Continuing on from LonDumb – Part I …
It’s A Long Way To Tipperary – Little Green Cars
What do you call a ponder pipe that just lays around all day? Mopey Dick. Badum. My first day in London, I was moping like no other. Woke up early. Phoned the prison. Spoke to Kailand. Told me her news – “They keep giving us bananas and milk for meals, I’m hooked on the milk.” Slurp. Filled her in on my news – US Embassy said there’s nothing they can do, magistrates decision so just have to sort it out when you get home. Some dose. Slurp. Kailand is upset. But still. Her spirits are high. Night’s sleep always helps in fairness. Or else they were spiking the milk.
It was then realised that it must be hard to keep conversations flowing with people in prison. Both had filled the other in in detail what had happened since we saw each other last (about 24 hours ago). After that, our news seemed insignificant or non-existence. I’d phone back and Kailand would tell me she had a nice non-English speaking conversation with an Indian woman about milk. I’d inform Kailand that the hotel room was nice but all the TV stations seemed to be showing was the Big Bang Theory. Then Kailand had to go to get more milk. I’d phone back. Find out if the milk was really cold or room temperature. Called off again to go brush her teeth if she wanted to. Phone back again and then… I was told Kailand had been taken away. Being brought back to the airport. Put on a flight. Which flight? Wouldn’t tell me? What time? Hung up on me. Dose. Wouldn’t speak to Kailand about milk again until she was back in L.A, eating some Thanksgiving turkey and egg nog. So that was a balls.
Having phone privileges taken away made it all feel even worse. So I became Mopey Dick. Everything I had scheduled in London wasn’t actually until Friday and Monday. Almost everything Monday. Four meetings. Four TV channels. All Monday. Only Wednesday now. Until then. Mope on? Room service. Cup of tea. Make it four. Please. Turn up the heater. Take off my pants. Put on pajamas. Watch The Big Bang Theory. Try and figure out the theory of why people like the show so much. Had me stumped. Saw an ad for a dating site specifically for people who wear uniforms or who like people who wear uniforms. Thought it was a joke. Googled. Nay. Real thing. Spent a while browsing various uniforms throughtout history on Google Images. All in all. Great start to my London trip. No longer here for fun, I decided. Business time. Used to going away on my own to places all the time, no problem there. Just felt bad and a bit guilty if I enjoyed myself too much while Kailand – who was beyond pumped – was now on a plane back, robbed of her joy. Why should I go enjoy myself? I know some of you are saying “Ah but go enjoy yourself anyway, it’s not your fault.” However. Sometimes. Just no longer in the mood to go have fun when a downer like that comes along. Ergo, Mopey Dick. Am I rambling? I think so. Anyway. The show must go on!
That night I left the lair to go meet up with my buddies. Irish living in London. Bob Hoff. Krinian. Dicksy Dodge. Cillin The Fixer. The Man Formerly Known As Chisel Bam. Arranged to mate in Notting Hill. Close enough to where I’m staying. Mate on. See ye there. Time to suss out the tube as well. Need it to get to these meetings I have. Notting Hill is only one tube stop away at least. Easy enough. Until I get on the wrong one. Takes me three different tubes to finally get to where I want to go. Hop off. Remember. Streets with no name. Forgot that none are sign-posted in this part of the world. A lot just curve around in circles too. Already late. Ask a corner shop guy for directions. Makes me buy something first. Then points me on my the way. Nip in the air. Could do with a few more scarves. LA has made me soft. Cold to the bone. Finally recognise a street from Google Maps. Here we go. Pub with doors that a hobbit would have to crouch down to get through. In I go. Old man kind of place. Fire roasting. Dapper guys in three-piece suits everywhere. Kanye West was right, they do like their peacoats.
See my buddy Bob on his todd. Waiting patiently. Eating a pub dinner. Rest of my buddies arrive. Scarves off. Banter on. Guinness all round. Good laugh. Early night though. All working early. Pack of bankers. Suits me and my Mopey Dick too. Last tube home. Perfect time to listen to some music. What am I in the mood for? The National. Bon Iver. Sigur Ros? It’s been a while! Might as well prepare for the inevitable in the morning. No sun or heat to sweat the booze out of me. Here we go. Kip. Night. Wake up. Memories. Old ones. Flooding back. Things I now remember: Cold. Winter. Hangovers. Dose.
Despite my mopey retelling of the events, I actually had a good night. Always mighty to get a bit of banter back in your belly, sorely missing activity in L.A. Plus. I realised I need to cop on to the tubes fairly lively or I would be spending most my days and nights lost in various parts of London. So. The next day, I decided to just be a tourist and tube it around the place. See the sights! As they say. Although. I then realised that I’ve already been in London a good few times. So seeing the sights wasn’t really that appealing now that Kailand wasn’t there to have her mind blown with the castles and the bridges and the towers and ye olden time places with cobbled roads. You know, all the stuff they don’t have in America. So I just took a few photos of myself in various places instead. At the time I wanted to show Kailand the different places but it probably just upset her more to see me being a mope at all this mighty places. Anyway. Here’s me, a red telephone box and an unimpressed girl…
Me cold on the street.
The London Bridge and I.
As far as circuses go, Piccadilly is very poor. Didn’t see any lions. Just one clown.
Finally. Chewed the cud with this guy for a while…
Great day and night of sight-seeing. Got lost in Soho for a while. Apparently it was originally called So-so-ho because the women of the night were only average at best. Apparently. Then I went to Starbucks. Attempted a tough feat: Texting while walking. Dodge. Ended up in the women’s bathrrom by accident. Stood in the middle for a good minute finishing a text. Only when a confused older woman asked what I was doing did I snap out of it. Told her just checking the temperature. She nodded along, confused. Quickly left. Found the men’s. Saw a well dressed man asleep on the floor. Seriously. Odd buzz. Thankfully he didn’t wake up while I was conducting my business. Had to half stand over him. Finally, while queuing I got to listen to a Russian guy tell a story to his Italian friend. His English was pretty mighty “I saw interview with Michael Tyson, he say so funny, it was halarious”. So that was fun. No need to thank me for such wonderful photos either. Wonderful self portraits.
At least I got to know my way around on the tube. So that was mighty. My favourite thing about the tube is the computerised voiceover lady who announces all the stops. Whoever she is, she speaks very well indeed. Very well? Proper? Properly? She speaks good is what I think I’m trying to say. “Next stop is Green Park. Change here for the Victoria, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines. Alight here for Buckingham Palace. Please mind the gap. And Mark, I must say, you are looking rather fetching today. Cheerio!” Why thank you. And alight? Who uses that word any more?! Bravo. Classy lady. I’m sure you look rather spiffing yourself!
My second favourite thing is that sometimes they kind of feel like death. And everyone loves that, right? It’s a lovely this is what it must feel like to be buried alive feeling. Especially when they’re busy. Packed. Claustro. Dodgo. Air is tight. Sweats are on. Tube is stopped. Construction. No one moving. Just standing. Life slowly being slowly sucked out of you. Everyone dressed in either black or grey. As if they are off to their own funeral. Crammed into these cylindrical tubes. Tube starts up again. Everyone sways around. Numb look on their faces. Ride that until they die. Resigned that this is how their life is going to be. The tube as their daily coffin. And I imagine a lot will get the whooping-cough and pass away. Coughing in their coffin.
On a serious note, if you do actually like dandruff and people coughing all over you, the tube is amazing! I’m staying in Earl’s Court so the closer you get to the city centre, the busier the tube gets. And they can get packed. Starts of with lots of room. Then standing room. Elbow room. No room. Squashed. Lungs being squeezed. One time I got fully stuck. Rush hour. Couldn’t move my body. Wedged in. Guy straight in my face. Couple of inches away. Big sinister looking Eastern European guy. Dolph Lundgren style. Headphones on. Music blaring. I could swear if was listening to Barbie Girl. While staring at me. In fairness, he couldn’t really turn any other way either. Mo other option really of where to look unless he just closed his eyes. Willed him to close them. Nay joy. So he just stood staring at me, awkwardly nodding and shrugging at him. Awful busy, huh?
My only other option was to turn my head slightly to the right. On this side there’s an older man, quite tall as well with his back to me. Big time head issues. Dan Druff. Wearing one of those green wax jackets. Not so dandy. Doesn’t smell good. White flakes covering the black collar. Stinks of wax and dry hair. Over my shoulder I can feel a woman coughing. Her manky wet breath spraying into my ear and blowing onto my cheek. Turn my head fully away from her. But this just leads me to basically swap air with Dolph Lundgren facing me. He breathes out. I breath in. I breath out. He sucks in. All very strange. Warm. Stale. Mank. Where has that breath been? I don’t want to know. Is this how people get gonorrhea? Only thing that can make this worse is if someone gets a lazy… Ahem. All this body contact, swaying and bumping. Oh Jesus. Better not be me. Try to turn my head and get some good air from my right – Mouthful of dandruff. Speckled tongue. Almost empty reaching. Mank. Come on Tube Lady, hurry up and say alight here for Buckingham Palace, the Queen is waiting!
In fairness to the tube, it does get you around London cheaply. Cheap cheap, as a deranged bird might say. Mostly it does anyway. Getting from the tube to where you then need to go can be a balls. Especially in the rain. So. In unfairness to me, this meant sometimes I had to cab it. And cabs, if I’m being honest, are the world’s worst way to spend money. Up there with rent. At least with rent you don’t have to physically see how much you’re spending by the second. In a cab, you just watch the meter shoot up. Stuck in traffic. Not moving. Pounds getting heavier by the second. Five, seven, twelve. They have a weird billing system. London cabs are some rip off. Sit in a cab. Meter shoots up two pounds for every separate buttock that sits on the seat. Thankfully I only have two. “Where are you going mate?” Just up there please. I’d walk but it’s bucketing down, you know yourself. Roughly, a four-minute cab ride. Barely had time to get comfortable in the seat. Arrive. “£14 please mate”. Huh? But I can actually still see my hotel from here. Why so much? To which the cab man replied: “Fawking cutnam innit aren’t they?” OK? Lost me at that one. Paid. Dodged. Swooped. On.
In an effort to stop spending all my future rent money on cabs that would just be stuck in traffic, a few times I got the bus. Not a big fan. I think San Fran is the only place in the world where the public transport is actually normal enough. Besides that, always a bit odd. And. Not to be unkind. But. Buses really are the base level. These ones anyway. London buses are odd. Strange people. Strange smells. Remember that show Worzel Gummidge? Scarecrow that came to life? Most people I saw on the bus kind of reminded me of that. Screaming bus drivers too. Angry men. Cursing. Threatening to plough into the back of other drivers on the road. Eyes twitching. Fiddling in their pockets. Bursting with fury. You do see a lot when you stand up the front. Full on bus rage. Turning to you to agree with what they’re screaming: “You see the f*@king c%#! cut me off?!” No. Sorry. Calm down.
One bus almost killed me actually. Double decker. Big red bus of pain. So I’m walking down Oxford Street. It. Is. Packed. As in mental how busy it is. Like I just came out of a stadium after a game. Sea of people. All bundling along in one motion. As it happened, I’m stuck behind a slow walker. Slow enough as it was but this guy was making it ridiculous. Couldn’t really go around him. So stuck behind, walking into the back of him. Finally, had enough, saw an opening on the outside by the curb, went for it, walked into a bin. Waist high. Low blow. As I said, busy street, but I didn’t hear that many people laugh. Maybe just four. Anyway. On I walk again. Still behind this guy. Out of my way Luke Slow Walker, you just made a fool out of me somehow well maybe it was my own fault but still, I’m coming past you! Around the outside I go. Actually, no. Road is too busy. Except. Suddenly. Luke Slow Walker just stops. Balls. Swerve I go. One foot goes off the curb. Just about to put my full weight on it and move my left foot off. Get a sick feeling in my stomach. Glance over my right shoulder. See a big funking double decker coming full on down Oxford Street. HONNNNKKKK!!! HOOOONKKKK!! No slowing down. But at least honked. Made me reach out my hand. Grab slow walker’s hood on his jacket. Yank myself back up on to the curb. Barely pull myself to safety. Indiana Jones style. Beyond dodge. No one really had a clue. Luke Slow Walker looks around. Gives me a nod. Looked like a nice chap. Nodded back. Cheers boss. On my way I carefully crept. Slow Walker style.
Buddy told me soon after to be wide. Bus driver would’ve ploughed me down no bother. Must be known for having the rage in them. Although I did get one really laid back bus driver. Well, more of a shuttle driver. Not sure how I got so stuck on buses here. But looks like I am. So. Anyway. I had some meetings lined up while I was in London. Basically mating all the TV channels over there. BBChannelFomedyCentraSky. Here’s me in front of a couple of them. You know the ones.
Again. Super photos. Really got the normal face down. Oddly enough, all of these meetings fell on the same day. All asked if I could meet the Monday before I left. Not wanting to be fussy (except when it comes to buses, cabs and death carriages) I of course said no problem. Sure thing! Wunderbar!! Meaning, I would be spending the day in buses, cabs and death carriages. First meeting in by Piccadilly. Hop on a tube. Mate. Grate. Depart. Next, on to Oxford Street. Quick skip up the road. Another. Meet. Greet. Dancing. From there, hope on another tube. Out to Sky. Chunk out. By Heathrow. Jump off. Informed a shuttle will take me to their office. Or. I could get a cab? Shuttle on. Kind of early. See the countryside. Shuttle. Coffee. Meet. Lunch. Prancing! These are going swimmingly. Happy days. Next meeting isn’t for three hours. Take my time. Take some notes. Organise my gibber.
So I hop on the Sky shuttle back to the tube station. Driver informs me he has to do a loop before going to the station. No worries. Take the first seat. Behind the driver. Partition between us. Off he drives. I start taking notes into my phone. Hmm. Mighty meetings so far. Couldn’t be more dancing. This person wants to see that while that person wants to see this. I think I need to tweak that before I send this first. Must follow up with that person about this person too. Oh yeah, must make sure that angle is more like this angle for her but less obtuse an angle for him. Or is it oblique? Not sure. Are we at the station yet? Nope. Look around the shuttle. Just me left. Everyone else has hopped off at one of the stops. Stomach rumbles. Hungry enough. I’ll get something by the tube maybe. Not sure where we are now. Looks like a residential street. Didn’t notice this on the way there. Must be taking the back roads. Fire up the Kindle app on my phone. Some app. Get my read on. Jump in a book. Barely notice when the bus comes to a stop. Must be picking other people up by these houses or something. Back to the book. Although. Where’s the bus driver off to? See him grab his hat and jacket. Fold a newspaper under his arm. Gets off the bus. Presses a button. Doors close behind him. Hm. And now he’s walking into the house we’re outside? Hmm. This is weird.
Pretend to read my book for another minute or two. No sign of the bus man. Surely he’s not staying in there, is he? He didn’t forget about me and has now bunked off for lunch, has he? Nah. Just keeping reading, this is normal. Another page, enough of this. Off the bus I get. Look around. I’m in a housing estate kind of place. No sign of the station. No clue where I am. Go to the front door. Knock. Ring the bell. Door opens. Bus driver answers, cup of tea in hand, sandwich in his mouth. Eyes widen in shock. Remembers. This guy was on the bus! Ha, just wondering, when do we get to the tube station again? I’m still on the bus. “Sorry mate! I was just having my lunch, forgot you were on the bus.” No worries. So. What’s the plan? More importantly, what kind of sandwich is that? Ham. Give us a bite. Horse me out a cup of tea too.
So that was fun. As was my next minute. Or at least the cab I tried to get from my hotel. Ask the cabman to take me to the BBCDEFG, please. Big old building. Grey beast. Could actually see it from where I got the cab. Cabbie asks if I’m from around here? No. Just over for the week. “Ah, on holiday is it mate?” Before I could answer he had taken a right. Then another right. And now we were going in the opposite direction of the BBC. You’re going the wrong way! I bellowed through the plexiglass. “Faster route mate, trust me.” We’re stuck in traffic, in the wrong direction? How is that faster? Out I hopped. Bus I caught. Made it to BBC in a few minutes. In I go. Mate I do. Out I come. Trout’s mouth. One final coffee meeting. Cap off the day. Mighty dancing all round. Couldn’t have gone better to be true. Also couldn’t have done it without the buses, cab men and death carriages. Cheers, ye fecks.
Anyway. Now. Some amount of gibber for a Mopey Dick. Nay more of that. Time for a bit of fun. Did I mention yet about me eating paper? Or the mighty gigs I went to see? Giddy up the Rob! Oh two. Oh to be. O2 Arena. Part III on…
Rock The Casbah – The Clash
Recap: LonDumb – Part I
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