Recent Escapades in Old London Town

I cannot believe how fast time is flying! It’s already mid February! I am cramming so much into each day and every week that I barely know where to start in my recount of it all to you!

Firstly, last Sunday, the lovely Talisa and I visited the West End for an Eastern inspired feast at Chinatown before seeing the live theatre show, Ghost Stories. Talisa was a bit hesitant, I practically dragged her; how scary can it be, IT’S LIVE?! Turns out… FRICKEN SCARY! It was the most bazaar, horrific and suspenseful thing I have seen since I did the live Ghost Walk at Gardaland, Italy, where real actors came at you with chainsaws and knives in the dark, no fear of being sued or scratched! The music, lighting and minimal cast gave the whole show an eerie feeling and I think I broke at least 3 of Talisa’s fingers when I jumped on her on a few occasions during the play… But it was brilliant! Until we got to the underground afterwards and I realised I had lost my Oyster card; the equivalent of a Myki. I was so flustered I ran back into the theatre and got escorted back to the area where we had sat, trying to not be mystified by the resetting of stage, seeing the magic disintegrate in front of my eyes in an awkward, clanking way, resetting for the late show. While the man was down on his knees checking behind and under the seats, I fingered around in my pockets until, in one heart stopping moment, I felt the slick, smooth skin of my Oyster! So embarrassed, of course I kept up the charade, giving a bit of a tear and regretfully leaving my number in case it turned up… then bounded back to the station to take my ride home.

It seemed this was only an omen of the things to come, however, as the next day, I well and truly lost my Oyster. For good. With no sign of it. I also had a horrible day at work and this led to my first really big cry… After unsuccessfully calling my sister (it was only about 11pm back home – thank Allah it wasn’t some ungodly hour!) I called my darling mum… At her first hello, I simply broke down… I felt so guilty for calling her, and she obviously panicked as soon as she heard my emotion, but after assuring her I was FINE just overly EMOTIONAL I let myself be soothed by one of the only people on the planet that can do it with such ease. I sat on a crowded bus, blubbering like an idiot, snot dribbling out my nose as I tried to unsuccessfully locate my tissues (probably on the side of a backstreet with my Oyster and my dignity) and rocking like one of those homeless people that ride the bus for warmth or something to do. I let my mum comfort me and assure me that everything would be ok – because I knew in my heart of hearts that it would be… I was just having my first really bad day. So I came straight home and hoed into the ice cream. I was fine by dinner time.

I have not taught since that day. I have found myself a new job in a cafe/restaurant/bar in Shoreditch that I absolutely love. It is one of those situations where you realise that money is not everything, and sometimes we have to sacrifice some financial perks (in this case, a LOT of financial perks – I am on 6 quid an hour – about $12…) for a bit of happiness and quality of life. No chairs have been thrown at me as yet, and although I did get sworn at by a high hippy lounging on our couch, I generally feel much happier in my work environment and enjoy meeting and talking with the adult sized customers I meet.

I have tried to lay low as much as I could this past week as I am off on my first travel adventure to Germany and Poland next week! However, I did attend a Medieval Banquet that I had pre purchased my ticket to some weeks ago… It was… interesting!

Imagine a cross between Kryall Castle and the Cuckoo… It was in a building that was over 1000 years old and made the perfect backdrop for the King, jesters, wenches and entertainers who would mingle throughout our tables during the night.

We got a 4 course meal – no cutlery of course, medieval banquets would not have been consumed with cutlery! And were instructed that when we required something, we were simply to scream WENCH as loudly as we could, and she would return at our service. Also in tradition, when an act of singing or juggling or harp-playing had finished, instead of applause, we were to bang our firsts on our tables in sign of appreciation! It was a loud, fun evening!

On the way home the entertainment continued as I was sat on the bus only to be approached by a gent who made me feel well uncomfortable. He sat in front of me, and kept craning his neck at an awkward angle to discreetly eye me in the most obvious way possible. I was reading The Virgin Suicides and I could see him eyeing the book, thoughts ticking as to how he could use this to start a conversation… “So, are you a virgin?” …. This was his opening line. I eyed him without putting down my book, and told him that was inappropriate… Ignoring the obvious social cue to piss right off, he continued telling me his life story about how he is making a magazine to encourage people to follow their dreams and be artistic and creative… WHY DO ALL THESE WEIRDOS FIND ME!? Even yesterday, on the bus home again, reading my book, again, some smelly boy covered in scars, scabs and dry skin that I could only attribute to a healthy diet and positive lifestyle choices saddled up next to me and cautiously kept looking over at me… “Excuse me…” here we go… “mmmm,?” “Could you please plug these into your phone, I just really need to listen to some music you know (handing me headphones that looked like they’d seen better days with a scabby hand I was trying to hard to avoid coming into contact with), put on anything, whatever you have.” I only had a few bus stops till I was home, but you know I find it difficult to say no… So I shoved the headphones in and pressed play – I wasn’t even sure where I had left off, he could have been listening to anything from Madonna to Andrea Bocelli… He started drumming his fingers, then enthusiastically tapping his leg, I glanced at my phone; Rhianna, Skin. “THIS IS A GREAT SONG!” he shouted… I just smiled and nodded, happy to have made his day a little brighter.

I also took myself off to see a matinee performance of The Lion King last week. It was absolutely breathtaking, I found myself welling up in the opening bars of Circle of Life as this beautiful black soul belted out the first lines in Afrikaans. For anyone who has seen this spectacular, you know that it is truly impossible to describe the magic of this show. It was definitely a fantastic day!

Another wonderful day was visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

It was so beautiful to see and I was lucky enough to see Jonathan Pryce (recent Artistic Director) just wondering about on the stage!
My photo of him was blurry, and the other photos here don’t do the place much justice, but it was definitely another thing ticked off my bucket list!

Friday night I was lucky enough to score free tickets to the Jonathan Ross Show! I invited Jacinta and Laura along and we had a fantastic evening of laughs, Skittles and Milky Way buttons. The guests on this particular episode were Stephen Fry, Kevin Hart (one of my favourite comedians of all time, I squealed with delight when he was introduced!), Felicity Jones (from The Theory of Everything) and some British cricket player, Freddie Flintoff. It was a great show and although I had always pictured Jonathan Ross to be an arrogant goose, he was actually quite funny and charming, thanking the audience at the end of the recording for coming along and getting involved. We washed down the evening’s events with a nice late dinner.

Sunday Talisa took me for afternoon tea at this incredible cafe called Ottolenghi in Islington owned by the chef Yotam Ottolenghi of the Jerusalem, Plenty and Plenty More cookbooks… To say the choice of what to order was overwhelming would be an understatement.

Everything looked absolutely decadent and amazing; the colors and shapes and combinations of flavours, I was in sweet tooth heaven!
Having said that, I ordered the wrong thing as the label was in the wrong spot… but I ate it anyway and it was delectable; a lemon and marscapone tart. Yum! Definitely need to go back and try some other things!

After that I headed home to prepare dinner for Laura and Jacinta who were coming over to watch The Theory of Everything after being inspired by the beautiful Felicity Jones on Friday night. I even made a mini vegetarian version for Jacinta…

The smell of the Sicilian pasta sauce I made brought on a strong feeling of homesickness. It’s amazing how it hits at the most random times, by the most seemingly innocent scent or sound or thought. It’s incredible how much you can miss home, and be happy in your new surroundings all at the same time. Since I have not taught this week, I find myself being able to enjoy myself more. Which is a shameful thought to me…I’m not as stressed out out and I don’t spend each night fretting and psyching myself up to go to work the next day… I could just feel my passion for teaching being slaughtered day by day as I headed to war each morning; that’s what it felt like. So for now, I will continue being a bit of a night owl. Enjoying meeting new people, learning the difference between a dark and a light ale and getting weird looks when I tell people their bill comes to 12 dollars… Less than one week until Germany! Can’t wait!

Thanks for reading, good people!

Big Love,

The Bug


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