I was intending to blog all through my travels, but they’re very suddenly at an end and it would appear that I have largely forgotten to bother to get around to it. I was probably, you know, like, actually doing the research I came over here to do or something. I’m currently in a hotel and Heathrow, flying home stupidly early tomorrow morning and I’m really quite sad to be leaving. I suppose these can be my Grand-England-Adventure Bookend-Blogs.
One of the highlights of travelling this part of the world is the diversity of language. Everyone is speaking English, but they all seem to be doing it without really consulting each other.
I spent about a week in Ireland (saw, not deliberately, but by chance, many of the places from which my convict ((and occasionally non-convict)) ancestors came. Incidentally, that thing British people do where they make jokes about how I must be a criminal? Very original. I’ve only heard it like, fourteen times this trip. Also I definitely ride a kangaroo. However, if you talk to me about shrimps on barbies I’ll set my drop-bears on you lot. They’re PRAWNS, ya drongos.) They use words beautifully over there; my favourite examples include the pick-up line “let’s go back to my place for some chicken and some sex”, the phrase “I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crisps” and the two most gorgeous insults – “shite-hawk” and “spanner”.
I went to Leeds to visit my favourite musician-turned-school-teacher-literature-wank-awesome-friend who has a job there, who taught me some more excellent examples of the local vernacular including the phrase to be “pissing glitter” with excitement, “did you shit the bed this morning?” to greet someone who has arrived early, as well as a “Dewsbury shower”, which is apparently the term for covering oneself in spray-deodorant as an alternative to bathing.
In Oxford (which is so fucking BEAUTIFUL in the snow that I’m going to start calling it Snoxford) I hung out with people who had the poshest accents in the universe, adding extra hilarity to their already amusingly posh conversations. For example, they regularly said things like: “I’ll just head upstairs and have a confab. with mummy re: dinner plans.” I wish I could talk like that, all in abbreviations and stuff (it’s like the girls from one of the posh private schools in Melbourne shortening ‘indubitably’ to ‘dubes’ back in my day…IN WHAT SITUATION WOULD YOU REQUIRE THAT WORD ABBREVIATED. WHAT!?)
I also love all the weird things I’ve over-heard. Things like: on the boat to Dublin I was sitting near two men who were discussing poker in their really thick London “I’ll-cut-you-you-slag” accents, when one said “want to see the picture of my cat in the doll’s house? He sleeps in there now…fucken idiot…”
This country (and the surrounding Ireland/Continental bits) are also so full of lovely museums that I am almost pissing glitter at the thought of them. Call me a child (everyone else does) but I am so so excited by collections of STUFF. I especially loved the V&A, mainly for the metal leaf they had to cover the statue of David’s junk when he visited. I also find a lot of classical sculpture quite funny. All those…lion wrestling with a griffin or a dragon wrestling with a unicorn things sound so much to me like the questioning of an 11-year-old. You know, ‘who would win if a dolphin fought batman’ etc.
All the while, London has just been so bloody…London-y. I have been to karaoke more times than I ever intended in my entire life. (While I remain unconvinced by the activity as a whole, the bar in the basement of the Guildhall’s music school is hilarious on a Friday night. So many drunk singers being drunk and singing.)
As sad as I am to be leaving, I think I may enjoy going back to a city that doesn’t give you black snot.
AS AN ASIDE: Some time ago, I wrote two angry vignettes, from days upon which I was feeling less than positive about this fucking city. I have included them here because I am VERY TIRED AND IT SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA. READ ON ONLY IF YOU CARE FOR GENREALISED COMPLAINING. I’m sorry if I sound like a spoilt child.
I can no longer use Vodafone, the shit-sticks. I had an argument with their customer service people. Over here, mobile internet has a “content filter” thing that specifically blocks “erotica”, online gaming and chat rooms. You know, so young people don’t accidentally win a stripper in a game of online poker or something. I tried to read an article on the Guardian about how sportswomen deal with their periods and the taboo surrounding the subject, and was unable to, because that article apparently qualified as either erotica, online gaming or a chatroom. I complained, because I thought it was pretty sick/sexist to conflate menstruation with erotica (because, as weird as my brain is, I can’t quite cram it into the ‘chat room’ category) and Vodafone resolved my complaint by removing the content filter from my phone. I said that not being able to access the article myself wasn’t the problem, it was the fact that it was blocked in the first place. They said “your complaint has been resolved”. I said “no it hasn’t! Your company is objectifying women by assuming their natural biological functions exist fundamentally for the sexual stimulation of others! It’s sick!” and they said “your complaint has been resolved” and I said “no it hasn’t! To whom do I complain about your company’s gross objectification of women?” and they said “I can’t comment on that. Your complaint has been resolved” and I said “right, well, I’m going to go find some other phone company that doesn’t think periods are essentially erotic.” It does feel good, I suppose, to cast off the shackles of the terrible decision I made to get one of their sim cards because it was the first phone shop I saw when I got off the train from the airport, in a jet-lag daze. It’s also nice not to be giving any more money to a company that supports dictatorships and the suppression of political dissent, and then MAKES AN AD PRETENDING THEY INSPIRED THE REVOLUTION THEY WERE TRYING TO SUPPRESS. (Seriously, Google Vodafone and the Arab Spring God. I’d almost forgotten about how angry I was about that. Good thing for reminding me, dickheads.)
Due entirely to my own inability to plan like a responsible grown up, I found I had two days in the middle of the trip in which I had nowhere to stay, with all my usual avenues of accommodation unreachable. I found, online, the cheapest hotel (which is, for London, not actually that cheap) and made the HORREDOUS MISTAKE of not looking at the tripadvisor reviews before booking. It was genuinely the worst place I have ever stayed. There was a single power socket that worked, in a room that has a conspicuously large number of powerpoints (seven) for a space that houses only a single bed. There was the constant smell of stagnant water, which was relieved somewhat by my emptying a small bottle of hand sanitiser down the sink, only to return with a vengeance some hours later. The sink, incidentally, didn’t really have a plug hole per se, just a gaping hole where I imagine some sort of fitting once sat, or was to sit. The hot and cold taps were also, amusingly mislabelled. There was a television, however, it was apparently 10 pounds per day if you wanted a remote for it, which was fine, as I’m wasn’t really here to watch TV, but even if I wanted to, it was plugged into one of the many power points that didn’t work, and its wall stand was held together with weird Christmas-themed sticky-tape. During my visit, it was hanging at a rather precarious angle, so I was not really game to touch it. The room was also in an attic. ON THE PLUS SIDE: sometimes it’s fun to pretend you’re some tragic lonely artist living in a 19th century garret. SO. FUN FACT: Contrary to popular belief, the worst hotel in England is in London, not, as many would think, in Torquay.