So jet lag is a bitch because I still find myself wide awake at 3 in the morning, and then dragging myself through the day. Because of a terrible night of not-sleeping, I finally got my ass out of the house at 3.oopm. I grabbed my laptop and went to Pret-a-Manger in South Kensington and worked on the computer for a couple hours and had a great All Day Breakfast sandwich. I then decided I wanted to swing by HMV to get some DVDs for my room because I didn’t have a television. From South Kensington, I decided to walk toward HMV which is in Oxford Circus. My partner was with me (after coming back from a hair dryer shopping spree at the local Boots) and we made our way through Hyde Park, by the Serpentine. It was a gorgeous day and the weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.
After walking through some streets we got a bit turned around and lost, until we just sorta…bungled our way onto Oxford Circus. The crowds were out tonight and it was crazy but fun. It’s great to walk through a truly global city like London and hear all kinds of languages being spoken throughout the street – this is what the world should be: lots of different cultures mixing together in some crazy haphazard way.
HMV was great but we slid into the place a half hour before it closes. I loved the place and the TV Comedy aisle had all my favorites. But budgetary matters had me restrain myself and I got two DVDs: the complete set of A Thin Blue Line with Rowan Atkinson and the first season of Arthur, a brilliant children’s show I love to watch.
We then walked around looking for a place to eat and stumbled on Bella Italia, because there was a chalk board advertising a two-course dinner for £10. I had pasta with a tomato sauce and chilies and two bottles of fizzy juice – one flavored with grape, the other apple – they were called Grapetiser and Appletiser, respectively. The Grapetiser tasted a bit of Maneschewitz without the alcohol, while the Appletiser tasted like melted-down green apple Jolly Ranger – they were really nice. I’m still getting use to the fact the folks here don’t like their drinks ice cold and am starting to get used to drinking my drinks lukewarm.
At Bella Italia, we sat close to a table of rambunctious diners – one who was so loud and excited that her cries of joy and mirth sounded like screams for help. I looked up a few times to make sure that she was alright and not in the throes of some kind of fit. The couple next to our table was a young Italian man and his Asian-American girlfriend, who was regaling him with a tale of how she and some girlfriends got hosed at an Italian restaurant in Genova by ordering a fish dinner, not asking for the price, and the having to fork over €100 for the meal.
After dinner, we hopped on the train to go back to our working class neighborhood of Newham. I’m not a snob, and I think or neighborhood’s great, but I get pangs of “oh, sigh” when we have to leave lovely Westminster for Newham. Still, I’m in London.
When we got to Upton Park, we ran to Tesco’s for some snacks. I love this Tesco’s because like the neighborhood it’s a bit down at the heel. The staff members working at 11.00pm look like they’re all just over it. Because Newham is so ethnically diverse, there was a “world” section that included a variety of Polish foods, I remember eating in Polish Brighton Park in Chicago.
We made our way back home and the Italians in our flat were conspicuously quiet. I was concerned that they left. Yeah, they were loud and their dance music was horrendous, but they gave the place a sense of security. It was nice hearing them in the background, being loud and passionate about everything. We initially thought that they all went back home to Italy, but after a few moments, doors opened and voices carried throughout the house and all was well.
Hopefully tomorrow, we’ll be able to go to the Victoria & Albert Museum. There’s an exhibit about mammoths right now. Mammoths are interesting and on the train ride back my partner and I were discussing an article I read about bringing mammoths back to life my injecting mammoth DNA from the discovered carcasses into the womb of an elephant. I thought about why anyone would want to bring back a prehistoric animal back to life – what would be the point, besides the cool factor? Hopefully all my questions will be answered when I’m at the V&A tomorrow.
Oh, and by the way, there’s a quaint custom of getting a free London Evening Standard for your train ride, and it’s this really trashy tabloid. The crisis in Iraq is dominating the news, and though London Evening Standard is covering it, they still made time to show a picture of David Beckham in his underwear.
I also am hoping to go to the theatre – Kathleen Turner is in a play here in the West End. I saw her years ago in the West End production of The Graduate and she made a formidable Mrs. Robinson. From the posters it looks like she’s got her illness under control and she looks good, so I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to watch her live.
See my pics below: