Archives for the month of: October, 2012

Image

This is the first ever blog post I wrote, dug out from a dormant (oh ok then, dead and buried) blog which was started when I first moved to London. I’ve been here nearly 2 years now, and I recently realised I’ve become the begrudging Londoner I hoped never to be.

Reading this helped to remind me of the joyful/idiotic optimism I once had:

After years of waiting, I am no longer a virgin. Aged 23 and three-quarters. Stop your sniggering. I don’t mean of the ‘sexually-challenged-late-to-achieve-puberty-nervous-wreck-when-I-talk-to-boys’ sort, or even the ‘greater-entity-worshipping-bible-abiding-unsuprisingly-young-to-wed’ type. Rather, a ‘commute-to-work-on-the-tube-with-a-generic-morning-paper-and-a-generic-brand-polystyrene-cup-of-coffee’ virgin, which thankfully justifies the fact that my deflowering occurred fully clothed at 8am in a crowded public place. Yes, as you quite possibly already suspect, I am one of those annoying “Yeah, like, I totally live in Laaaaandan, and I’m just so TRENDY with my Oyster card and….OH EM GEE! There’s Big Ben!” big smoke newbies. I’m sure you all know one. They’re the type of irritating people who say ‘big smoke’.          

If you’re a London native you may be reading this with a smug, eyebrow-raised, Jafar-like (yes, he of Aladdin fame) smirk on your face. Firstly, wipe it off – you look daft. Secondly, you should be incredibly jealous of my (albeit naive) sunny outlook on city life. ‘Why? You incredulous fool!’, I hear you guffaw. Well, it basically boils down to this: I actually ENJOY the commute. I take mildly sadistic pleasure in playing tug’o’war with elderly ladies for the last Metro (FYI, other reading materials are available of an A.M), successfully swiping my Oyster through the barrier (on the fourth attempt. No, I do not want to seek assistance, but thanks for asking so LOUDLY and ANGRILY), legging it towards the incessant chirping of a closing tube door and throwing myself whole-heartedly into the armpit of a middle-aged IT worker with a phobia of Imperial Leather. Ooooh tingles.

After emerging from the depths of the tube station (being sure to keep to the left, to the left, for fear of an excruciating and untimely death) and shielding my eyes from the blazing su….. No no, silly me. Wrong country…shielding my eyes as the wind blows grit horizontally along the pavement, I stop and watch as my fellow tubers scuttle off to work, clouded in a mist of oblivion. I, however, am still SO unashamedly goddamn excited about living and working in London that every sight offers up pure, unadulterated photoreceptor joy.

I got a bit giddy the other day as I walked along the side of the Thames, and took some perspective on It All. Zooming out to the bigger picture every now and again is a pretty healthy thing to do (not clinically proven but I’m going with it). It suddenly makes all the stupid stresses over soggy ballet pumps and weather-induced frizz evaporate. And I’m grateful for the fact that this incredible city still allows me this delight, and I haven’t yet been worn down into a desensitised drone. No offence.

So I implore you, as you navigate your way through underground tunnels with unseeing eyes and weave through the masses with the trained agility of a ninja, take ONE SECOND out of your determined, unblinkered scurry towards the nearest Starbucks and just STOP. 

Please.

And take It All in.

Barcelona; Gaudi;

I was told two things repeatedly when I mentioned I was going on a mini-break to Barcelona: It’s the best city in the world, and you WILL be pickpocketed.

Right.

For a moment I was confused. Is pickpocketing all part of the phenomenal life experience that Barcelona offers, thus helping to boost its ‘totally-most-awesome-city-ever’ reputation? Is it the delight of having someone deftly slide their hand into your pocket/handbag/bumbag which helps the Spanish city supersede all others?
I realised that however enjoyable it may be to come into such close physical contact with a deceptive street artist (although I’ve seen said street artists, and Enrique Iglesias they are not), these two statements are actually mutually exclusive. Thus meaning that Barcelona must be one AWESOME city if it has to deduct the annoyance of losing the €500, the passport, and the iPod you were stupidly carrying around with you all at the same time from its ‘Best City Ever’ score.

And they were right.

Not about the theft thingy, thank goodness (a healthy dose of paranoia helped me keep one hand on my bag at all times) but about what an incredible place Barcelona is. 25 degrees in early October lent itself nicely to bike rides up and down (mainly down) the cycle-friendly streets, strolling along the beach, and sleeping off the worst hangover in history on a patch of grass near a busy roundabout. The city is relaxed yet cosmopolitan, bustling but no sign of the dreaded ‘rat race’, and thanks to a shed-load of money pumped in from the ’92 Olympics it’s in top nick too. Oh and some mad bloke called Gaudi built some stuff there. You ought to take a look.

If you’re a glutten like me (that’s a greedy person, not a wheat-intolerant person) you’ll be thrilled by the array of eateries and drinkeries lining the streets, particularly in the Gothic Quarter. For a special occasion or a touch of the unusual, make a booking at Tintoreria Dontell. That’s all I’m saying on the matter (for fear of death). There’s plenty of little boutiquey shops dotted around too, where you can buy things such as denture-shaped ice cube trays and other such wonderfully quirky tat.

Finally, to cap off my Barcelona lyrical-waxing, if you find yourself with a thirst and fancy getting so obscenely drunk that the roundabout thing happens to you too, then you want to take yourself to the enormity that is ‘Razzmatazz’ – the club with 5 rooms built in an old aeroplane hangar or warehouse or something else really cavernous (but not necessarily a cavern). Muchos fun-times can be had here, as they say in Spanish, but it might be worth indulging in the old-age adage of ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’ every now and again.

Seriously, the roundabout thing was one of the lowest moments of my life.