Wednesday, 4 January 2012

London, you got me.

Time to post about something positive, yes? OK kids, hold onto your shorts, it's gonna be an upbeat one!

I live and work in London at the moment.  Originally from Aotearoa (aka the Land of the Long White Cloud and Excellent Flat White, aka Australia's poor cousin, aka New Zealand), I have been in the UK since May 2010, following nearly a year in the US.  I completely adored the States.  We lived in New York City, which is JUST like a giant playground for grown ups.  A cliché - but very true.  The live music of New Orleans and Nashville was a euphonic revelation, the fall colour in New England a pumpkin-hued daydream.  My love for the US was not however reciprocated, and I got the boot from the Immigration Service after completing my study programme there.  P and I were in no way ready to head back to financial and job security in NZ, despite having squandered our meagre savings on tipping bartenders and riding the A train, so we decided to take a chance on the only other country that offered jobs, visas and couches to sleep on: the UK. 

When we first arrived in London, I did not love it.  There was more green space than New York, and London is at its finest in spring, but I was unemployed and broke, living with P, my soon to be brother- and sister-in-law in a 1 bed apartment and I was certain that nothing would compare to NYC's glories.  It took me a long time to fall in love with London.  Nonetheless, it has happened.  Like any frustrating but addictive lover, London has played a very good game of hard to get - you often need to go looking and text many friends to discover what London's up to, but ultimately you discover the best bits by accident.

On Tuesday, P and I caught the tube to St John's Wood and went for a wander.  We peered into windows of enormous houses; sauntered over Primrose Hill and down into Camden Town; idly watched Regent's Canal wanderers, dogs chasing balls and tourists hunting for a Camden Market 'bargain' (eff off with the 'Seksi' Pepsi-logo t-shirts will you crap-vendors?  Who buys that shit?  Glad I'm up here on my high horse and am not the girl who purchased some knockoff perfume that smelled like 10 year old Red Door in a market in Vietnam, that'd be embarrassing, right?).  P decided he fancied a spot of French cuisine, but when we rolled up to the address on Delancey Street that Google Maps advertised as Chez Georges, there was a Greek restaurant run by George.  Terrible décor, a downstairs dining room without natural light and a problem with the toilet lock that led to a very embarrassing run-in with one of the other patrons (let the record show I DID NOT SEE HIS WILLY).  But we had a fabulous time! The food was delicious and the people were lovely.  I preferred the selection of starters - I think that it was the first time I have eaten an adult octupus tentacle (you may be thinking that it should be easy to remember whether I've consumed a big tentacle in the past (NOT a euphemism) but I've had my share of mystery meat in seaside locations (also not euphemisms), where baby octopi have arrived on the plate accompanied by other indeterminate fishy fleshy delights.  Doesn’t eating baby-anything sound like a crime?  But baby octupuseseses are quite tasty!).


I'm no food blogger so I won't give you the details of each tasty morsel that passed these lips.  Also, I feel like an asshole when I take pictures of my meal so you're not getting any more of those, but the point of this wee story was that for each time London disappoints, it throws up something unexpected and lovely.  I can't even recall the name of this Greek restaurant (Delancey Street, one block from the main drag) but I'd recommend it and I'd like to go back for the live music Fridays.  We wandered off down the road, slightly groggy, stuffed with good food marinated in Metaxa, Ouzo and Nemean wine, to hop on the tube at Mornington Crescent.  Which reminded me of something else I love about London; the determined 'not-looking-at-you' vibe on the tube. 


Actually, I love the tube full stop, weird as that might seem.  Picture this: NYE, approx 1am.  Man tenderly holds his girlfriend and cups his hand to catch her spew.  He then lovingly places a magazine over her face to shield her from strangers.  I shit you not; this guy was in love with his completely mothered girlfriend and it was evident in every line of his body as he held her and the vom.  Gross as it was, I found it adorable and completely sweet.    

*Apologies for extremely poor picture quality.  Was trying to take pictures subtly ... and failed miserably.  Got quite a bit of side eye following this on the tube, after they all looked around a bit to work out if I had been taking a picture of someone famous.

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