staying at a traveller’s hostel and sleeping in a room with seven other people from different countries can be a rewarding and entertaining cultural experience.  It can also make you wonder if murdering someone in their sleep because you can't take another second of their body odour (which could strip the paint off a Buick, I ain't lying) has any kind of justifiable defence in a court of law.

  1. More guys have tried to pick me up here in a week than in Toronto all year.  Hell, throw in last year too.  It's quite something.  It seems that I'm pretty hot stuff, in the parlance of the 18 year old lifeguard/surfer from California who tried to seduce me (without success, in case any dirty-minded folk amongst you were wondering about my moral fibre) the other night.  He was 6'6" and so gorgeous he looked like he should be carved out of marble and placed on a pedestal somewhere in Florence, but alas, I have not become that much of a degenerate.  Yet.

  1. The following is going to make you wonder if I've lost what's left of my mind, but I swear it's true.  There is a show at a theatre not far from Trafalgar Square called (wait for it.....are you ready?....I don't think you'd better sit down.....are you sitting down?.....I don't believe you.....just sit the hell down......okay, fine, when you fall over, you'll only have yourself to blame) "Puppetry of the Penis".  The line above the title is "Two men.  Two dicks.  No pants." The line below the title is "The ancient Australian art of genital origami".  Now pick yourself up off the floor and don't look at me like that, I told you to sit down.  Anyway, not one word of this is a lie, and it leads me to three inescapable conclusions:  a) I will be visiting this theatre with my camera in order to capture this sign for posterity. b) I will be visiting this theatre in order to see the damn show, I don't care what it costs, are you kidding?  Aren't you dying of curiosity? and c) I will most certainly be visiting Australia in the none-too-distant future.  Any country that involves genitalia in their ancient arts is well worth a visit…

  1. Men - if you operate in the business world, I have bad news for you - the double-breasted suit with big, bold pinstripes is all the rage here.  Al Capone would be so proud; London looks like Chicago during Prohibition (well, aside from the insane amount of drinking here, of course). Ladies - the colour of the moment is gold. If you go out at night and you don't resemble a chandelier at the Ritz, forget about it. 

  1. Hostel Highlights:
  a) Smelly Guy #1 departed our room (alive, I swear), only to be replaced with Smelly Guy #2, an American who had to be in his late fifties but still thought he could get away with being a punk.  You know, I'm not one to judge people.  I'm famed for my fair-mindedness and reluctance to leap to conclusions about my fellow human beings (shush now, it’s true!), but I just have to say this: men who are old enough to be my father really shouldn't be walking around wearing more chains than the ghost of Jacob Marley, and if you've already lost most of your hair, you shouldn't be shaving what's left into weird shapes and dying it purple.  I'm just saying...

  b) The latest comment-worthy denizens of my den are two American girls from, like, the sovereign state of, like, California, who make the cast of Baywatch seem like the Nobel Prize selection panel.  Sigh.  The charm of meeting new people is starting to lose its shiny gleam.


  1. Love the flashback! I giggled all the way through, even after all these years. It does make me feel kind old though...