Friday dawned not so bright but plenty early for me. Oh, Gods of Jetlag, please have mercy! I try not to calculate my sleep-hours-to-waking-hours ratio too accurately, but I am plenty tired of waking up between 5:30 and 6:30, thank you. Enough of that. Please.
So. I knew I was going back to the British Museum because I wanted another stab, but I had some time before it opened, so I went over to the Internet cafe with the early hours over in Oxford Street, and wandered through Debenhams, where I saw a lot of designer things I probably will never buy. But then a lovely makeup woman asked if I wanted a makeover. Did I? Absolutely! I pictured myself as an understated woman of glamour, the kind of woman who doesn’t grace magazine covers because she is too refined. Me, I was thinking of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. And, dammit, I’m in London! I NEED a makeover!
Well. The woman was obviously working for the Scary Clown Bureau, because when she was done with me, I was bronzed to a sort of chrysanthemum shade, with candy pink, frosted eighties lips. Seriously, Vicky Pollard would do a double take. I used several kleenexes to wipe myself off as much as I could, but I still felt a little bit yucked. The woman and I obviously had very different ideas of how to improve my looks.
So. Onto the British Museum, particularly for thee Eye-opener tour about the gods of ancient Britain. She was a great guide and shed some light onto a subject I know little about, apart from Marion Zimmer Bradley books. But the best? The best was that they recently found some buried offerings to a goddess named Sedonia. Yeah, new goddess for Britain! She resembles Athena in a lot of ways, and the hoard they found was commissioned at least in part, by a woman with a Latin name. High class. Could write (her name at least). Pretty cool stuff.
I had lunch with my friend Amy and her husband Ulrik. They have just moved here and Ulrik has a job with a great company. When he had to go back to work, Amy and I took a walk to re-register me at the hostel (no problem, just a glitch in booking) and we sat down over a couple of pints to talk. It turns out Amy has been having the most awful time with her thesis advisor. I’d like to punch him in the nuts, he’s such an ass. He doesn’t think Amy should get her PhD. Not because she’s not intelligent enough, but because he doesn’t really approve of what she does. The ass. Amy’s hoping living in London will rechartge her batteries and desire to work. I hope so as well.
Then off to dinner with my internet friend, Mrs Magic. Her real name is Anne, but we usually just call her Madge. Our friend Ladelley and L’s husband and baby daughter came as well, which was really cool. The thing about meeting people from the internet is, if you’ve known them a long time, it’s not meeting a stranger. It’s meeting someone whose mind you already know. And so it was the opposite of awkward for us all.
They asked me what I was doing and I said I had a date with a fiftysomething man to watch the football, which they laughed at.
But Pete wasn’t there. However, Scotch Robbie was, and he and I talked politics, the past, and morality for a while. Robbie’s been a manager of several construction crews for over 20 years. So when I asked him why Ian and Franco (THAT’s the name of the guy with one ear bigger than the other) thought I was staying at a French brothel, he laughed. ‘They haven’t really been anywhere, those two. And hostels are about freedom and a certain promiscuity, at a certain age. They haven’t traveled enough to see that there are ways of doing things beyond their own.’.
And then I sort of lost my mind. Because here was a middle class value looking right down its nose on a working class value. And I could tell I have definitely bought real estate on Bourgeois Boulevard. Even if I don’t want to, my bread is buttered on the white-picket-fence side. And there’s nothing I can do about that.
Robbie introduced me to Northern Dave (seventy, missing teeth, roguish gleam in eye), West Country Dave (seventy, shy, scarecrow of a man) and Dave of No Geographical Appelation (slightly pompous), so we chatted for a while.
Now, the pub up the corner closes at 11, so Robbie grabbed West Country Dave and me to go to a birthday party at another pub, ‘Just for a drink’.
Almost the first thing I noticed was the pair of King Charles Spaniels peeking through the skylight on the roof.
‘Robbie, there are dogs on the roof.’
‘Oh, yeah,’ he said equably, ‘They’re the landlady’s. She’s a flat up there.’
The Birthday Boy was someone named Neil, who was about ninety, but very spry. He danced a lot, and occasionally had a small refreshing nap. Franco and Ian where there so we chatted for a while. There were also a couple of large Swedish men who kept requesting ABBA abd Ace of Spades. When the DJ actually played their songs, hey danced around like a couple of shaven water buffalo trying to dislodge flies. It was a hazard to be within their blast radius. At one point, West Country Dave looked at the floor in front of me and said that he wasn’t good at dancing but if he was he’d ask me, but he was never very good with the ladies. I said it was onaky, that I’d prefer not to be injured by flying Swedes.
At some point, an Irish guy came up and introduced himself to me. I did not like the way he looked at my boobs, but felt reassured when he noticed my claddagh ring. ‘Lucky fellow’, he commented.
‘He is,’ I agreed, and turned back to the conversation I was having.
This guy kept watching me and it was kind of creepy. He kept making conversation. Of course, I had to ask him to repeat himself, because his accent was so strong. Then I answered politely and turned back to my original conversation. At this point, West Country Dave was asleep sitting up at the bar, and I had propped a chair behind him to make sure he didn’t hurt himself. Irish guy kept on asking me if I wanted a drink. ‘No,’ I said, I’ve had enough. ‘I’m going home.’
‘Oh, I’ll go with you,’ he said.
‘That’s okay. I can manage. You have a full pint.’
‘So have another one. It’s on me,’ he said.
‘No thanks, I’m done.’
He was persistent, and not in a good way.
So, readers, I did that girl thing. I threw a strop and left. He called from the corner but I just kept walking and then I was inside the hostel, just me and the alleged French prostitutes. And even a multitude of alleged French prostitutes is better than one guy who can’t understand that no means no and that a woman knows her own mind enough to be able to make her own decisions.