World Clock

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Curious Case Of Just Too Much London

London. What can I say. This is the fourth time I have come through the city of 8 million, give or take a few million, on this trip so far. And somehow I'm finding that the more I see of it, the less I like it. Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful city in so many ways: the cultural events that never cease, the galleries and music venues that constantly find new ways of bringing the arts to life, the convenient (but expensive) tube network, the famous and lively Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, Leicester Square, South Bank, Covent Gardens, etc. But, at the risk of overgeneralising and overstating, anything outside of those areas is simply utter shit.
The monotonous "suburban areas" of, say, Clapham, Richmond and White City (just to name a few) are virtually identical in the look of the streets, in the repetitive rows of 2- and 3-storey colourless UK-style-fa├žade housing, and in the chain stores that pollute the already dreary identity of the area - exacerbated by 52% of days in a year being overcast. Sure, there may be the odd uninspired green park nearby but the endless landscape of kebab shops, Tesco, H&M, Argos, Ladbrokes, The Carphone Warehouse, Boots, Sainsbury's, TopShop, Costcutter, William Hill bookkeepers (and the list goes on...) certainly make for a dull and tiring stroll through any of these areas. Too big. Too tedious.
I stayed with 4 people over 6 nights this time around. The first 2 were with Saskia in her tiny room in White City, the home of the BBC. I had my interview for the French job during this time and found out the next day that they wouldn't hire me because of my piercings. Turns out the guy running the estate is an ex-Army Major and does not tolerate any piercings except for normal earrings on females. A case of discrimination? Maybe, especially since I would have been working solely as a groundskeeper, but I somehow don't think I would have had a case. Meh, c'est la vie.
The next night was spent ripping it up with Tom and John at their flat on Guitar Hero. I was somewhere else the next night again, this time with the Aussie Davie whom Lee and I met in the first couple of days of our trip, nearly a year ago, on Vietnam's Mekong Delta. We enjoyed a night out with his girlfriend and a bunch of their friends for a birthday, following up with a very relaxed Saturday hanging around the house and then going on a bit of a trip to the local hardware store for some wood for a bookshelf Davie was building. The final two nights were spent with someone I hadn't seen in even longer: Lauren from NZ, who I hadn't seen since.. NZ. We caught up for some reminiscing at her flat in Clapham Junction (conveniently located near Britain's busiest train station of the same name - but oddly some distance from the nearest tube station.)
All this excitement of not getting my job and being back in London made me want to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible, so it wasn't long and I was back on an overnight bus up to Edinburgh to put some serious efforts into job hunting.

Photos:

the healthy options on offer at a roadstop en route to London

Saskia's pad, i'm squeezed in under the bed there..

a small sample of the BBC buildings in and around White City

Lauren and I