Saturday, January 14, 2012

Letters from London #2

Well, I was going to get back to posting about Paris today, but I'm still in a bit of a nostalgic mood for London and my early expat days.  (More importantly, I'm feeling very lazy tonight and this is already written, so this is what you're getting...)

November 2000:

1.       Hostel Highlights:
  • Imagine, if you will, a pig.  No, not some cute little oinker like the one in "Babe", I'm talking about an enormous, full-grown sow.  Now imagine this pig walks upright, has long, witchy black hair, is wearing a dress made of fishnet and boots with 4" platform heels.  Got that?  Good.  Okay, now imagine that this pig invades your dorm at 3:00 in the morning, turns on the light, stomps around, yells about her bag having been stolen, and proceeds to rummage drunkenly through your belongings.  Boy, living in a hostel is awesome.  I’m so glad I moved to London without knowing anyone, without a job and without a place to live – what a clever, clever decision.  
  • Imagine, if you will, the worst snoring you've ever heard and then multiply it by about a thousand.  This guy (who is as big as your average grizzly bear) checked into our dorm last night and I have never in my life heard anything like his snoring.  How can you describe the indescribable?  The closest I can get is to suggest that you imagine the offspring of a wild boar and a vacuum cleaner trying to have sex with an unwilling donkey, while it's playing an out-of-tune saxophone under a blanket of mucus.  
  • Imagine, if you will, four pasty, pimply Scottish boys who get up for work at 5:30am (an event which involves all four of their mobile phone alarms going off and their buddy coming to bang loudly on our dorm door) and mill about like a herd of dazed, loud-mouthed Highland cows as they get ready.  I'm now into my third day without sleep and things are about to get ugly, if not downright homicidal.  Every night, we explain to them that this is not their private dorm, and that the other four people who sleep there have paid good money for a bed and that there are a few simple rules of hostel courtesy that should be followed.  Every night, they look shamefaced, mutter "Och, aye, ye're right, sorry" and go to bed, only to repeat their actions in the morning.  So I'm not sure if they're all a) suffering from a rare form of overnight amnesia, b) as thick as pig manure, or c) sadists who would make Vlad the Impaler weep with pride.

2.        A stunning Australian guy I met at the hostel last month came back to town and stayed here just exactly long enough to stomp all over my heart, so that's great news. I was worried that I wouldn't manage to have a doomed romance in London, so I'm really glad that I've been able to check that one off my list.  In fact, I'm going to go out and look for a long black cloak with a hood so that I can mope around the city in the rain like Meryl Streep in "The French Lieutenant's Woman". (I know, "The Australian Mechanical Engineer's Woman" doesn't have quite the same poetic ring to it, but that just can't be helped.)

3.        Londoners are still fascinating me with their behaviour.  They'll line up in an orderly fashion for a mile and a half for just about anything, with the sole exception of the Underground.  As soon as they see a train coming in, they turn into a rabid, snarling, pushing, shoving pack of wolves.  The other day, I was elbowed aside by a little old lady who was a) about 80, b) no bigger than my leg, and c) a nun, of all things!  I swear I'm not making this stuff up.

4.        Despite succumbing to the all-grease, all-fat English diet (which isn't nearly as much fun as I thought it might be), I've lost an astonishing amount of weight so far by the simple expedient of only eating about once a day.  When you live in a hostel that has no kitchen facilities whatsoever, you figure out how to survive on this.  I'm sure the next time I see a vegetable, I'll run away screaming in terror because I won't know what it is.

5.        Fashion: I went to my first really pretentious London bar on the weekend, and I so do not have the right clothes for this town.  Even on the best slutty-clothing day of my life, I would look like an 1850s schoolmarm here.  When I have recovered from my sleep deprivation and my ferocious cold, and when I again resemble something that might once have been human, we'll have to see what can be done about that.

6.        In the "and you thought there were no miracles in modern times" category, here's one that will amaze you:  I, Miss K, am now the proud owner of a brand new, bright, shiny bank account!!!!  It took me a whole month and the next-to-last bank I tried basically accused me of being a money-laundering drug lord because I didn't have three years of British addresses to prove who I was.  Well, of course - money-laundering drug lords often work as temps in their spare time.  Who needs diamonds, yachts, and champagne when you could be typing, filing, and making coffee for people who a) don’t appreciate it and b) think you’re a moron?  Good times!

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of the month I spent at the hostel for woman opposite the british museum ...waaay back in the day when the punks were real.....

    Good times....a cold pork pie would be my main meal of the day..gotta love London