Dirty Old Town

I swear I’ll start writing about food as soon as I can afford to. Meanwhile, I’ll blather on about other shit.

Yesterday, as I was trying to find a key-cutter so C and I could put an end to staying up until the other arrived home from work (usually between midnight and 2am), a man mumbled something at me on the street.

You know, you could try smiling, life isn’t so hard.

I had no chance to respond as I was too busy trying to get home, but I was insulted a) just because I don’t walk down the street with a psychotic smile on my face doesn’t mean I hate the world, and b) THER IS SO MUCH POLLUTION HERE MY EYES, THROAT, AND CHEST ARE SO BLOODY PISSED OFF I CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO CARE WHAT MY FACE LOOKS LIKE TO STRANGERS.

Not an illusion — this building has not been cleaned. 

Black sludge coming out of my nose was expected. The coughing and sneezing are mild irritants. And though my eyes are always dry and a bit sore, this feels like I’ve been awake for 50 hours and have pink eye (without the itch and the colour, basically my eyes weep and crust constantly).

I am so gross.

But this should have been anticipated. I grew up in a city of 1,000 sq. miles with a population of 800,000. London houses 8,000,000 people in a 607 sq. mile area. Say wha? Holy shit.

Waterloo train station at the beginning of rush hour — most people are still at the pub.

The day I arrived, I was reading some general info on the city provided to me by my Visa organizers. Apparently, living in the UK is 10% more costly than in Canada. Living in London is 30% more expensive than living anywhere else in the UK. I should have crunched some numbers. This is no way to pay down a student loan. Especially when having 2 keys cut costs £10.

And while I presently spend 54CDN weekly on my transit pass, and my 5×8’ room in Zone 3 is almost as much as my downtown apartment back home, surprisingly food is rather inexpensive. Regardless of what you buy, for some inexplicable reason, in Centretown (Canada), four items at the grocer will cost you twenty dollars. Every time. But here, I return from the shop with enough to keep me going for a week (7 items) for £12.

Did I mention all the museums are free? As long as you can afford the tube or bus ride, there are hundreds of things to see that are free of charge. I spent a twenty whole minutes in the museum at the Royal London Hospital, famous for having housed The Elephant Man. They have his hat on display.

Also, parks. People seem to know what to do in parks here. At home parks are often havens for junkies, because they are a small square block and sometimes don’t even have grass. But London knows how to park. Hyde and Regent’s parks are the two I’ve spent some times in, but sprinkled throughout the city there are parks that, though smaller than some of the ones back home, have actually been cultivated and loved rather than just dumped there.

The view from outside Le Cordon Bleu. 

Hyde Park has a giant horse path that circles it.

You can sunbathe in Hyde Park…when it’s sunny, and you have £4 for half an hour.

Or just sit in a courtyard. Maybe you’ll find some tourists being attacked by pigeons.

 

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