So, I've just returned from an extended weekend in London. When I left here, it was cold and rainy... like a fore-warning of what was to come. The trip was kinda unplanned and unscheduled but I had to tend to an important matter at Inland Revenue before the end of May. And due to a recent unfortunate incident, I had to officially close my bank account in the UK, which I decided to do in person.
And so I stepped off the plane on Friday morning and got down to business. And once that was done, I had time to visit old friends and do some shopping. Here are some highlights, my thoughts and conclusions from the past few days:
1. I don’t know what it is with British females and hotpants / shorts in winter. I mean it’s like FREEZING and they’re barely wearing anything. I on the other hand, was dressed like an Eskimo, sporting thermal underwear, four jerseys, tights and a tracksuit pants under my usual clothing... topped off with a huge coat and a scarf on the first two days. But by the third day I had acclimatised and went back to donning the normal one layer of clothing.
2. The first thing I buy when I’m in the UK is St. Ives Blemish Control Face Scrub. Since this isn’t available in South Africa, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona or Switzerland – and I know because I had Mother, an aunt and an uncle traipse up and down Europe looking for it – it makes it the most expensive face scrub in the world and the most expensive thing I own:
3. One of the friends I met up with was my good old friend slash ex-landlord Donovan, who is now married with two kids. He spent most of the time complaining about domestic bliss*, before adding that he wouldn’t give it up for the world, hence confirming my belief that most guys genuinely enjoy being miserable.
4. I've heard the term European Debt Crisis thrown around a lot on the news in the last year. All I have to say is: what crisis? It seemed like the entire Europe (Spain and Italy in particular) was on holiday in London this past weekend.
5. Speaking of tourists, there’s something annoying about how none of them follow rules. For instance, keep left doesn’t mean please stand in the middle of the pathway and have a long conversation with your friends while 15 000 other people wait to pass through.
6. I've found that it doesn't hurt to have a beverage named after you. Britain, I am honoured:
7. It must be awesome to be a Tube (train) Driver. I can’t imagine it being physically, mentally or emotionally taxing to tell everyone to stand clear of the doors or to mind that gap. And it looks a little like riding your own roller-coaster. I wonder why I never thought of that before.
8. Speaking of the tube - and this is why I love London - I had this guy in pink tights and a pink tutu come and sit next to me one evening. It was obviously either his stag or a dare, but great fun to witness anyway:
9. There are some people in London who make their living by being Professional Protesters. I reckon they’ve got nothing on South African protesters who usually come fully prepared with vendors amongst the masses selling everything from hot food to ice cream as well as trucks loaded with mega sound systems with various soundtracks to aid their war cries and spectacular dance routines to boot. It's like Rio's Carnival with placards. But South African protesters aren't paid for their troubles and I can’t help but envy London's Professional Protesters in their vocations.
10. Big ups to the staff at British Airways who damn near molested me at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 with their manhandling and frisking tactics and then handed me not one, but TWO stainless steel knives while serving dinner onboard.
11. After going through all the trouble of acclimatising and walking around like a penguin, I returned to a very warm 28⁰ Degree Celsius Johannesburg, and proceeded to melt in my clothes. Ah global warming...
12. And in all seriousness... I have an O2 Sim Card that’s worth ₤10 to give away. It has ₤7.50 airtime credit on it remaining and I’d honestly rather give it away to someone who could use it than have it rot away in my cupboard. So if you are in the UK or if you are going to the UK, or if you know anyone going to the UK anytime soon and would like this freebie worth ₤17.50, please email me your details and I’ll mail it to you free of charge, absolutely gratis:
Many other things happened and many other observations made... like noticing that Notting Hill Gate is the only station that has absolutely no advertising... a chance meeting with a lonely, lovely Lithuanian girl who obviously felt comfortable enough to tell me her whole life story in the 30 minutes we spent together... meeting old friends and colleagues... eating at all my favourite spots... and walking for 12 hours a day on every single day...
*Donovan’s story used with his permission.