Wednesday 23 August 2006

To London to see the Queen

Hand me the lipstick – Now!

Indeed, my blog has been deafeningly silent, I have been in London and this is my last day before I leave for Amsterdam en route Brussels – by train.

Well, now, they have really banned cosmetic through Heathrow, many who got away with rouge and mascara would have to consider something permanent – Botox, face lift, whatever keeps that look young, sexy and less affected by the strain of negotiating airport security.

The war on terror is now terrifyingly real amongst us and the terrorists only have to think up the next ploy to get us into a tizzy. Now, 11 of the suspects have been charged, it is shame that their attack being so imminent, the evidence is still far from being gathered enough to expect a trial for another 12 to 18 months.

Six nights of 60 hours and still not done

My Oyster card has been screaming at me for the last 2 days that it is about to expire; fine, but really, I do not intend to spend another day in London, I have spent 6 nights and if I may say, tourists do end up spending 6 nights in London.

However, coming from a continental European country where standard of living is higher and the cost of living is considerably lower, I do wonder how they get people to pay the prices I see about the place – it is atrocious to say the least – even with the doubling of prices after the introduction of the Euro, we have a cheaper existence than what Londoners have to put up with.

My 6 night sojourn has been an eye-opener if not experience, I only informed 8 people I was visiting and managed to meet just 6, even in those cases I was pressed for time and opportunity – if I had informed a handful more I would have been stressed beyond the limit in trying to satisfy the needs of meeting, visiting, seeing and staying.

This is only with 6 years away from London, imagine 16 years away from Nigeria and that would be a logistic nightmare requiring an updated version of management software from NASA expeditions – I am definitely not yet looking forward to that prospect.

Left driving for the right side

Many times I get into the argument about whether driving on the left is right or driving on the right in Europe is wrong or less popular around the world.

A good few countries drive on the left, including India, Australia, Canada and Indonesia. Some have switched sides as you will see from the link.

Imagine my consternation to the subconscious predilection to the right-side driving ideal when I find that I am on the wrong side of the road waiting for a bus or I notice that the driver is to my right when I get into a car.

Worse still, sitting in front, my eyes and head are in conflict as I expect to see cars going in one direction and they are not, this especially at turnings.

Then we got on the bus and I can claim priority seating on public transport because I do use a cane; I must note that London is a bit more tolerant compared to our Amsterdam when people with assisted mobility embark.

Do sit in my seat

Twice, at least, I was offered a seat on the tube, but when we got on a bus, a “lady” with more plastic bags than a Sainsbury’s counter got on and simply barked my friend off his seat beside me demanding to sit down.

At first we thought he had occupied reserved seats, but that was not the case, as the woman murmured without respite letting ladies have seats on buses, but she was no lady, not even if I stretched my imagination.

When we got to the last stop, she got off and started rummaging through the rubbish bins – that was our brush with the Mental Health – Care in the Community programme – if the medication does help bring good manners to the fore, she must have skipped her required dosage, where I could have had compassion, I had anger, disdain and disgust – I am only human.

Some have even suffered worse fates from those encounters, we only suffered a rude situation, and we can live with that.

Exciting Kitchen rage

On the Friday, we went up to a Nigerian Restaurant on Kinsland Road near Dalston in East London and we had the pepper soup and suya for entrées then as they had no okra soup we plumbed for the spinach and red stew.

This was the second time I felt like asking for an apron to invade the kitchen and teach a few ideas about cooking Nigerian stew – not only was it greasy and unpalatable, it completely put us off we could hardly try the beef in the stew.

The waitress then suggested a doggie-bag and in an unguarded response I rebuffed with the comment that my dogs would refuse the meal. Well, that was the truth, only it was not expressed in the finesse of tone, context and delivery.

I apologised, but I do hope that the message was clear that if another visit to that place records a failing of the sort we have once endured; my review of the place would be less appreciative than this one.

A changing London

All the area around London Bridge has changed considerably in 6 years from the City Hall and interesting performances in the bowl beside the building and those anti-skateboard knobs on the concrete platforms all down to Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge and the London Eye.

I cried off the London Eye, the queues were as long as burger-gluttons lining up for a fat expensive burger at Hard Rock cafe or was it Planet Hollywood. The VIP express – jump-the-queue tickets were not only twice as expensive, the queue did not seem to be moving any faster either.

The view from the London Eye is not exactly a view to die for, having looked from the 7th floor of Tate Modern did not show an amazing skyline rivaling New York, I can safely give that a miss for now.

London again?

Would it be another 6 years before I return? Probably … I cannot say I am that enamoured about London per se.

However, catching up with friends and family and seeing how so grown up those little kids have become is testament to the fact that time does fly and the accumulation of passing time adds up to what makes everyone exclaim – Has it really been that long ago since you were here? Well, yes, it has.

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