Monthly Archives: November 2006

Where the Boys Are to Be Avoided

S arrived in London on the 17th, and adventures commenced that very night. The first took place at a pub called Waxy’s Little Sister, and could be called the Adventure of the Singing Midlander and His Drunken Middle Aged Daughter. It was surpassed by its sequel, the Curious Incident of the Men in Matching Shirts and Their Pal with Ming the Merciless Facial Hair, which went as follows:

Matching Shirt 1 eyes S while MS2 stands back and watches as Pointy Beard scampers around the bar.

I, creeped out by the lot of them, declare, “If Matching Shirt Guy comes over here I’m sticking my tongue in your mouth.”

S laughs so hard she has to put her head down on the bar. MS1 assumes this means she is totally smashed and decides it’s time to make his move (ooh, classy). I consider making good on my threat, but S is still face-down on the bar, laughing. Also, it would probably just encourage him.

Then begin many minutes of MS1 trying to convince S to go with him to the bathroom (again: classy!) while Pointy Beard darts in and out of the conversation and MS2 watches, watches. Note that there is no menace among them, just an enduring air of sleaze.

Then we left.

The next day started civilly enough at the British Museum, and ended civilly, too, because the man at the pub by Tower Bridge was a gent compared to the Creepy Trio. After a polite if disjointed conversation that included Al Capone, the Krays, and Elvis, he asked which part of London I worked in. I told him, and he confessed that he went there Wednesday lunchtimes to check out the women (apparently he has a rotation around London, different areas on different days). Somehow this confession was refreshing, and not gross. But maybe that was just relative to the previous night.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday was theatre, theatre, theatre. We saw Caroline, Or the Change, the new Tony Kushner play; Kevin Spacey in Moon for the Misbegotten; and Wicked. Wicked was good (heh), but I had more fun at Spamalot last month. Caroline was better, but didn’t live up to the hype I’d been exposed to. Moon for the Misbegotten was great, and Mr. Spacey did a damn fine job of not overpowering the rest of the cast, mostly because they — Eve Best as Josie and Colm Meaney (yes, Star Trek fans, that Colm Meaney) as her father — were damn fine themselves.

This is perhaps a good time to mention the invention of the Eugene O’Neill Play Drinking Game, wherein when a character takes a drink, you take a drink. This would yield a mere mild buzz in the first act of the performance of Moon we saw, but the second act yields alcohol poisoning (and would cost, like, a thousand dollars if you were buying your bourbon at the Old Vic bar).

Thursday morning we went to Paris. Via Luton, because I thought that was the small airport twenty minutes from my apartment by DLR. It isn’t. It really, really isn’t. Fate will be cruel indeed if it ever makes me go through Luton again. But at least now I know the locations of all five London area airports, as well as their relative pain-in-the-ass-ness. London to Paris via Luton was relatively inexpensive, but took four and a half hours of travel time.

Why didn’t we take the train, at a convenient two and a half hours? The equivalent of $500 per ticket, that’s why.

Paris, however…ahhhh. It was my first visit, a short visit, and additional visits will be required. We stayed near St-Michel Notre-Dame, and did our Thursday wandering in the Latin Quarter. On Friday we went to Montmartre and climbed up to Sacré Coeur for the view. Happy sigh.

But back to the title of this post:

On Friday the young waiter who served us lunch brought complimentary drinks at the end of the meal, then got all weird and shy. The even younger waiter at dinner should have gotten weird and shy, but didn’t. He followed me into the bathroom and asked for a kiss. Seriously, Men of Europe, I ask you: what is it with bathrooms? Then he did the same to S. Then he gave us each one of his glossy black business cards featuring his name followed by a trademark symbol.*

Then we left.

Then, already delayed, we got on the wrong train, and by the time we figured it out we were almost certainly beyond any hope of getting to the airport on time.

The next flight was at 9:45 a.m., and because this princess will not be sleeping in the airport while she has a credit card tucked in her tiara, I marched right to the nearest cheap airport hotel and got us a room. And that was where we encountered the aforementioned Richard Burton movie, which I now strongly suspect to be Bluebeard.

And now you know what I’ve been up to.

This week will be devoted to getting my flat in order (including further attempts at internet access) and writing. E is working in Dublin this week, and I’m headed over to visit him on Friday night. Two weeks after that I’m spending a couple of days in Marrakech because, well, because I can. And I will take notes for the pupae-stage Mayfly novel while I’m there, as I’ll be doing in Dublin…although setting a catastrophic food shortage in Dublin might be laying the historical resonances on a bit thick. But that remains to be seen.

* M and I discussed the idea of him calling M. Bains, claiming he found the card in my purse and flying into a jealous, threatening rage. That’d learn ‘im.

A Quick One Before the Café Closes

Still no internet access at home…no wonder I have the shakes.

I’m on my way home to write an honest-to-goodness post and not just a little postlet, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with something that occurred to me after a scene from a still-unindentified Richard Burton film:

Is there such a thing as necroplatonia? Like, you know, if you really enjoy hanging out with the dead, but you’re “just not attracted to them in that way”?

My Daily Scenery, Coming Eventually to a Theatre Near You

So this is filming in my apartment building now. They’ve been in a flat upstairs for a couple of days, and so far the only manifestations have been signs apologizing for the unseen film crew, and an elevator so covered in black masking and gaff tape that riding in it is like being in a trashy goth club with the lights on.

But apparently they’re headed to the lobby today, so perhaps I will be able to gawp at Hank Azaria while pretending to retrieve some non-existent mail. Simon Pegg is cool and all, but I’ve had a crush on HA forever.

The Goings On

My relations with the ol’ internets are a little shaky right now. Yes, I neglected their vast pipe-y goodness when I was in Seattle in late October, but that’s because I was running around like crazy trying to get ready for No Really, You’re Going to Live in London – This Is Not a Drill. I was less anxious than the first run, but there was also more to do. Something had to give…sorry, Net. I still love you.

Then I got to London, and immediately went into Must…Find…Flat mode. That took two weeks of much ugliness, and I knew if I sent any kind of communication out into the world, several people would send rescue parties. And I didn’t want to be rescued, I just wanted to find a flat that wasn’t soul-sucking shabby beige with only one “stylish” element: a frosted zebra-patterned mirror that was, ladies and gentlemen, a portal to the 80s. Seriously. I stuck my arm through and pulled it back out with a Swatch strapped to my wrist.

Then I found the Flat That Made Me Very Happy. So now I’m very happy, albeit without internet access at home. The degree of complication involved in getting broadband set up is, well, extreme. And it involves dealing with BT (British Telephone, or, as I like to call them, Central Services), which…okay, imagine your worst customer service experience ever. I mean the one that went on and on and all the while your temples were literally throbbing with frustration (okay, throbbing with high blood pressure caused by frustration). Now suppose that someone in the company decided that the way to deal with execrable customer service was to make the agents ask customers every step of the way, “Is that okay, Madam?” and to not advance the conversation until the customer agreed that the horribly unhelpful suggestion of the agent was indeed okay.

It ends up sounding something like this:

AGENT: I’m going to express disbelief in the validity of your complaint, and then I’m going to repeat the irrelevant advice I’ve already given you four times. Also, I’m going to be both condescending and insincerely solicitous. Is that okay, Madam?

ME: No, that’s not okay.

AGENT: I see. In that case I’m going to be even more condescending and insincerely solicitous as I reiterate my disbelief in the validity of your complaint, and after that, if you agree, I will repeat the irrelevant advice I’ve already given you four times. Is that okay, Madam?

Decline. Repeat for twenty minutes.

ME: The fact that I’m hanging up now should not be construed as my consent that this is in any way okay.

Note that I only managed to last twenty minutes by spending much of it inside an elaborate Brazil-like fantasy in which a rogue installer swept into my flat and flipped a hidden golden switch that provided instant, fast, and uncomplicated internet access.

Until my Harry Tuttle arrives, I’ll be accessing the internet sporadically at cafés. Sorry if I owe you e-mail.

Also, today I was exposed to an American so WASPy he couldn’t even say ‘schtick’. Really. It came out as ‘stick’. I kid you not.