Friday, July 22, 2011
In my junior year of college, I went abroad to "study" in London. Although all my friends were headed off to exotic locales like Madrid, Prague, Tel Aviv, Arizona, I always knew I'd go to London. I had dreamed of the city ever since I saw Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and the Nanny. That accent just got to me. I pretended to be British all the time as a kid, though I think people probably just thought I had a speech impediment. Anyway, off to London I went.
It was similar enough to NYC, where I was attending college, to make for an easy transition but different enough to make for interesting adventures. The first thing I noticed was how expensive it was. Damn. Coming from NY, that was saying a lot. I found a job working in a Uni pub. Every single student from the University of London it seemed went to the same Uni pub where I worked on Wednesday and Thursday nights. For some ridiculous reason, I was assigned to be a pre-bouncer. Given that I am "not a particularly large person"--as I have now been told twice by the nurse at my pediatrician's office when I asked about why my son's weight gain has slowed...backhanded compliment?--me up against hundreds of Brits and their liquor was no match. I was supposed to find the ones who looked right pissed and pass them off to the real bouncer (a huge guy named Marcus) so he could make sure they didn't throw any punches or vomit on the property. Ah, vomit. I never in my life so so much public vomiting as I did that year. Vomit on the bus, in the street, in the dorm hallway. After a few weeks, Marcus called me over for a chat and told me to "cut out that American shite of wishing people a good night as they leave." Apparently, he found my inbred politeness annoying as hell and made me knock it off. This might have been rude if not delivered in that awesome accent. You could tell me anything in British and I would find it charming.
The best part of working at the pub was that at the end of the night I could usually find about 20 pound coins on the floor. They apparently come out of your pants pocket easily when you've had upwards of 15 beers. As part of the cleanup crew, I got to keep these earnings, which provided a nice, steady tip. Some might call scrounging for coins on the floor pathetic, but I thought I was enterprising.
For some reason (beer?), the only class I remember taking was a modern art class that I loved. That spring break, I did the whole eurail trip across Western Europe and got to see all the paintings we studied in person. I also gained 10 pounds despite the fact that I hated all the food--why ruin a perfectly good peanut butter sandwich with mayo? Instead I ate my meals out of the ubiquitous Cadbury chocolate vending machines. And maybe my newfound appreciation for beer might have had something to do with the extra jelly. Maybe.
I hear the food has changed much in recent years, which is exciting because I'm planning to head back to London town in September. Mr. Schneed has a business trip and I'm tagging along. That is, if I can muster the strength to leave Mr. Monk with his grandmothers for five or six days. Hey, look kids, there's Big Ben!