A Travellerspoint blog

January 2012

Dear London

A "Love-ish" Story of Girl Meets City.

semi-overcast

This is not a love letter in the traditional sense. I am not going to compare thee to a summer’s day because you provide them so infrequently I cannot be sure what they are. Instead this is an exposé of the tired, sometimes strained relationship we share.

Where to begin? You, London and I have always had a melodramatic and tumultuous love affair. While there has undoubtedly been happy times filled with fun and laughter there has also been several tears and hate-filled words hurled around. I'm not proud of it but I know it's not unusual to see you cower in the corner as I threaten a healthy dose of domestic violence if you dare offend me again. But at the heart, at some level anyway, there is a lot of love between us.

And that is what our relationship survives on. This morsel of hope is what we cling to and is the basis for my letter today. Those glimmers of hope; those fun summer days in the park, the frivolity and fun of sightseeing, the sandwich meal deals.

It is a love affair that London and I have, but a 21st century one. Not so much Singing in the Rain but arguing with each other while waiting for a bus in the pouring rain, soaked and miserable but at the same time somewhat content because we just had delicious London Indian food. London was the first international city I visited. I was just a young carefree 20-year old with hair as big as my dreams. It was a lovely August summery day in 2005 with Big Ben towering above and an African man following me through Hyde Park.

It can be a wondrous, joyful city when it wants to be but it's not all puppy dogs and rainbows. There is a dark side to London, a side you don’t want to take home to meet the family. A side that annoys, if not enrages.

One minute London life is peachy keen, then it clouds over and the rage consumes me again.

Suddenly my friendly city of fun and love is grey. Grey. Permanently grey. It sets in and stays for the rest of your lifetime until you just couldn’t possibly take it anymore, you’re tightening your noose, “goodbye cruel w’…” …and then a bit of blue sky peeks through to remind you that there is a world out there.

The city for the most part is grey, grey roads, old grey buildings, new grey buildings – the newer ones are just fancier gradients of grey and glass which reflects the rest of the grey. The Thames is that murky brown that looks quite frankly, grey. The sky is grey and together it all just merges together into one giant smear of suicide inducing smokey, gunmental, Early grey.

Then there’s the rain. If you leave without a jacket or umbrella it will rain. Sometimes it starts and doesn’t stop until you are about to hammer that last nail into your water tight ark.

But that’s all to be expected. It the truth universally acknowledged that London’s weather is dare I say it, shit. Some locals claim otherwise but it’s for no other reason than that they have never learnt that it the sky is supposed to be blue.

Teacher: “What colour is the sea?”
Children: “Blue”

Teacher: “What colour is a bus?”
Children: “Red”

Teacher: “What colour is the sky?”
Children: “Like a stucco, whiteish, stone grey with hints of depressive smokey grey”

These are trivialities and it’s not something London controls but it doesn’t stop me blaming it for all my, and the world woes. On a personal level our relationship can be strained.

Sometimes London and I want to go a date. Maybe go out for some coffee? Which sadly only ends in me throwing the scalding milky coffee in London’s face and screaming, “you call this coffee!”.

It’s awkward when we are in public together because London is very fashionable. Its finger is on the pulse with fashion. Clothes are ripped from the catwalk, then teamed with a simple high-end corporate blazer and a slightly indie fedora hat for an edge. It’s always a topic of contention with London and I because I want to leave the house in some baggy pants, Converse and a Santa jumper and then pull on a beanie. London disapproves. It’s written all over its face.

The trouble is our relationship has been off and on now for the past 6 and a half years. We know each other’s flaws which can bring us undone. I know and can, I suppose, accept that London will never provide me with decent lollies, coffee or sunshine and it knows that I cannot use a key or unlock a Barclay’s bike the first time round.

It’s true sometimes I think why the hell am I here? this city does nothing but cost me money and make my skin and hair uncharacteristically dry. I had no intentions when I relocated to relocate to stinky old/lovely old London. But here I am. And for all its flaws and all our harsh words, fist fights and black eyes there are equal amount of time where I love this city.

It is a great city.

We just have our problems. But all relationships do. And we are working on in it. Someone suggested couples therapy so London’s seeing a shrink because to be fair, it it’s problem, not mine. I’m charming.

I have seen West End, there’s a lot of singing and dancing and being faaaaabulous going on, so maybe London’s gay?

We will have to wait and see how it plays out, and if these differences end up being irreconcilable, I'll move on to a younger, more charming city, one that plays the guitar. I have no doubt London and I will just stay friends, see each other every now and then when there's a band in town or I need a lift to the airport.

Whether we can survive together is any ones guess.

Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 04:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london love weather drama london_life hate Comments (0)

Happy New Year Assholes!

rain

For some reason we, members of the human race, feel like we should do something, anything to celebrate the New Year. Now, some people love this event, I don’t relate to these people and probably on multiple issues. The rest of us that find the whole event something more akin to obligatory than appealing.

Oddly enough I prefer to spend New Year’s with people I actually like and at a house so I can go to sleep promptly after my social duties are done. I brought 2011 in with my friend, some gin and a toficken burger and was in bed by 12:45pm. A perfect New Year’s.

Alas, I am in London and I couldn’t be bothered going anywhere because I truly dislike this ‘event’ but I can’t spend New Year’s in London at home on the couch watching TV? Could I? I know the answer is a perfectly respectable “yes, yes you can” but instead I fought against my own antisocial tendencies and all logic and thought I should at least go to the Eye and see the fireworks.

So it’s late Saturday night, I was walking along the Thames eating a packet of Fruit Pastilles about to ring in the New Year alone. (Don’t be jealous, you can never be this cool)

There are people everywhere ruining the scenery. Many are intoxicated, why remember the last part or the first parts of a year? As I walked along, hoping my Fruit Pastilles would never end and making a mental note that in 2012 I would eat them more, I saw one drunken idiot fill a homeless man’s cup with vodka from the bottle she was casually carrying and I thought, this might be an interesting night...

This cannot be too bad. Can it? I had been down here before to bring in 2006 and survived.

So what I worked out as I got deeper into the thick of it all is that anyone with any sense of dignity and decorum has other plans on New Year’s and only London’s scum is out on the streets to see fireworks. And a few misguided families who won’t ever do it again.

So as I push passed the crowds of people standing and being big fat drunk sidewalk blockers I got down to the Eye a bit too early. Great I am going to have to stand here for an hour.

It was naturally raining on me if for no other reason than to increase my outrage and fuel my hate.

I was bored. I was standing with a family because they seemed the sanest around. The police manned the barricades in front of me. Idiotic youth gangs walked up and down yahooing and being a nuisance to society.

The police dragged a fool over the fence and away on average every 4 minutes. People were being gross and carrying on. I was embarrassed and horrified that there were families around while grown adults were being dragged away by police and boozing in the street. As I looked at them ti made me realise I wouldn’t make a good cop because I would have hit every one of those assholes over the head with my baton by now and enrolled them a social etiquette class.

I waited. Waited. Waited in the hotbed of moral depravity that was the banks of the Thames.

Finally the moron from BBC Radio One London that kept saying “put your hands in the air London, only 1 hour and 45 minutes to go” announced it was nearly here.

2011 as a year was ok, ups and downs and I believe it finished in a style that brought it down to 2010 level.

This ladies and gentleman is how I spent my last 15 minutes of 2011:

I was nearly there soon I would be home. There is a barrier blocking the road from a bigger fence creating a cage for policeman if you will. A cop playpen between us, the public and the area surrounding the Eye and explosives. I stand a few steps from the barrier next to a family. Close enough to pretend I’m with them but not close enough to make them uncomfortable as there was space around us.

A man pushes passed, of all the places in the street and bends over in the gutter literally in front of me and begins heaving.

Oh hell to the no, I was thinking. What are you 14? Take yourself home you moron.

Thankfully he leaves and we breathe a sigh of relief but 30 seconds later he came running back and vomits in the gutter at my feet, in front of me, and this poor family. He has obviously decided it was still a prime spot for a chuck.

He was a grown adult.

Great, that’s filthy, won’t be standing there. We all shuffle slightly. The vomit just sits there staring at us.

It wasn’t long now. A group of somewhat respectable looking but tipsy adults standing nearby decide to crack open a bottle of champagne, the cork goes flying as does the champagne, showering me and my family. Like a hose for an extended time period. They laugh and apologise.

I give them a glare that says “Haha that’s great, super amusing, thanks asshole”.

Still waiting. Who can I pay to end this year early so I can go to bed?

Next, three girls appear probably aged about 16-17 and a bit drunk. I overhear them saying that one needs to pee and the other two were saying just pee here. Like we are drunk no one will notice. I interrupted and said it my most polite and helpful voice, “there are toilets just there under the bridge, about 50metres away, you can see the sign”

There were not convinced that was a good idea. She had about 8 minutes before midnight. It was definitely doable.

I stopped short of saying “Please don’t piss in the street you filthy bitch, what would your mother think”
Too late. In the last 5 minutes of 2011 a girl is squatting next to me with her two friends trying to cover her while she pisses on the road, in public, while the security guard nearby just watches on like a creep.

Filthy bitch.

I am shocked and appalled.

At least this family was sharing my utter disgrace at humanity. I wanted to pull aside the 10-year old daughter and tell her to make a conscious decision never to be the kind of girl that intentionally pisses in a gutter.

With mere minutes to go before I can go home, a young guy slips between me and the family to the 30 cm of space in front of me which we were leaving clear to avoid the obvious human bodily functions.

We gave him a dirty look and enclosed ranks slightly. His somewhat more polite friend waits a minute then has the audacity to ask me if he can *just* get through to his friend. The barrier is 30 cm from me. This tool is standing in front of me facing me because there isn’t really room to stand there. I look at him like he is a piece of human garbage. It’s tense for a moment because there is no way in hell these two were going to come in at 11:57 and stand in front of us, after all we had endured.
And before I could say “look mate, no chance” mum there just launches at them. Something along the lines of “there is no way in hell you are going to stand there you rude little pricks, we have been waiting here for 3 hours (exaggeration but not relevant, go mummy) and we want to take photos and you are going to stand right in front of her (me)”.

She was furious. She was practically shaking. All the London scum was starting to wear this little family from Bournemouth down. Surprisingly, though I think if nothing else this night taught me that I shouldn't ever be surprised, this obnoxious little shit just launches back at her, a grown woman in front of her husband and children with crap about it being a public place.

The sheer audacity of this douchebag, I just wanted her to slap his face.

This was turning out to be quite a night. I have never seen so many douchebags in one place.

Eventually he leaves and I have a little chat to the family who I think at that point were concerned I was there on my own and for their own safety. I pointed out that the whole time this little punk was standing in front of me he was standing in a pile of chicken soup looking vomit and I was watching it squelch into his sneakers so our victory.

Finally the countdown began, thank god, end this year already.

In all the commotion some more morons had found their way right behind me and man about my own age started screaming and yelling, and counting down and screaming in my ear like Elvis had just reappeared with Oprah and they was giving us all a car.

I was done, at that point I just turned around with a look of disgust and said,

“It’s really that exciting is it?” - motioning to a number projected onto a building that wasn’t even at a good number, it was literally at 46.

And he apologised but kept yelling, directing his screech slight away from my ear.

The fireworks began. They were awesome. I suddenly forgot how much I hated the world and enjoyed the fireworks lighting up the night sky.

They ended, I said Happy New Year to my family and pushed my way passed the morons and powerwalked along the Thames and away from the horror of public events in public places.

Next year I’m staying in and having a Cary Grant marathon.

I felt an overwhelming sense of relief as I put distance between myself and the Eye, I even smiled as a group of intoxicated Indonesian youth were counting down the new year 20 minutes late, enam, lima, empat, tiga, dua, satuuuuuuuuu!

So that was it. New Year’s Eve my annual reminder that I hate a lot of people and it’s amazing I have any friends at all.

Oh and London, you are a city of assholes.

Happy New Year no one. I hate you all.

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Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 09:57 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london london_eye fireworks nye new_years_eve 2012 scum Comments (1)

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