Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Monday, March 20, 2006

The London Experience

Damn that was fun. I think it's safe to say that I've got through my God-England's-so-dull-I-would- NEVER-want-to-live-there-ever -again phase and am well on the way to my I-used-to-live-in- a-pretty-cool-place phase. Not sure if the shall-I-go-back-there- next-time-I-move? phase is going to reach out and grab me, but you never know.

There are far too many things going round my head for me to make sense of right now and tell you about, and there is also this tiresome thing called 'work' that I'm supposed to be doing instead of blogging, so I'll just note down a few random observations and point you to my photos until I have a few spare minutes later on.

1. They are always telling you what to do in London. There are all the regular ones like 'no smoking', 'keep out' and 'no entry' but then there are the slightly more specific ones: 'Danger. Keep everything clear of the doors' in the underground carriages and 'please stand on the right' and 'hold children firmly' on the underground escalators. You have to hold the handrail, carry your dogs and keep clear of the edges. You have to 'look right' or 'look left' when crossing the road, 'mind the gap' when getting on underground trains and smile for the cameras recording your every move.
I saw quite a few no-nonsense signs, my favourite of which were the following two:

so there! And
(why would you park your car in the middle of the road?)

2. I knew about the invasion of the Polish plumber and the tabloid hype about being overrun with Eastern Europeans but their presence was definitely noticeable. I checked into the hotel in English, turned to Marek's dad and translated, then the check-in woman continued in Polish... When we were by Tower Bridge we were asked to take a picture of a Polish couple, and when we were on our way from the tube station to the hotel we saw a 'polskie piwo' sign . I knew it wasn't such a useless language to learn.

3. I lived in London until I was 15. Since then I have totally lost any claim to the 'Londoner' title. This was most obvious when I met an old friend and was talking about one of our journeys on the world-famous London underground (otherwise known as tube) system. I called it the metro.

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