So I got to London
I did dilly dally in Indonesia for 5 days and got a bit of sun and diesel exhaust in one of the most densely populated regions of the world (Java duh). That put me in the mood for arriving in London. It did take me 16 hours of pure ‘knees-firmly-rammed-into-the-seat-in-font-of-me hell’ and a bribe at the airport (which I was too dumb to figure out I was supposed to be giving) to check my over weight luggage though to London, and not pass Amsterdam and pay $648 us for the excess. I remind myself it wasn’t in the bottom of a galleon for 6 months with scurvy standing up in my own fasces so humanity has made progress get form Sydney to London, it only takes 16 hours to achieve the same feeling. But nothing new here.
At first euphoria…
The first week I was here the sun was out every day and I was working on my tan. White (white!) English body’s littered the parks and birds were singing. Eir has landed a pad a block for a spate of Vietnamese restaurants so even the food situation isn’t so bad. Eir had already hooked me up with a room in a share house 10 minute free bus ride up the road from her in Dalston, a very happening area with open markets every day for fruit and veg.
Sebastion came down form oxford the first weekend I was here and we went to a Mudhoneys gig at the Astoria. Mudhoneys are an old 80’s indie band and we moshed around for an hour or two. Heaps of fun. We ended up walking 5km home to Shortditch and catching Erika at her bar as they where packing up. Seb got stuck into the kitchen and we were eating ice cream with ladle spoons.
Week two was more like the London I remembered it. Money was (is) very tight since paying bond and rent for the first month. So I start looking for a job, only the mobile phone I brought with me doesn’t work much (thanks B) and no landline at home so it’s hard to hunt for a job. The final kick to the ribs was my laptop going down once more talking the last 2-3 weeks worth of work I’d done on it with it.
My pills where running out so I had to spend most of the week doing battle with the NHS just to get a prescription written. This I managed to do despite being told ‘impossible’ repeatedly by six different women behind reception desks. Alex one, NHS zero!
Living in the ghettoooo
I moved into my new place, with Erika’s help, that first weekend and was given my first impression of Dalston. We were walking along the main drag near Dalton junction, which is predominantly a black area with a smattering of Turk, and I pushed passed this guy as the street was very crowded. This guy then proceeded to behave like what can only be described as a pro wrester: He attempted to spit on my back, but missed and got Erikas back. We were both a little dazed by it and he started swearing and waving his finger in my face in a threatening manor chanting “I wanted you, you! YOU!”. He was short but had three buddies and dressed like Mr T. I asked him what the big deal was but he kept reminding me that I’d bumped into him, which I now take as a bad custom here, even in a crowd.
I was tempted to pursue a more aggressive line with little ‘Snoop Doggy’ but I remembered that less than a week before hand, the friend of this girl that Erika works with was stabbed in the throat with a broken beer bottle coming out of a cub in Dalston. He be dead now. For a time I was scared to go home from Eirs on the bus because I’d seen another violent incident where this guy started hitting this woman he didn’t know and insinuation she wasn’t a woman. I can’t remember ever being around so much hostility before.
There is a lot of poverty in Dalston and it seems to foster hatred. After having dealt with the NHS and seen the way they make everything such a struggle I could see why they might hate the society that doesn’t want them and is openly hostile to them every step of he way.
There is also an up surgeons of nationalism in England at the moment, ether due to the Euro Cup or the issue of England adopting the European Union constitution. White flags with the red cross hang everywhere. I have noticed that there are many, many cultures in London but none of them are represented in the media. No community radio or alternative media. I’m thinking that maybe if there is a representation of the poorer sectors here, an outlet, then maybe there would be less hate and more love going round.
It was pointed out to me that England has never had a modern revolution. Its laws are ancient and have been setup but rich land holder and its all seems to work in their favor here. The common people are entrenched in bureaucracy. No one seems to question the rules. They just take it. I think that’s why they always lose at football: no fighting spirit.
Where theres a Whill..
I’ve been hanging out with young master Richard and his crew of trendy young homies. He’s working in a Bar in Soho called ‘Two Levels’. Eir is also working at a trendy bar in Shoreditch in the Truman bury called ‘the Peacock’ and between the two of them there is much free beer going round. I’ve started playing basketball with richy on one of the underused public courts. Still got the moves ;)
Shortditch being what it is, the whole are is full of arty end of year shows for students of St. Martins Collage and I’ve seen a lot of the young talent from around the world strut their stuff.
Eir and Richy are encrusted in a tight little group of fashion/publicity crowd and there is much wild partying going on at all times of the week. Since its summer time and it doesn’t get dark till after 10:30pm midnight seems to leap upon you unawares.
I visited Sebastian in Oxford, who is doing philosophy there, for the weekend and spent he night in the Holywell Manor, a lovely group of sandstone buildings with an enchanting little private courtyard. Oxford seems to be full of lots of private areas that we spend much of the day trying to intrude. The architecture is exactly as you would imagine it, in fact they filmed Harry Potter in one of the grander looking buildings.
Because the weather was so fantastic we spent the better part of the day on the river bank in the sun watching the punters punt by. There was also a carnival, similar to the Surry hills festival, on when I was there and wondered around a bit enjoying the festivity. The food was nasty but there was a hint of some local musical talent, but nothing gripping.
He introduced me to the many types of nerds that are reared in Oxford. Anime society, ‘Speculative science’ (sci-fi) society, Dr Who group, etc. You get the picture. I ended up at a pub on the ‘town’ side of… town where ‘robes’ (students) hang out and they have free monkey nuts and good ale, which is quite a nice drink. There’s a bit of a ‘town’ verse ‘robe’ thing happening in Oxford.
Oxford is only an hour and a half bus ride from central London so I think I’ll be heading back there soon.
So all in all I’m having a crusy time hanging in the park with the homies sucking back European beers and enjoying the sun despite being poor and hungry. Still looking for a job but have a few prospects cooking. I’ve meet heaps of interesting people and it looks like my time here this time will be of a completely different flavor form the last time.