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Saturday

I’m in East London, in Shoreditch. I’m at a restauraunt/pub called the Electric Showroom which I really like. It’s laid back this time of day, big windows to look out, good tunes, a lovely place for writing and having a drink or two. It’s a clear but cold day. I’ve been sick for days now but today it’s really gotten on top of me. The chest thing is still there but now I’ve got the runny nose bit as well. I’m annoyed but not surprised I’m sick. It’s gross to think of how many millions of people have touched the rail before me on the tube and it’s not like I can wash my hand when I order a take-away and end up eating, say on the footsteps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It just sucks that I’m sick and on the rag on my holiday so I’m just physically “blech” all around. I want a day in bed with cold medicine, pizza, ice cream and like a Dr Who marathon but that would be a waste of a day on holiday in this huge city. Instead I’m in Shoreditch the artsy part of town. As you can imagine the boys in this neighborhood are particularly eye candy for me. It was kind of a dead when I got here around noon but the foot traffic seems a bit heavier now. I’m probably going to go on the East London Art Walk at 3. That is if I can muster up the ambition to leave this pub. It’s warm, the msic is excellent and I’m practicing my “writer by the window” look. It’s 2:30 now so there’s only a couple hours of daylight left so I better take off after this drink to get some pictures in at least. There will be other pubs, Mir.

Later…

At another pub. The place with the art walk doesn’t appear to exist any more. Damn you internet, why must you lie to me!! But it’s all good. I found another pub, the Bricklayer’s Arms. I’m so out of it I don’t have anything to say, really. I like the pubs at this hour, nice and laid back with plenty of seating. The illness is draining me! “I’m thinking of having my whole body surgically removed.” (Quote from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.) Actually quotes from British comedy come to mind easily here. When I got off at Elephant and Castle the announcement made me think of the Boosh “All Change please for Paperclip Castle” (probably as that’s where the joke comes from. Mighty Boosh, Black Books and Dr who thing tend to come to mind. Dr. who comes to mind quite often, I saw council flats in North London that where I liked to think Rose Tyler lived. Sigh all my English friends are fictional.

Apparently it’s Write a novel month in which one is supposed to write x number of words every day and produce a 50,000 word novel and you get a patch or something. I didn’t know about this ntil Thursday and even if I knew about it I’m a bit pre-occupied at the moment. I haven’t written anything other than this silly, crappy travel log since I’ve been here. I think about how to rewrite my essay to Goldsmith’s but I haven’t gotten anything down on paper as of yet.

Now at a pub on Kingsland Rd called The Spread Eagle (tee hee).’Wild Horses’ is playing and this bar has a very cool, almost dungen-like window seat along with a a bunch of mis-matched garish furniture. Being in Arty East London makes me think of my pretty much abandoned Hero & Knight stories. Lesson learned about setting a story in a place you’ve never been. Now that I’m here I find myself re-writing bits in my head, plotting where things should be and details that should be fixed. It’s almost tempting to go back and fix these thing or rewrite a story or two even though I’m aware that it’s really a piece of writing that must die for me to grow up as a writer. (The hero & Knight short stories were stories I wrote in high school and college but I’ve abandoned them pretty much when I realized that it was everything you’re really not supposed to do. A glorified version of my myself living a dream version of life I would kill for…but it’s a tragedy! I know, terrible. But the characters have been in my head for so long it’s hard to let them go. Even though I don’t write about them any more I still think about them and they still grow with me.) Now where was I before I got on that tangent. Oh yes East London. So this being the arty bit, this would have been where those stories would be at least partially set. It’s amazing who wrong I got it. They were living in like a New York style tower apartment instead of flats. In fact some to think of all those details I got wrong, you’d think I’d known nothing of the culture. Terrible!

Monday

The sun is starting to set on my final day in London. I’m back in Camden, back at the Elephant Head on the High Street. I’ve got a shit ton of shopping beside me, I have no idea how I’m going to get it all home with me. The thought of going home leaves me with a heavy heart. I like ti here and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. But the thought that there’s a possibility that I’ll be back next fall as a student is reassuring. I’m having a hard time writing on account of the fact that I’m too distracted watching people walk up and down the high street. At the Oxford Arms now in the beer garden and can no longer see the high street so maybe it’ll actually get to the task at hand and write about my night in Shoreditch. When I last wrote I was at a bar called The Spread Eagle. I went out for a cigarette and just as I was about to go back in, this group that was in there, artist-types, two guys and a gril, came out and actually started talking to me! One guy was older, “zed” as I was introduced, there was another guy with a silly had and a kind of punkish/arty blonde woman. They actually introduced themselves and invited me to join them at their table when it got too cold to smoke. When they asked where I was from and I told them “Seattle” they weren’t unimpressed. Infact they said, “that’s like the second best music city in the states isn’t it, after New York?” I’ll take that. Zed asked me to post a letter when I got to the states and I promised I would. The lady pulled out these tarot card type thing and I got the best of the bunch—probably because I was traveling. The Zed guy gave the other two some drugs and soon after they wanted to bounce and I was invited to come along to the guy with the silly hat’s flat which was nearby. I was on my guard, of course, but I was so up for some unique traveling experience and willing to go where the wind took me. I was also, quite sober so I figured I could make a move if need be. This guy’s flat was not huge but impressive for a London flat. Definitely a party flat. The front room had a kind of skate-board-park kind of built in furnishing. The ‘dining area’ had a drum kit and such set up. The closets in the corridor was just filled with over a hundred pairs of shoes. They guy and the girl got kinda quiet and stand offish once we got there, though. (I found out later the drugs they took were tranquilizers or valium or something of the like.) So then the Zed guy and I kind of made a move and I ended up in his council flat (like the polar opposite of the previous flat.) It was kind of weird and I was on my guard but nothing was going to happen. I was not interested in anything other than conversation. (Even if he wasn’t a kind of weirdo upper 40 something artist and was instead a dreamy hipster artist boy, I was out of commission but that was not even in the cards for this dude.) We talked about art and writing and the city. He was, actually, a published writer a few times over, and he gave me one of his books, but it looks just pretty weird. With his illustrations it brings at first to mind Hunter S Thompson bt I’ll have to read it and see. I liked his art, though. Eventually, when the wine was gone, we made our way out to the pub where I felt more comfortable but he seemed more ill at ease. (I bought the drinks since he’s a starving artist living in a council flat, so I don’t see what the problem was). Shook hands and I got back in a taxi back to Bayswatter. An interesting night. Oh yeah and I found out that the bloke whose fancy flat we were in earlier is actually a “somebody” in the artist/fashion scene of East London. Of course, after finding out this info, I couldn’t remember his name. Just my luck, right? It does explain that groovy digs and the seemingly abnormal number of very colorful shoes. It was not the night I was expecting when I went out to Shoreditch, but even as kind of weird as it was, it was better than what I figured would happen, just bar hop and eavesdrop. So much better.

The funny thing about traveling is that I can spend one night in East London hanging out with artists and the next day I’m shopping on Oxford Street loading up on books, CDs and DVDs and being a complete consumer whore! The sickness was really getting the better of me. I spent the whole morning in bed at the hotel watching on BBC 1 the Rememberence Sunday Ceremony that was taking place in Westminster. The night of chain smoking with artists didn’t really help my caugh and I was really cold when I got out from under the covers. So I just lied in bed, saw the Queen come out of her castle for the ceremony. (“Heellllooooo!”) Not that I would get as close as that but I’d say it’s a good thing I watched it from telly where I could go “Heeeelllloooo” when the Queen came up, without spoiling a somber event. Eventually I got bored, found myself falling asleep and decided to embrace the cold air and go out. I went to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. There was a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian all shouting that day. All religious nonsense, nothing political. I wasn’t sure if that’s the norm lately or if on account of the solemnity of the holiday people left politics out. I did find it odd the three religions were out in force—ya know just in case you hadn’t decided on which one was for you yet. I like to think that they all went out for a beer together afterward fro two reasons 1) that would be the civilized thing to do in my humble opinion and 2) because that’s the opening of a joke right there, “A Muslim, a Jew and a Christian walk into a bar…” I’m sure that doesn’t happen, though. How disappointing. After that, I walked up Oxford street to find a book shop and a DVD store. I found a book shop first and got a punk short fiction book, a BBC radio series of Stephen Fry talking about language. (Sounds pompous like he’s become that character he played on A Bit of Fry and Laurie but it will also probably be interesting, funny and well written.) Also got The Mighty Book of Boosh, which makes me smile many times over with every page. If only I could find Noel Fielding on my last day (Perhaps subconsciously that’s why I plotted myself in Camden this evening.) Then I found a CD/DVD store. It was well obnoxious in there but I took my time picking up what I can’t get at home (and is on my Amazon.uk wishlist) Got AD/BC, Blackpool, Brass Eye, Green Wing, The Boat the Rocked, and a Charlie Broaker book. I was disappointed, however to find there wasn’t a stand up section so I wasn’t able to get the Dylan Moran or Bill Bailiey that I wanted. I also had to avoid the temptation to get things I could get at home in Region 1. I can’t push my little lap top too far and require it to play the majority of my DVD collection. That’s just not fair. Anyway enough product placement for British telly/comedy. After dropping off my booty at the hotel I went out for Chinese food in Bayswatter. The experience wasn’t pleasant but wong ton soup (any soup really when you’re sick) was lovely. I haven’t had that stuff in years. After dinner I went back to the hotel and wasted an evening in bed with the telly. I know my friends will be disgusted with this but I don’t feel as bad about it as I should because for one I wasn’t feeling well at all and wanted a rest before my last day out and I’m obviously a little obsessed with British telly and I wanted to see how it was when one could not pick and choose what shows to watch and just…saw what was on. (I go on to talk about the three shows I watched for way too long and I don’t feel like typing that.) So yeah, that was 3 hours in bed watching tv while on my holiday in London but, whatever. It’s hard to go go go after 11 days. Okay so I did 3 weeks in France, but technically we were given some “down time” in Provonce and I was younger then and it was August, not November, so I didn’t get sick. I know what you’re saying “stop making excuses. You just wanted to watch telly.”

Later

So here I am back in Bayswater having another drink before I have to go back and figure out how I’m going to get all this shit I bought to all fit in my luggage. I guess I never got around to saying how I spent my last day. I got up well early at 7. It was a rather sleepless night on account of having anxiety about my last day and some asshole was listening to a football game at full blast at 3 or 4 in the morning. I haven’t been liking my neighbors as of late.

I took to the continental brecky one last time then went out to collect my shit and head out for the day. I got my quad mocha and walked through the middle bit of Hyde Park that I hadn’t seen yet. I think I’ll miss that a lot, starting my mornings with a jumpstart of warm coffee and a brisk autumn walk in Hyde Park, taking in the fall sights and smells. Look at me getting all nostalgic for a place I haven’t left yet. Then again I’ve been all preemptively nostalgic all day. I went through South Kensington, saw Harrods and eventually got down into Chelsea (cheated and hopped the tube for one stop though). I went to Chelsea because I realized I hand’t been there yet and I have the name of the street the Oscar Wilde lived on so I wanted to see that. I also got some pics of that factory in South Lonond from across the river. After getting to see Oscar Wilde’s house, I walked p along the Themes but really between Chelsea and Westminster there really wasn’t anything particularly remarkable. However, the tide was crazy low on the Themes. I saw some previously seen territory, Westminster, Embankment, Fleet Street. I found a shop that had all these Dr Who toys, where I looked but went on my merry way. I went to see the 30 St. Mary Axe Building from up close, because I think it’s a neat looking building (the one that looks like a bomb). Incidentally I I saw an antiquainted Police call box along the way wich I had to take a picture of. Then I headed back to Camden took out some money and proceeded to empty my wallet, buying more gifts for the folks at home and for myself as well.) I wrote for a bit at the Elephant Head, eventually going to the Oxford Arms after the view out the window at the Elephant Head proved too distracting. After the Oxford Arms I headed back to Bayswater. This town does exhaust me. I kept falling asleep on the tube. Now I’m at a pub I haven’t tried tha’ts is On Bayswatter. I’m trying to stay out as late as I can before I have to go back to the hotel and pack. Such a sad thought, to leave here. For a while, when the sickness had really gotten ontop of me I was done and just wanted to be at home but after having a day of rest and feeling better (though not 100% by a long shot) I don’t want to go home yet.

As I said, I think I only scratched the surface of this enormous metropolis. Even if I end p in Aberdeen, I’ll get back here for sure. Ultimately the trip was successful in fulfilling it’s putpose. First of all visiting the schools to see what was right more me I think was a priceless decision. Secondly, this trip was a test for myself to see if I can make it all by my lonely in such a huge city. It wasn’t easy, the isolation bit got to me a lot. I gues I’m not as extroverted as I thought I had become in recent years, especially when taken out of my element (if you can call being in my own city and trashed enough to get over in inhabitions and meet new people/hit on boys as being in my “element.” There’s a fine line between in the “element” and being a little pathetic.) I’ve thought of so many possible reasons for the isolation; a product of not being able to have enough drink, or maybe it was a product of just being a bit more guarded, or maybe because no one has a reason to talk to the American tourist, or because I’m not cute enough ot because I’ve been told I have a standoffish “snobby” presence about me (something that always goes over my head). But at the same time I can’t completely complain. Not at all! I’ve had moments of grace where I met people, particularly when I said “fuck sitting alone” and went up to those people who ended up being staff at Goldsmith’s. My night in East London could have been seen as being a cool “go with the flow” or completely fucking foolish move, depending on what your relationship with me is. I think it was cool but it would have been foolish if I was more under the influence. (If I met those people at the Dunnes or Rosebud or Merc, it’s would have been a bad idea.) So in that case hazah for for the high Staley tolerance gene. Then there was the night out with Travis, though that was a bit different because it was pre-arranged, but everyone that night was very friendly. So that is to say, though it wasn’t as easy as I had expected, I wasn’t completely starved for conversation. I even met some cool people, just in smaller doeses than I had imagined. I think I passed the test in that I got here (granted I still have to get back which causes me a considerable anxiety but that’s normal.) Once here, I got around brilliantly. I took to the tube like a duck to water. I tended to get a bit lost when I wandered off the High Streets, although later in the trip I’ve been more comfortable in wandering off the High Streets and finding my way back to a tube station or a High Street even if it meant swallowing my pride and referring to a map. My sense of direction is actually quite good here as far as which direction is North, South, East, West. I’ve figured out which markers in the skyline help me depending on where I am.

So I think I passed the test. Maybe not with flying colors but I didn’t know what to expect and I would obviously get better with more time, say if I lived here…which I really want to.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
dan10things
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
Loving the stories! I think I came down with my cold about the same time you did yours, sucks! I totally should have hooked you up with my friends Ean and Rebecca who live in London while you were there, they used to live in Seattle but moved there for Ean to go to Oxford.

Many DVD players can be made region free with some sorta number code, it's a built in hack. If you get your brand and model number, I can check and find out.
pandapropaganda
Nov. 16th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
To go to Oxford, really? Wow. Fancy!

Being sick on holiday sucks. :(

I've heard you can make them region free, I've never tried with my DVD. Just switched my laptop to region 2, the picture on my laptop is actually well better than my old analoge TV anyway. Though good to know if anything happens to my laptop.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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