Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Thoughts on Eeenglund

The start of Spamalot opens with the song 'Finland, Finland, Finland, thats the country for me'! with very colofully dressed people, cute little house, fur pines, etc. The narrator cuts the song to a quick close when he yells 'I said ENGLAND, not FINLAND'. The set dissapears into a depressing foggy gloom with faint lighting and rain clouds hovering. A few characters walk solemnly by in manky robes with depressing music. As far as reality goes its pretty accurate.

I realise I write more about what I do and whats happening, and maybe people like to know more about the daily life and what living here is actually like. So I thought id share my thoughts.

Coming into winter its funny to see that londoners almost have a dress code. Fair enough theres only so many coat styles on the market but still. Lace up high heel leather shoes are in fashion. Flat equestrian style boots are the staple foot diet. Tights are selling in the hundreds of thousands. All sorts of patterns. I havnt worn woolen tights since boarding school and here I am now expected to wear them daily as part of a funky (and warm) work wardrobe. so far I have resisted. The other thing i notice is most people here wear wooly hats. Baggy, knitted, wooly hats. Men all carry man bags or laptop bags, umbrella, sometimes hat, nice leather shoes.
You step down a peg into the casual wear domain and this is what you see - boys in english geezer shiny adidas tracksuits, white pull on sneakers and a ciggarette. Or Jeans, white sneakers and denim jacket and a ciggarette. Girls - jeans, puffer jacket or fitted short jacket with hard square handbag, trowled on makeup, blonde hair in pony tail, big hoop earrings, and a ciggarette. Or a kid.

One thing I've noticed, is that in such a busy densely populated city where we are queing and squeezing like sardines at every possible opportunity, is that everyone reserves a mininum of 1-2cm of personal space around them. Yes, this is even on the tube when there is no space to leave space. Your elbow to elbow, nose to nose and everyone must have there little perimeter of space. Do we go out of our way to have this by way of saving our sanity? Do we put extra effort into ignoring everyone because we are face to face with hundreds of people every day? Its the law of town vs country foke personified. The country foke are so far away from each other they grab every chance to be friendly and chat. The towny may ignore his neighbour, or may say hi once a week at the letterbox. Living in the city, woah ignoring and not touching is the top priority! (Disclaimer - this does not apply on oxford street. here, your aim is to bang into, and barge past, as many civilions as possible. go!)

But for all that, it still gives me a little buzz everytime i say to myself 'I'm in London'. And everytime you see the words Christchurch. Or Auckland. Or Albany, or Birkenhead. All these New Zealand places are english names. you just dont realise how much of an english colony we are until you realise this fact. Of course I know we are part of the commonwealth and all our english citizens came from england, ra ra ra, I'm saying its neat when your away from home to see the address 'Birkenhead, Albany, London, SW4 6PY. You think 'thats a place in Auckland! yay!' Yeah me and my little thrills. Gotta get em where you can.

The other day, I spoke to a kiwi guy on the phone. I answer the phone for my department and speak to a lot of english and welsh people. But this was the first maori sounding kiwi I've spoken too. He said something like 'orright, yeah, cheers eh, cheers, by' I smiled and felt a bit patriotic at hearing my homeland slang. see, 'cheers bro' never goes out of fashion.

The other thing about living in London is that after a few months of exploring the town and going out and seeing all the attractions, you soon turn to the reality of having a job, eating sleeping and doing housework. (If you do housework). All my friends here I speak to when you ask 'what have you been up too? just say 'working'. You think, woah, your in London! Life must be more exciting than that surely. No. Maybe for some people with good jobs yes. But for most of us its about working to pay your rent and your oyster card bill. And then eating, sleeping and drinking. Then, if a cheap deal comes in the TNT ( then you grab it and go on a sloshy weekend away with friends or some random place in Russia or Latvia or wherever and then you save for flights home.

The last thing that strikes me and actually strikes all the english people here too, is SAD and the darkness of winter. It starts getting dark at 4pm. By 4:30 its well dark and as good as night time. I left work early last friday, (4:30) and it was dark and the street lights were on. I thought, whats this, Im leaving work early, going out, and it feels like night time. Every day at work we all look out our grey blinds at the grey sky and watch it turning dark just after we have our afternoon coffee. We all get a bit more depressed. Which is the other major issue, is that everyone gets SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) over here. Everyone looks and acts gloomy and depressed. Everyone really looks forward to those sunny holidays with a ferocity never felt by kiwis. It puts new emphasis on 'going to work in the dark, and going home in the dark.' well, now it really is.
On the plus side, at least I can accesorise with at least 6 layers of cute knits, coats, scarves, gloves, hats, boots, tights, skirts......
Wow my english friends are really going to like me after this post. Cheers Bro? :)

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