So apparently, according to Professor Milo, the rather large cathedral next to Parliament in central London, is in fact not Westminster Abbey, but rather Notré Dame Cathedral, and Esmeralda lives there. This is just one of the many new insights into the city of my birth that this visitor was able to bestow upon me as Milo and his other half Jordan joined our merry bunch of tourists on the 2nd day touring London town.
I had started the day assisting Thomas and Will nursing hangovers (well, more Thomas), and attempting to explain that Thomas’s shocking state of undress upon waking was due to his unstoppable need to “be one with the British couch” the night before, and absolutely nothing to do with anything indecent. At least that’s what we wanted him to think…
After a pleasant sunny stroll past Tower Bridge (not Fergie’s Bridge), we dined in Nando’s, some of the nicest chicken you will ever eat, and I cry for you poor American’s every day that you have not a chance to sample this most beautiful combination of moist chicken, Portuguese peri-peri spice and spicy rice.
Leaving them to gorge themselves, and to engage in a little shopping with boyfriend, I was off to Heathrow airport for the 2nd time in as many days to pick up the aforementioned professor and his long-suffering beau. After rushing them back to my place, they literally had seconds to splash water on their faces before I was forcing them back out my door, careening towards Westminster to meet up with our small posse of tourists outside the Abbey, where the educational remark that opened this entry was made by our beloved professor.
Within the next two hours, I forced upon our weary group a whirlwind tour of London’s signature sights, namely Hogwarts (don’t ask), Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square (never knew they would be so good at mounting lions!), Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Chinatown, Soho, and Oxford Street, and I could have kept going, except Jasper called me from home telling me the Adobo was ready and we had to get home.
Pork adobo and several calorific rice portions later, our plans to head on out into the London night were scuppered by the delightful sight of four exhausted Californians slumped on the sofa, heads cocked back, mouth wide and agape, snoring in a harmony that would make the Supremes weep. It would have been a shame to wake them, especially since we had a cab taking us to Rome picking us up roughly three hours later…
So I videotaped them instead.
According to Thomas, this is Fergie's Bridge...
The queens outside their castle. Don't ask what Milo is doing. Technically I am in this picture too, just look very closely at Thomas's glasses. I personally think Buckingham Palace looks better when partially obscured. Either that's the London eye or Jordan has a halo... The queens have a new castle! Sorry professor Milo, but I don't think this is Notre Dame... My baby Jasper turns up with shopping (as usual) just in time to frame St. Stephen's Clocktower. Notice I DIDN'T call it Big Ben! I think this means Thomas demands worship. Or he's just surfing St. Pauls...
That's a big ass! I'm talking about the lion of course!
Sleepy Americans! Let's just all be glad they didn't spot the hidden cameras in their bedrooms...
Another few months go by, another adventure bestows itself upon my doorstep. And down into the pits of unreality I cast the incredibly naive ideal that I would travel less this year, save some money, and actually carry over some annual leave into the next work year. Well bollocks to that!
It all started innocently enough. Professor Milo (the professor bit will be explained later) sends an innocuous email my way, explaining that him and his beau Jordan will be visiting Europe and will have a one night layover in London on the way in – and if it wouldn’t be too much inconvenience to have them crash on my couch for the night. ‘No problem!’ I say, mi casa su casa, or whatever. Then several developments later, it now turns out I have four of the Californian posse crashing on my living room floor (with the fabulous ThoMAS Lin and the explorative Will Kivinski joining the ranks), and I am joining them on the first portion of their trip, namely Roma (that’s Rome to you Americans). Goodbye savings plan!
Still, even though London is my home, to these guys, their vacation started with me, and damn if I wasn’t going to make it a good one. First, on the Friday night, ThoMAS and Will arrive, bleary eyed and ready for a drinkin’. Since my friend Eric had recently moved into a new place just ten minutes walk from gay town (a demotion – since he actually used to live inside gay town), we abused his space to drop off their luggage and head straight for the bars.
The image of the British having a stiff upper lip and being the prudish members of the otherwise very open and experimental European society, soon came crashing to a halt just one drink in. Standing out in the street outside the first bar, we were greeted by a funny and hot lesbian couple and their younger friend (dyke in training? fun on the side?) looking for a cigarette and/or conversation. After sharing drinks, war stories, nicotine clouds and merriment, it was off to the next bar, where I introduced the two unsuspecting Americans not just to cider, but pint of cider. It was enough to have ThoMAS running between the upstairs and back again on the double-decker bus on the way back looking for a victim to torment with his slurred yet still fabulous pick up lines.
And he had been in the country for less than four hours. It was going to be a very interesting week indeed…
Tomas, Will and I drunkily enjoy our London double-decker bus ride...
Eric to his fellow Americans: "These my friends - are the reason I moved out here - PINTS!!!"
Warning! Drinking in London may initiae contacts with hot lesbians!
Tomas isn't red at all! See! Watch the webisode below to prove it!
These are some pictures leftover from the last entry (American Invasion), which show the aforementioned trip up Greenwich Park. They were taken by my good friend Anthony, who is a kick-arse photographer I must say. Please enjoy:
Another summer, another relentless invasion from the American nation to my small country, to crash on my sofa-bed, to drink my wine, to eat my food, and to generally ensure that I can once again enjoy the city of my birth.
You see, living in the City you were born in and remain in for 25 years, could leave you feeling rather tired of the place. Unless, of course, that city is London. London y’see – it attracts everyone. Travellers, workers and students from 180 countries speaking over 330 languages fill our streets, saturated to the point that when I am out in the evening enjoying cider infused merriment, I am often not just the only Londoner in the place, but the only Englishman too. And I absolutely love it.
Further infusing this mix for the weekend was one Ms Connie Lee, resident of the bay area, but taking out a year in Copenhagen, Denmark, to learn about business or bacon or something like that. But the Danish capital only being an hour away from its British counterpart, there was no excuse for her not to make the trip over and enjoy London’s eclectic atmosphere.
One other thing to note about London. Regardless of where you are from, or where you intend to be, everyone drinks. A lot. So in the spirit of enjoying the full London experience, we got Connie drinking the second she put her gorgeous stilettos on the pavement. Considering the company she was keeping, it was off to favourite haunt Ku Bar, with its consistently pleasing-to-the-eye cast of bar boys, and full pints of pear cider at prices that don’t require getting a 2nd mortgage.
Weather-wise, Connie’s timing couldn’t have been better, with London experiencing a mini heat wave (mid-90’s for us is a heat wave OK!), the atmosphere was one of cider, relaxing, partying, cider, and more cider. In fact when hiking up the hill in GreenwichPark to get to the observatory on top and stand on the Meridian Line (“where time and space begin!!!”) we couldn’t even begin to think of enjoying the huge vista provided without a bottle of cider in hand. It was here, under the sun, my friend Mark doing cartwheels in the background, the best view in all of London displayed before us, that I was reminded how much I love this city, and I think Connie agreed.
The fact that half an hour later the heavens opened and the rain came down heavier than I have my butter on my toast, didn’t dampen the spirits, as we all crashed back in my apartment and Jasper prepared his signature Adobo, which always brightens everyone’s spirits.
The real story came from later that evening, when we returned to Ku Bar to ogle further at the bar boys. One particular Brazilian had caught Connie’s eye, and while at first too shy to even approach him, a few ciders later (complimented by Jasper and I continually encouraging her), she managed to say hi and get his name. Followed by his number, followed by his life story. By the end of the chat, Connie had us waiting on the street outside for him while he washed up and joined us, and… well… lets just say that Connie got more than just his email that night…
Connie's first piece of man meat of the night...
Connie likes her fancier champers...
Jaspers friends in town, also approving of Connie's taste in men...
The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats in Islamabad and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". Brits have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when Custard Cream supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance". The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate". The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.
It's not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing". Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides".
The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the modern Spanish fleet can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Americans meanwhile are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all of their allies, just in case.
New Zealand has also raised its security levels - from "baaa" to "BAAAA!" Due to continuing defence cutbacks (the air force being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is "Shut, I hope Austrulia will come end riscue us". In the event of invasion, New Zealanders will be asked to gather together in a strategic defensive position, called Bondi.
Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, mate". Three more escalation levels remain: "Crikey!", "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and "The barbie is cancelled." It should be noted that there has not been a situation yet that has warranted the use of the final escalation level.
*for those who haven’t realized by the very nature of this entry – this… is… a joke!