Thursday, April 19, 2007

London in the 80s, Walking to a Different Beat

Today has been a slow day, perfectly so. The ghost called global warming has reared its head once again and London is sub-tropical, as it has been for my 4 days here. Sunny, dry and clear, above all it’s the clear blue skies that have the people of London a bit weirded out.

I’ve settled well into my neighbourhood, in fact, I’ve even been able to offer directions to fellow tourists. Last night, after my run in Holland Park, quite a run it was, with the planes whizzing by overhead and a large football field all to myself, I ran into a man wearing 3 large backpacks and a painful grimace on his face. He was lost, wandering 3 hours in Notting Hill, after a flight from Bangkok to London. He hadn’t slept for 30 hours, this Norwegian man, and there he was, on the same footpath as me, looking for the Holland Park Youth Hostel, which he had just passed by in the forest yonder for the fourth or fifth time, he had lost count 90 minutes ago. I had stumbled across the hostel a year ago, and brought him to its door yesterday. He was pleased, but not nearly as much as me. Not because I had helped him out, but because I knew my way around enough to do so, even in the dark.

I also found out today that I’m now able to jaywalk quite succesfully. Mind you, I did almost get struck yesterday morning, but it feels like today I finally got it. Obviously, I must learn to look in the opposite direction nearly 3 decades of habitual body memory tells me to look. I’ve decided that training myself to only look the right way would be pointless, so instead I look both ways always and hope for the best. But, around here I’m also aided by large block letters on the pavement that tell me, without question, which way I should look. Sort of like cheat sheets for the clueless. I can’t say that I wasn’t warned, that’s for sure.

Sometimes, as I explore the city, I feel like I’m in the early 80s. There’s something about being hip in London that means going back, way back in time. This is not unlike anywhere else really, but it stands out most starkly in men’s fashion, all of those ripped, tight jeans; crooked, too-cool-for-school hairdos; mega-large black-rimmed glasses; and tiny tees, either all black or white. Oh yeah, and women with their bangs and leggings and pimped out pink belt buckles. It’s almost so 80s that it’s the 70s, but before I jump around to too many decades, I’ll just say that there’s a look I’m aiming to emulate, a couple of vintage purchases today have brought it within reach, so close I can see it. It isn’t the 70s or 80s, it’s even more of a throwback, with a twist. Hopefully it’ll work on me, but if it doesn’t, I’ll have some great clothes to give away to someone. I did test it out today on my evening out on Great Titchfield Street, just off Oxford Street. My friend told me she really dug my outfit, so maybe I’ll pull it off after all.

I got to stand outside on a sidewalk tonight and drink, London-style. Although I only had sparkling water, it was a treat. The only downside, as I’ve found out in my other pub forays, is the creeping smoke that finds its way up my sinus cavities. Believe it or not though, London’s indoor smoking ban takes effect on July 1st, not bad, only 10 years late. And they say London is ahead of the ball when it comes to fashion!


James Bond said...

Ahhh climate change. Just yesterday our wonderful environment minister, John Baird, provided a report "showing" that if Canada met the Kyoto requirements, it would come with the cost of an economic collapse. Ah yes, but unfortunately his study omitted, amongst many things, the economic benefits of meeting Kyoto. What will have a larger impact on the Canadian economy: 1) Meeting Kyoto, or 2) Not meeting Kyoto?
Tomorrow I will be acting as a tour guide for a visiting student from France. I just know she will not be impressed with "old" Montreal :o)

SubVerse said...

And how does the National Post report this subject? "Take Your Pick: Environmental Or Economic Disaster?" "Cost of Kyoto: A Recession" Two pictures side by side of the ice melting and a man ladling soup out of a sidewalk (tub? garbage can?) as if these things were equal. I hate the National Post. Though, it is fun to rip its journalist (yes, there is only one... or several who say the exact same thing) apart. Hey, I needed an excuse to sit in the sun instead of write essays (the crossword!).

Ottawa looks like this: people playing football in the streets. Girls (Denise, Beth and I) lunching in the parks next to Parliment. Naked, flourescent legs sticking out of mini skirts and cargo shorts. People are making these funny noises which sound like laugher. I think they're happy.

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