Tuesday, November 30, 2004

soaring into the next series

We're almost ready to jump on the plane - in fact, champing at the bit to get ready and leave London. It's very exciting to be embarking on yet again, a new trip to a new country. I just can't wait to go.

Friday, before I departed the agency I was pulled into the office to talk about what I would change in future. Fearing I may blurt everything out, I requested to have a think about it and come back to her. I then parted ways, and lost half the afternoon by cleaning out my desk and looking with this guy whose last day it was, at the Scotland Yard's ten most wanted.

I finished up at the agency without much of a goodbye, went to this guy's farewell - and 5 people came for mine. Hugely popular in the UK office obviously, but I was pleased I wasn't expected to linger for long, so Max and I could escape around 7:30pm and slip into our own night.

From there we went back to Notting Hill for one of our best dinners yet. A place called, I think, Wine & Pizza Bar, with great pizza, great sticky date pudding, just great - probably also on a high after finishing up after a most heinous month of work (the weekends were ace). We meandered our way home, exploring yet more backstreets of Notting Hill. An early night to ready ourselves for a final weekend in London. Hip hip hooray!

We slept in a bit late Saturday, then made our way out into the bracing cool breezes, into Kensington Gardens to go squirrel hunting. Or more aptly, squirrel spotting. We've become quite good - we managed to spot over 20 - and I got to feed them some of my muesli bar. So cute! They then began chasing me, they'd heard the word on the street, they knew I had the good stuff and they wanted a piece of the action. All was well until I heard swooping wings, not just one set, around 20-30, turned around and saw a flock of pigeons heading my way. I felt like Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. I was surrounded. Max had luckily already cleared the group, and all that remained was me and a couple of squirrels frozen in fear. I finally summoned the courage to charge through, and got out of there very quickly.

We walked to the deli for a quick breakfast, and then to the Victoria and Albert Museum to take in 'Black British Fashion' which was quite interesting. We hot footed it back to Notting HIll to meet up with our friend Kith, walked around the neighbourhood, got an Ottolenghi hot chocolate, and kept walking for a while, stumbled upon the bookshop from the film 'Notting Hill', and then made our way home. We showed Kith our 'room' which also doubles as a shoebox when no one's staying over.

The three of us then regrettably ate McDonald's for dinner as we were in a bit of a rush, and then headed on the tube to Shepherd's Bush to watch M. Ward play at Bush Hall. We encountered a few obnoxious Australians on the way - and apparently Shepherd's Bush is where a lot live, so we kept a low profile.. But M. Ward. Amazing. Great venue, amazing venue, with chandeliers spotted throughout. So pretty. And M. Ward played in all his pared back glory. A great gig. Then home and crashed out.

On Sunday, we went to Harvey Nicks - which has fantastic Christmas windows - male mannequins with mohawks of snowflakes all white and grand. I was looking for some shoes to replace my old faithfuls, however, once I asked the assistant if she had a size 41 - she responded, 'we only go up to 8' grabbed the shoe from me and walked away. I left Harvey Nicks with a bitter taste and hoped for more from Harrods.

And more more more, how do you like it? Harrods was hilarious. A mish mash of arcades, Christmas decorations of Edwardian style costumes with planet of the ape heads - what in the world was this place. Max told me any child of his would not be allowed in the Christmas decoration departments.

We then took the stairs (as opposed to the Egyptian Escalators) as we had to meet a friend back at Notting Hill. We came face to face with a garish memorial to Dodi and Di - maidenhair ferns, gold, gold, gold, Maxy and I skidaddled out of there very quickly!

Met with Harald in the rain. A funny meeting, one which had taken quite some time to tee up. We had a great afternoon chatting, then walked back, us three, in the rain, me with wet Converse sneakers and sodden socks.

Max and I wolfed down some cheese toasties (Or toosties as the Welsh call them), and then caught the tube to take part in the Jack the Ripper London Walk. I was expecting around 20 people to take part with Don - the leader. This was some bumper night, for I think conservatively there would have been over 150 people. Wowsers. We each paid our £5.50 - and went off with three different leaders.

We had Andy - who I have to say reminded me of my friend's boyfriend so much, I had trouble taking him seriously. But alas, Max and I flocked to the front of the group and heard all that Andy had to say about the ghoulish Whitechapel murders, as well as some history about the East End, as well as the police forces of London (City Police versus the Met Police). It ended at around 9:30pm near the Ten Bells pub (where the killer may have allegedly drunk with the prostitutes) near Spitalfields markets. A fascinating tour, and I would definitely recommend these walks to anyone -regardless of whether you're a London local, Andy's knowledge of history, geography and culture was amazing, and held us both captive throughout the two hours.

And then there was Monday, and sucking everything we can from each day has become our mantra. Off we popped to have brunch at Fortnum & Mason, where they wouldn't serve me toast so I had to settle for a banana milkshake (so good) and carrot cake (not bad, not bad at all) and Maxy ate scrambled eggs with salmon. Contented, we wandered through the foodhall, and were spat back out onto the street.. We rushed up and down Regent Street, went back into Liberty - just for the fun - by far the best windows we have seen, and such a beautiful store.. Off to Marylebone Street to visit V.V. Rouleaux and picked up some great ribbons for Christmas.. And then to Ottolenghi for dinner and a quiet night in so we could pack for our Paris leg of the journey.

There was also yet another memorable tube moment when this girl was avidly staring at me. I cheesey smiled back at her, and she didn't know what to do back. Very amusing.

Today we went to Fenwick in New Bond Street, which was a great laidback department store, then to Top Shop where I found a special 'tall' section. Fantastic. Back to our place and then to find this stinky internet cafe. Phew. And my connection keeps cutting out and driving me insane. There's bad Celine Dion music on, and luckily for me folks, there is salvation.

Tonight we're going to see The Frames play at Bush Hall with Kith (an Irish band with our Irish friend) which we're both really excited about.

And then tomorrow, we bid adieu to London to head to Paris until December 11.

Plum loco and in love,
Twiggy and Maxy

Friday, November 26, 2004

stage right, exit left

Time winds down, and it's a curious blessing to be heading out into the air, on our own - without work, and free on holidays in another new land. Today is my last day at the agency, and the excitement burring around me is palpable. It's been a strange month, and I'm not sure I can explain it right here, but needless to say, I am looking forward to journeying on to Paris, and then to Sydney, to enjoy the first burst of summer. The first of our season of mangoes, dripping down our chins, blow flies that don't leave you alone, sticky skin, cool sea breezes, and the rustle of the trees out our window. Familiar faces, and not being an alien any longer.

Tuesday we went over to a friend's house in Waterloo for dinner, and warm company. It was easy to relax into this setting, and I think we both felt quite at home, in a house full of Aussies and one Irish friend, Kith. We chatted easily for hours, looked through the house which was 4 stories with an amazing roof top terrace, and sprawling view of the city. I felt relaxed, and a bit disappointed when it came time to leave. But alas, it was time.

My final week with the agency was a bit tense. I was informed that I was heading to Birmingham and Manchester - and would stay overnight in Manchester. However, I had already made plans, booked tickets to see Les Miserables - and let them know. I was then told I was a 'disappointment'. But hey folks, you can't please everyone, and I stood my ground and didn't budge.

We reached a compromise and I was duly ignored for the rest of the afternoon. Bah humbug. The life of working in a mainly all girl environment. (Funny that I have not come across this at my own real workplace - but here it's been rife).

I arose, dressed, ready to tackle the new day head on. The car didn't turn up to pick me up (picking up a theme here?), so I started walking down the road to flag a taxi. Then a car pulled up, the driver wound the window down and said 'Ey, you going to Euston?'. Yes. This was the pick up and I climbed in. 'Are you sure you need to be at the station at 8:00am?' Yes. Yes I am sure. 'Ok. What time does your train leave?' 8:06, but I've not been to this station before. 'Oh, er ok.' So we kamikazed around the streets, and the driver got me there, sheepishly shooing me from the car as he'd made me late for a very important date, unfortunately not with the Cheshire Cat.

So I headed off to Birmingham on the train by myself - without having to stay the night in Manchester. The trip wasn't bad, I had my seat to myself, and it went quickly while I listened to Missy Higgins on repeat. That girl is the very girl herself. What a voice. I got to Birmingham Bullring after asking directions - blocking out the rest of Birmingham and the 'Brummies' with my headphones, being in my own world only helped to put a jollier step in my gait. This place was massive, and if you think Westfield Bondi Junction or Chatswood Chase are large, the Bullring (Complete with plastic bull out the front) was a mamoth arc of steel and glass. Found our location and set to wooing the punters.

It is at this point that I must point out the quality of the passerby. Chavs and pikeys are two words I have become increasingly fond of, and they are right up there with pants, bollocks and brilliant. Chavs (pov knockers who wear almost just labels, oversized fat cheap gold jewellery and look - pants but think they look brilliant) were surrounding our area. They were scary and in groups (I know I sound like an old lady) of around 15-20, inching closer and closer, and vying for a chance to enter our giftwrapping championship. Then there were the pikeys. Poorer versions of the chavs. I think generally they needed a good wash. I was on pikey patrol - as a number of them seemed to be eyeing off our backpacks and bags. One street urchin, who would have been around ten loitered for almost two hours. And during this time, he'd stand right up close next to me, and managed to intimidate me. I'm 5'11, so not exactly short stature - he would have been around 5'0 - and this child scared me. Dressed shabbily - a dull grey hoodie marked with food stains, an oversized jacket, he needed more than just a wash, I think he needed some anti-lousing too. One minute he was there, the next, he vanished into thin pikey air. He kept getting closer and closer to me. So I stood still, and waited him out. I think he got bored, went around the other side, so I appeared by his side over there. I know my Dad would have enjoyed this. I had, by this time, already briefed the strolling security that there were a lot of dodgy, shonky (they had no idea what this meant) characters, and could they stick around. Finally, one of my colleagues said to the street urchin, 'Either you enter the competition, or I am going to call security.' Vamoose. He was out of there. Birmingham was creepy, and come 3:00pm, I was pleased to be on the train and getting back to London, where I felt considerably safer.

That evening, Max and I went to see Les Miserables at the West End at the Queen's Theatre. A strange, pokey space, we wound up and up and up stairs until we found a tiny bar with two occupants, and then the theatre itself. We were in the upper circle, row c, seats 19 and 20. Vertigo struck as we peered down. It was super steep, and all I could think was that my clumsy frame was going to go hurtling over the edge and land in the pit, making a resounding clang on the drums. Luckily, I negotiated my body around the steps and into our seats without free-falling.

The show was great, and I could really only fault two things - the follow spot - the girl was shaky, so in particularly low key scenes, the spotlight kept shaking and moving, and one of the choruses mikes was too loud, and that person was singing out of key. But it was great, and the two that sang 'Master of the House' had me in stitches. The show finished up and we hotfooted it out of Soho and home by 11.30pm. Late nights tire little girls out.

Thursday I rose early and quickly scarpered into full dress, climbed down the stairs and met the car to take me to Euston. The driver asked me about Australian Christmas cards and if we have snow scenes. I said, yes, sometimes, but I don't think we really think about it that much. He dropped me off, and I skidaddled to the train for a 2.5 hour journey to Manchester, as I had been reminded by many, home of many a music legend (this means nothing to me - I have immunity having grown up in Tamworth with a plethora of musical genius in my neck of the woods - haw haw haw).

Queued up for a cab, and drove in a blue car to Manchester Trafford Shopping Centre. When Kith told me what a monstrosity this place was, I thought, yes, yes, I can imagine it being over the top, but it will be ok.

This building I think sprawled about 5 times bigger than Chatswood Chase. It was one of those pseudo old buildings, with columns, decorative swirls, and gold eagles - perched on top - as though to guard over all the loot that lay inside. I walked in via Selfridges, and walked and walked, and finally approached a shop assistant and said, 'How do I get out of here?'. She told me to keep walking.

And then I strolled out. Kath and Kim would have wet their pants. Fountaingate has nothing on this place. It was like being in the poor-man's Versace Hotel. Peachy coloured faux marble every surface you looked at, highlighted with brash gold. And then there were the chlorinated fountains, in all their glory, something like the Trevi fountain, laiden with coins. And the gold, oh I know I have already mentioned it, but it was certainly a sight. Gold, gold, fake plants, gold, what seemed like hundreds of people on motorised scooters, one man nearly ran me over. And let's not forget about the gold. Kath and Kim would have felt very 'effluent' in these surroundings. Very noice.

Our competition started, and we had a temp working with us. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, after an hour she asked me if I had an accent. I felt like saying, not when I'm in Australia, but that yes, I was from Australia.

The heats were going off like a frog in a sock, and I even had a go at wrapping the snowman. With comments such as 'What are you doing? Can’t convicts cut paper? And do it for your fellow convicts. Don't you convicts have scissors?' the tension was rife. After the event had wound down, we caught the train home. I put my headphones on so I didn't have to talk to anyone, and continued reading my J.D. Salinger book.

Night time was spent lolling in bed watching Law and Order. I was knackered and needed a rest. Too many chavs and pikeys in two days can be bad for one's health.

We caught the tube into Soho - I was running late, the tube stopped in - well a dark tunnel - it was hot, I wanted a little nap. Maxy and I were pulling faces at each other causing much concern to other people in the carriage. And here I am writing my week.

Now our time in London is coming to a close. We're heading to Paris on Wednesday which is hotly anticipated by both Max and myself. Looking forward to all the treats and delights Paris has to offer. Our weekend and last few days I am imagining is going to be almost chaotic, clambering to get to everywhere we want to head. I think Max was heading to Oxford today.

Tips for when you're bored on the tube:
1. If you're standing near the doors, you can make your legs appear to just be two sets of two feet, and long legs, by moving in the glass doors.
2. If you score a seat, take a look in your glass reflection and distort your appearance. Bound to be worth hours of laughter for the whole family.
3. Grab the Metro. It's free, and it's one bad, bad paper.
4. Tune into your walkman.
5. So no one sits next to you, rock backwards and forwards.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

curtains closing on the blue

I'm going to Birmingham and Manchester this week. Two days out of the office, then one day back - which is, my last day. Phew. And a couple of train rides to Birmingham and Manchester which are being touted as 'a great opportunity for you to see the country' - however, it's an early morning train ride - in darkness, and then 5 hours in a shopping centre, then back to the train, just in time for sundown to arrive back to London back in the dark. Hardly an intoxicating experience. However, I do have a good idea of where not to shop in regional areas, so let all your friends know about my wealth of knowledge.

Got a hint that I am being sarcastic? Perhaps that's because I am.

Not exactly high times in sunny London, waking at the crack of - well there's no dawn, cause the sun is like a watered down version that I am still yet to see. So just an early rise and bracing myself for the cold.

But dear reader, it ain't all sad and blue.

Friday's my last day - and then it's Max and my high times in the high streets. We've got some solid gold days planned, and before we jet out of here we're going to Bush Hall to see M. Ward and The Frames play (2 different nights), which is great guns! And lots of expeditions in between.

Plus, we're going to see the Christmas lights all lit and strung up amid the dull folk wandering the streets.

A friend sent me this great review today which summed up London for me, below is an excerpt for your to savour:

Last night I had a truly awful experience in a truly terrific restaurant. And when I say “awful”, I mean that it was typical of the small-minded, brutal, ignorant, greedy, snobbish, ugly, filthy quagmire of moral excrement which is, on occasion, the London top-end restaurant scene. It was a night that exemplified everything which you, the people, the demos, hoi polloi, the rock and wellspring of all that is great about our nation, worry might happen to you when you go to a flashy new restaurant and encounter them, the oligarchs, the parasites, the pampered plutocrats, the crapulent kakistocracy that tramples on the decent, the modest, the good and the kind, the right and the proper, to satisfy its greed, its vanity, its vulgar, cupiditous, misplaced sense of superiority. And when I say “terrific”, I mean that when the food finally arrived at my table - by which time my evening had already been ruined - it was about as good as one could hope to be served in a restaurant.

Dear reader, you may have a had a good, honest experience of this city. But damn. I obviously came over in the wrong month. Everyone in our office is wearing a uniform of snappypants or eaten Snappy Tom for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the high times are when Max and I escape from their evil clutches and run riot. We're the only ones that regularly talk on the train. Everyone else just stares. Last night, catching the tube from Tottenham Court Road to Holland Park, this girl was just staring at me. So I stared back. And she wouldn't look away. In a slightly vulnerable mood, I whispered perhaps a little too loudly, 'Maxy, she's staring at me.' And she quickly looked away. Yet in under two minutes she was back staring at me again. Luckily I could get off the train rather promptly.

Needless to say, when our flight to Paris pulls up, I certainly won't be dilly-dallying out of this city.

I have had some good shopping moments though. And that, dear reader, is what I think you'll find is most important:

- Boots - Lancome is dirt cheap here. Well not dirt cheap. But cheaper at home. Especially when I never convert Aus. $ properly.
- Cath Kidston - nice ladies working in there who were most helpful, and hours of perusing the shelves
- Liberty - could have easily lost myself in this old school department store for hours. I shall return, and wander aimlessly looking at all the pretty things.
- Tatty Devine - cool accessories, cool service, and the girl liked my boots. Extra points for them!

And there are more to come this weekend. There's an open air Ice Rink open at Kew Gardens. For £9 per hour you can skate til your heart's content. Maxy can go and do this if he likes, but I will wave from the sidelines, as anyone that's seen me on wheels knows just how unco-ordinated I am. And if you haven't, just think of a baby giraffe on rollerblades. It could serve as great entertainment, but I'm not in the mood for snapping my ankles.

I'm meeting up with another PR woman tonight in Carnaby Street to get more of an insight into the UK market. Just for 1/2 hour and a champagne (well that was the invitation folks!), and then off to dinner with some friends. Can't wait to get out of the office and into the chill and into the company of warmer compadres.

Oh I know, I know, I sound so blue and glum. It's like a pendulum of moods, and for the most part, I am counting down every minute of getting out of the office and into my holiday time. It's been hard being the ring-in for the month, harder than I thought, and I can't wait for Max and I to enjoy the time together out exploring.

We're also hoping to see Les Miserables at West End tomorrow night which should be good. So then I can do renditions of Master of the House out of key all the time, and actually have been, I think much to Maxy's annoyance! (Remember Wednesday night is show time where all the Americanos come out to play).

And then it's almost the weekend. Dear reader, that's a good thing, for it heralds holidays and all the fun of the fair. It's almost pens down time, when I let my hair down, and party up Parisienne stylie.

Don't rain on my parade I say, friends have sent fabulous tips for things to do and see whilst roaming the streets of Paris, and if you have any - send them through.

I've also had some moments of excitement. That celeb we saw, with cheeks the size of granny smith apples is this one: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001523/ . I remembered I saw her in Laurel Canyon and E.R. She really looked amazing in real life, with those cheek bones - wowsers.

Monday, November 22, 2004

standing in the rain, but smiling

Fridays are such funny things. All week they're hotly anticipated. Then they roll up and just as soon, they're gone, blown away, and so are your Saturday and Sunday. Dang.

Friday I woke early to get ready to leave for Cardiff on the train. The taxi turned up early 6:05am - they called on arrival, to which I replied, 'Great - will be down in 5 minutes.' Ran down the stairs with Matt, only to be greeted by darkness, a whole troop of parked cars, and not a single taxi in sight.

Max and I ran back upstairs, searched frantically through the yellowpages, but since we're not from around these parts, had a bit of trouble recognising which to call. Made a few pleading calls to which the response was, 'No, we've got nothing available', so had to dash out onto Bayswater Road to hail our own taxi. Quickly kissed Maxy goodbye, jumped in, and off I went to Paddington. I asked for a receipt, but the driver had run out, so I pleaded - please write on anything - so he wrote my receipt on a scrap of cardboard.

Raced out worried I was late, bought a hot chocolate and some water for the trip, met with the other girl from the agency and we boarded our train. The countryside was amazing. I was tempted to sleep, but didn't want to miss a centimetre of rolling green hills, English cows grazing, people rowing on a small brook, frosted grass green. Berry brambles climbing fences, and the delicate silhouettes of trees brushing the blue-grey sky. It was beautiful. Arriving into Cardiff was not so beautiful. I had to wrap my scarf around my head it was so cold. We bungled our way to the shopping centre with loads of time to set up and get started on a non-exciting day.

I spent the day in a shopping centre surrounded by people with gold front teeth, massive gold jewellery. Forgive me for not detailing this episode more elaborately, but what's to say.

Arrived back in London and caught the Circle Line back to Notting Hill Gate. Snuck up on Max in our place - we were both excited to see each other - me after such a bland day that I could parallel with eating bocconcini on white bread.

We decided to hot foot it out into the wilderness, and try our luck again at S & M. And no. Max and I haven't gone wayward. S & M stands for sausages and mash. A diner style restaurant that serves old fashioned bangers and mash. We were kept amused by a large family and their young children, while feasting on sausages, mash, gravy and squished peas. We pondered eating a dessert - ice cream in sundae glasses, or crumble - but both decided to be good. Paid, and the young waiter called out after we donned our coats, 'Hope it's not too cold for you two.' I wear my scarf covering my mouth which indicates the big chill, Max in beanie and thick jacket. We wove our way back to our place, in and around foreign Notting Hill streets, discovering new sites, and chatting. We went home, read for a while and then slept.

And then to Saturday morning, we woke to rain, a drizzle, so not really a rain per se. We headed off to the Borough Markets where we are now regulars. The fat man who works at the game was aptly wearing an apron reading 'Food Lover'. I love looking at him. He really doesn't look real. On another one of our friends' recommendations, we headed to Monmouth Coffee - for a fantastic cup of coffee. It's next door to Neal's Yard - where the smells of the cheeses was spilling over. We drank our coffee, bought our fruit and veg, found our favourite yoghurts and told the man he should bring them to Australia - and we'd eat them all (which earnt us a 50p discount), and then meandered back to the front and jumped on a tube home.

We stowed our groceries and once again, headed out to meet a friend to go to a small gallery where an exhibition of papercuts was showing. Unfortunately we got to the station, Max was accosted by a bleeding homeless man crying, and the gallery was closed. We hotfooted it to the British Museum to take in the works on paper.. I forget the guys name but it has an Alexander Taylor.. Something like that. Max knows better than I. A huge collection of works by various artists, some great Chuck Close pieces, mixed in with Picasso, Matisse.. And so on.. Great to see. Once we had made our way through, we hit the streets again in pursuit of good hot chocolates, and ended up back at Notting Hill.. The Grocers on Elgin - Terrence Conran's son runs, served us up three Spanish hot chocolates. It was as though someone had melted some dark chocolate buttons and poured them into our cups. Then served with thick cream, it was decadent to say the least. And sickening. I couldn't finish mine, and continued to peruse the menu for something more substantial.

We ended up back out on the street, my navy converse sneakers soaked, as I'd accidentally stepped into an icy puddle. My soaks were sodden, my feet were bleeding. This was not a great day to be trooping out and about and I couldn’t wait to get into the shower and into some dry socks. I'll be purchasing some leather flat shoes later this week. The canvas Converse aren't really cutting it as an all-weather all terrain runabout. Dang.

Dropped our friend at the tube station, and we continued home. I jumped in the shower to defrost, and then climbed into bed to watch Moulin Rouge.

Sunday we caught the train to Max's cousin's house near Gatwick. Horsham I think. Such pretty countryside, and strange to arrive at an airport/train station. Geneva? Milan? Or just London Victoria today? So many options, but we took the lunch option and had a great roast lamb lunch. Yum! A beautiful setting, the house has a fantastic thatched roof, so beautiful, with pheasants roaming around - which I have been informed are dumb animals. A great afternoon, escaping from the hum of London into a real life for at least a few hours. We caught the train back and then the tube to Notting Hill, then went for a big walk around the back streets again. I picked up a discarded olive green suede coat. Love that. And it was in Portobello Street - and it was free. Charming. We wandered for a couple of hours, and then home and watched 'our Hugh' on Four Weddings and a Funeral. Snoozed, and woke to the blandness of another Monday, soldier.

At least Max came to rescue me at half time, though without oranges, it was a welcome break. We had lunch at Fresh and Wild, spotted a celebrity who I think is in ER - but I can't be sure. She stared at me as I put my garbage in the bin at her feet, at least I didn't ask her to sign any bodyparts. Then we cruised up to Liberty - wowsers. That store is like Alice in Wonderland in modern times, so nice to escape into those doors.

And on headway into another week - my last week at the agency, and then we're onto our own time!

I'm meeting up with some external PR companies this week to enlighten myself further.. Plus we're finally going to do our Jack the Ripper walk, see M. Ward play at Bush Hall, see the Frames with our friend, and meet up with some other friends.. A jam packed week as London time winds up!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

the jokes wear thing

- Note to Londoners - Convict jokes wear a bit thin after about the first use. Three weeks of them is like pure torture. In return, you'll receive a fake smile, and a 'haha' you're really witty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

the english are so very rude

Elbowing us out of the way, we've managed to learn the fine art of body slamming, Londoners avoid eye contact, don't smile, and dress in dark, drab colours. It's quite a feat, and you still have to walk away with your elbows protruding to ensure someone doesn't walk up behind you and attach themselves to your arm. Elbows are very useful indeed.

And while I make it sound like we're not having fun, it's quite the contrary.

If we talk on the tube, we allocate ourselves points. No one talks on the tube, and talking in our natural accents seems to draw even more curious eyes.

While London is acclaimed as a fashion capital, high fashion here seems to hinge on ugh boots (more like - ugh no boots), short skirts and ham hock fat legs.

And one of my friends told me Englishmen are good looking. Ah - sorry - but where are they all? I think I've seen one, and he's in our office. The only other good looking male I've laid eyes on is Maxy - and he's Australian. Oh Princes William and Harry are good looking cads too - but they're not real.

Walking up to the Liberty store at lunch time, and Regent Street is strung up with Christmas lights. Very pretty. Blue and silver, with a dash of (Violet Crumble) purple, and they even glimmer during the day time. A sort of day time sequined street. Razzle dazzle.

Regent Street is packed full of people, and it seems like everyone here has already begun their Christmas shopping. It's crazy. Bedlam. Buoyant, Max and I ride the crowd down the road until we realise my lunchbreak has nearly ended.

The Liberty store is a beautiful and eclectic Christmas display. Mannequins covered in crockery, glassware, lobsters, hair braided with paper, mannequins tilted and all askew - a Christmas carnevale - it's colourful, fun and brash.. We'll go back and revisit for some snaps before we come home.

It's not too cold today. Well it's cold, and much to a ditzy co-workers surprise, it's colder than anything we experience in Autumn. She was shocked I wore a singlet. Oh the scandal. My desk is as cold as outside, so I have to bring some kind of wrap to act as a blanket during the day. It's a bit depressing. And the view out the window - is, well a skylight, and it's grey with some more grey of some corrugated iron.

I do remember though, my first day here, and looking out from the top level, over the Soho rooftops is a sight. The jagged difference in ages of buildings, makes for a mish-mash of culture.

It took me a few weeks to figure out why I could hear kids yelling and playing in our street. This area is the hotpot of strip clubs, adult stores, and brothels. Wedged in between is a primary school, right next to the Pink Pussycat where the girls sit out the front to lure the guys. A bit depressing really.

We're looking forward to our Paris stint - and I've begun the London countdown.. Maybe it's because I know while London is shivering, Sydney is surfing.. Dang.

Tonight we're heading to eat our favourite thai.. It's a consolation for being a bit lonely in a busy city.

Tomorrow we're meeting up with a friend of a friend after work in Notting Hill... That's going to be the dog's bollocks!!

High tea anyone?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

perched upon the rooftops

Observations I neglected to include in previous episodes:

- Max saw some guy from The Usual Suspects at the Saatchi Gallery - I saw the back of his head

- There are no salty crackers in this country

- There are lots of young homeless people. They must be cold.

- There are some good buskers. And there are some bad buskers. Save money for the good ones.

- While bird poo is considered to be good luck, is pigeon poo on a red jacket?

- There is a lot of bad television in this country. Mainly reality tv shows.

- Ugh boots are not a phenomena. Ugh boots are not high fashion. Ugh boots should not be worn to work. Ugh boots should not be worn out of the house unless they are the only shoes you own and only then can you wear them out of the house if it's under 10 degrees.

- Journalists in London are prissy upstarts. I've now learnt a fine appreciation of Australian journos.

- One should always wash one's hands after riding the tube.

- Avoid Soho on Wednesday evenings. All the American tourists seem to gather and it becomes like walking through molasses when you're made of feathers. Ie, you get stuck.

- Obviously in the mother country, men no longer believe in giving up their seat for women. Instead they just elbow women out of the way when a seat is available on the tube.