When you walk off a plane into a new city, and you are jet-lagged, you have a number of choices. Here’s a quick quiz: What do you do to beat jet lag?
a) You can see some sights, walk around, wander the city, get used to the transit system, and then go to bed early, drinking plenty of water to compensate for dehydration on the plane.
b) You can do all of those things and then walk into a pub and ask about the football match. And then keep drinking and talking until 2AM.
If you chose b), congratulations! You have chosen the MonkeyPants option for acclimatizing in a new city.
I did not want to stay out late; let’s get that right. But it was about seven PM and the hostel was deserted, and I was bored, so I went for a walk. And I saw a pub. It seemed safe enough because of the large percentage of working class fiftysomething men at the bar, nursing pints and speaking sharply to the huge TV screen. So, thinking of Sarah’s advice, and how I didn’t want to go to bed too early, because where’s the fun in that? I went inside.
I leaned on the bar and asked for a half-pint of beer. (Jet lag, remember? I am not actually wimpy.) The barmaid gave me something called Speckled Hen, which was too girly. So. I had a second half-pint, this time somethng called John Smith. A much better beer.
By now I was getting advice and commentary about the match from Pete, a man with a working-class London accent and kind eyes. Because I was standing by Pete, who was kind of like that pub’s Norm, I met a bunch of other people, including Ian, who had allegedly been beat up by bikers, so walks with a cane, and his friend whose name I will surely recall at some point, who had one ear larger than the other.
Well, I had another half-pint and talked a while to Ian and his friend, and they introduced me to Chris, who seemed intent on impersonating Shaft. He went around the corner and lost his hat, but brought his dog, a staffie cross, to meet me.
We talked about all kinds of things, drug laws and everything, and werehaving a great time, until it was suggested that I didn’t really love E because I came to the UK without him. To which I responded that they were knuckle-dragging troglodytes with no sense of proportion. It was cool that I didn’t care about smoking pot, that I could travel comfortably alone, that I thought a woman could earn a fair wage and not depend on a man, but I didn’t actually love mine because I wasn’t traveling with him? Bollocks to that, you lot of chauvanist cunts.
Ah, testosterone, you great leveler of the playing field. If a woman doesn’t stay home to wash her man’s socks, she is obviously a brazen hussy with no sense of duty or romantic love. Because that makes sense. Whatever.
So later, I’m walking home, and Ian and his friend whose name I will surely recall at some point, are walking with me, and Ian is shocked that I’m staying at the hostel.
‘The French place? You’re staying here? At the FRENCH place?’ He looks disproportionately scandalized.
‘Um, yeah. Is there a problem with that?’
‘It’s just, it’s well, it’s..It’s horrible!’
I look around. There are a few girls from the German school group smoking on the steps. ‘What?’
‘It’s an awful place! Prosssies and drugs, and…’
‘Uh, those aren’t prostitutes, you moron. They’re German scoolgirls.’
‘Look, why don’t you stay at Chris’s?’
‘Because I’m staying here.’
At this point the conversation deteriorated. Possibly he thinks I am a prostitute or drug user. Or maybe he was just beng gallant. But whatever. He spoke several times of my not living up to my potential. I think that might have been code for ‘wear tighter fitting clothing’. I’m not really sure. But it was an interesting experience, and it showed me one thing: The partriarchy is alive and well, and wants me chained to the stove in Vancouver, just so my man doesn’t miss a meal. Alternately, it wants me to sleep with random Englishmen because obviously I can’t be that serious about E, if I’m drinking beer and watching football in London.
Hussy that I am, I’m going back to watch the match with Pete tonight.