The British Museum Kicked My Ass, But London Loves Me.

The British Museum is just too big to see. It defeated me. I tried. I really did. But I knew I was beaten when I just started taking random pictures of things in the hopes that it would make sense.

Feet aching, I boarded a bus. Easier to see stuff and be driven around, right?It was one of the best things I coould have done. With my head full of Sutton Hoo and mummies and the Elgin Marbles, as well as a hundred other archaeological miracles, I headed out of Central London and went Northeast for a while. It was a sunny day, and let me tell you, this is one gorgeous city in the sunshine. I passed out beyond the tourist zone and began to see everyday people living everyday lives. I saw a dozen shops I wanted to investigate, but my feet were that sore that I wasn’t going to be able to drag myself off the bus. So I didn’t. I just watched life go by.

Earlier in the day I’d been in the Kingsland Road area, which has a high Afro-Carribean population. Now, even further Northeast, a high population of Orthodox Jews. At one point I looked down from the top deck to see a group of Orthodox Jewish men of all ages gathered around some kind of cooking apparatus. I want to say barbecue, but it seemed to be more of a barrel in which to steam things. In the brief seconds the bus rolled past, I realized that, for all I try to learn about how others live their lives, there’s always something else to learn. Then a little boy with the traditional hat and sidelock ran across the road, money for candy clutched in his hand, and I forgot to be philosophical.

Well, I was pretty hungry by the time I got back close top Central London, and I was dithering between fish and chips and quick pasta. But where was the 73 bus? For once, was London’s transit system letting me down? The sun was sinking rapidly and I was beginning to get cold and irritated.

‘You lookin’ fuh da 73, luv?’ There is a giant bald man addressing me.


‘It don’t run between 5 and 6:30. You gotta catch it at the common up there. ‘S the stupidest arsing thing, ain’t no sign posted, is ‘ere?’

‘Wow, that’s really strange.’

‘Stupidest fing. Ya wants to go home a night, ya got to go to da common. Just up the road, two stops. Take any bus.’

‘Hey, thanks!’

This brings me to another observation: Everyone I have asked for help has been unfailingly polite. Several, like the gentle bus stop giant above, have gone out of their way to volunteer information to me. Granted, I am not stopping in front of juggernaut Citry types, interrupting their blackberry work. But, really, everyone is so damn nice here. It’s a little unnerving. London, where is your brusqueness? Not that I’m complaining, cause you sure know how to make a girl feel welcome. But why so nice? What do you want from me? (Apart from all my money and a heartfelt respect for the people who live here).

Anyhow. It’s time for me to go meet some internet friends. I sort of feel like I’ll be meeting celebrities! Next installment: Beers with Amy, meeting Mrs M, and a raucous birthday party featuring dogs, class struggle, Swedish guys dancing to ABBA, an Irishman, and three old guys named Dave.

2 Comments to “The British Museum Kicked My Ass, But London Loves Me.”

  1. By erin, April 19, 2008 @ 9:31 am

    I’ve been the BM and I agree – it’s pretty crazy! I went a few times on one trip, each time for just an hour or so. That way I enjoyed what I looked at and didn’t feel overwhelmed.

    Are you taking pictures? Will we get to see any of your adventures?

  2. By Liz, April 21, 2008 @ 6:49 am

    Erin, they’re on my Flickr page, but I’ll have some up with a link in a bit.

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