Sunday, September 28, 2008

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner...

For those of us (un)fortunate enough to live outside Britain's capital, the London way of life is something of an incomprehensible myth. When visiting the city, we see daily commuters rushing through their journeys, hopping from tube to bus to train to tram without a spare second for anything else. I've often wondered at these people, curious as to why they feel the need to live life at ten times its normal speed. Until recently, I'd felt that when people claimed that life in London was too fast they were just exaggerating. Why should living in the capital make such a difference? This was my opinion until I moved to London myself.

Day 1- 8.30 am

I'm getting ready (and running a little late) when there is a knock at the door. Bewildered as to who on earth is calling at this time of the morning, I open the door with caution. It's a man wanting to check the gas meter. Having told him that I have no idea where the gas meter is, he glances at his little machine, informs me that it is in the kitchen and politely asks if he can come in and look for it. So much for a peaceful morning...Having been delayed, I opt for the quicker mode of transport on my way to university- tube rather than bus- then almost wish I hadn't after having to fork out £6.80 for a day travelcard. I spend the day getting lost and standing in queues. When I arrive home, I'm shattered and it's only 5.30 pm.

Day 2

The day goes suprisingly smoothly until I try to cath the bus home. I know that I need to catch the 91 so, like the logical person I am, I stand at the 91 bus stop at Euston station. The bus comes, I hop on and 15 minutes later find myself heading out of central London towards Trafalgar Square. I ask the bus driver is he is going anywhere near my road. He gives me a strange look and tells me that the next stop is the last one. I quickly get off, cross the road and ask the bus driver on this side if he's going anywhere near my road. "Other side, darlin'," I'm told. I sigh, get off, wander around and eventually find myself on the right bus. As we pass Euston station, I notice that there are two 91 bus stops- C and E- going in opposite directions. I make a mental note to wait at C next time.

Day 3

In an attempt to save some cash, I catch the bus this morning. I settle down, waiting to be taken to Euston station. Suddenly at King's Cross, the bus driver calls out 'all change, all change!' I ask the bus driver why he's suddenly cutting his route short. "Look ahead," he tells me, "it's King's Cross." "Yes I know that!" I exclaim. "Just wait for the next bus," he says, and drives off. A random man turns to me and says with an evil grin, "Oh, if you don't have a travel card or an Oyster card, you gonna have to pay again!" Thankfully, the next bus driver accepts my receipt, and I don't have to pay again. I decide to get an Oyster card all the same, which is easier said than done. Having read all the leaflets the tube station has to offer on the subject of Oyster cards, I finally understand what type of Oyster card I need, and where to get it.

Day 4

When I get on the bus this morning, I reach past the lady infront who is searching for change and beep my Oyster card on the touch pad like everyone else. Now I feel truly christened as a Londoner.

Day 5

I arrive at the end of my first working week in London, and I am exhausted. Yet, at the same time, I feel strangely knowledgeable. Whilst I may not quite be a true Londoner- I have yet to pick up the accent- I am no longer a tourist fumbling for change or staring at a tube map for 5 minutes before understanding where to go.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Unintentional eavesdropping...

Whilst waiting for the train at an almost empty platform, it was impossible not to overhear the conversation of the two women next to me.

W1: Ooh, new shoes?
W2: Mmm, yeah. But I don't like the strap- I'm gonna cut it off.
W1 (shocked): No, don't!
W2: Yeah, I will. I really don't like it.
W1: Where are they from?
W2: Mullets. The straps cut into your feet and they look awful, like ankle straps. You know ankle straps on shoes make your legs look shorter- as if your legs end at your ankles.
W1: Yeah, I suppose. Well, I don't know.
W2: And I need all the height I can get to balance out the weight.
After a few seconds of silence...
W2: I've been looking into some dog agility classes for Winnie. I think he just needs some stimulation. I'm taking him to the Bushey centre. You know, they make him do all sorts of exercises and run through tunnels and things. It's just a bit more competitive. You interested for Sparkey?
W1: Well, I don't know. I don't think he'd be obedient enough. He'd just go running off with all the other dogs.

At this point, the train arrived and I was left to silently grieve the fact that we now have dog agility classes.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Reflection on Life

Life's Just a Ride...

"The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, 'Hey - don't worry, don't be afraid ever, because this is just a ride ...' And we kill those people. Ha ha, 'Shut him up. We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real.'

It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter, because - it's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want.It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.

Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

-Bill Hicks