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The title of the new Samuel L Jackson movie… Keeping with the recent animal-theme, here’s a little story from today.

As we know the Tube is home to several species of animals. Some are harmless like mice and rats, and some are not so much.

This little story is about a spider. It’s nothing monumental, really, so most likely you will be disappointed at the end of it.
I was standing on the Tube, reading my ebook reader (Quo Vadis, if interested*), when I noticed a tiny spider, no bigger than a pinhead, walking about on my sleeve. It had a nice, white body with some sort of a pattern, and tiny brown legs. Since I was underground I did not brush it off; thought I’d wait until I get off.
Suddenly a woman next to me jerked away from me eyes wide, and telling me on an alarmed tone that I have a spider on my coat. From her reaction I thought it was a mutant huntsmen, but no, she spotted the tiny dude.
I smiled at her and told her I knew, but what am I to do? Don’t want to kill it, after all. Some other people joined into the conversation, but you could just see the horror in that woman’s eyes. She actually tried to move away from the vicinity of the scary beast, but the carriage was packed. I carefully transferred the spider onto my ebook reader, and closed the cover- I hoped that in the dark the spider would calm down and stop moving. I put it in my bag, and the story ended for most parties concerned. It turned out the spider did stay put in the dark; it was still in the reader when I got it out in the office. (There is a gap between the cover and the screen; it was unhurt, if you’re curious.) I transferred it to a plant, and our story finally concluded.

I shared this story because of the unlikely reaction of that poor woman. People who know me know that I hate spiders; but at this size even I can’t be bothered to be scared of it. Apparently, not everyone can.

*Only added this detail to show off my literary sophistication, obviously

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London is a strange place. It’s huge and most of it is just rows of suburban houses with extensions, added levels and all sorts of enlargements to accommodate the still growing population; the interesting parts are actually concentrated within quite a small area of a couple of square miles. (This is going to be a pure rant. I thought it is important to warn people before proceeding.)

The public transport -especially the Tube- reflects this perfectly; you can see that the tunnels, the trains, everything was designed for a much smaller crowd. So what you have now is hundreds of people being crammed into narrow walkways. It’s so dense the crowd would keep you upright even if you tripped and fell.

This is not an ideal situation at all. Enter the “average Londoner” (and I know I’m generalizing, and being unfair to a lot of people), and the situation turns to living hell.

It seems like your average Londoner (see disclaimer above) have no inkling of being surrounded by other human beings, despite of the visual, tactile and olfactory clues that prove otherwise. Just a commute in a busy morning is enough to fill you up with murderous rage if I’m honest. Sure, let’s stand in the opening door, obstructing it, so nobody can get on or off; and let’s be pissed off when people actually try to push past. (But don’t make eye contact.) Let’s stay by the doors, leaving the inside of the train virtually empty so nobody else can get on; after all, I’m good, right? But don’t let the guys in the inside get off at their stations, either. Hey, let’s stand on the platform blocking the door for people trying to get on, because I’m waiting for the next train, and want to wait where its door will open… Oh, but now they can’t get on to their train? Screw them! Wait, is there a two and a half meter wide stairway, and I’m not walking faster than the other two people next to me? Sure, let’s block the whole thing, so other’s can’t walk faster, either. Meanwhile they actively avoid looking at you or engage with you in any way; kind of weird to see this whole passive-aggressive commuting hell.

Quite frankly it’s astonishing how inconsiderate people are in London. And it’s not just the alienating effect of a large city; New York is different. Sure, if you try to stop in the walkway while in a crowd, you will be swept away; however people do not behave in such a rude and inconsiderate manner. And it’s not just the traffic. If you go to Camden to club, you’ll see something similar. People will push you away in the dance floor; even women half your size will try to actively push you over so they can move into your place (and be very wary of their stilettos), so the dance becomes a kind of passive-aggressive mosh pit; except moshing is actually quite a cathartic and communal event where nobody actually is trying to hurt you; here people just want to place an elbow into your kidneys. Everywhere else in the UK (and elsewhere in the world) groups can share the dance-floor peacefully; in London (in my experience) it’s a constant fight to retain your position. Or take my dear neighbour, for example (no, not the loud, drunk and aggressive one; I meant the nice, family living next door). He consistently parks his huge SUV in front of the house on the street where two small cars could (well, used to) park, instead of using his own driveway. Which is empty. I’m sure he’s a swell fellow, his friends love him, and he visits his mother regularly, but in reality it just shows that he is a dick for taking up effectively three car’s places with his one aircraft carrier without even thinking of the others -like yours truly- who need to find parking lots in a busy street.

I honestly don’t know what turns people inside out when they come to this city. Perhaps there’s an ancient Celtic curse on the place. Or there’s really just way too many people are trying to share it.

I’ve spent whole of the Sunday (1st of January) recuperating, watching movies, and generally being lazy, and enjoying doing nothing.

The next day I woke up early morning, ironed my shirt, got dressed, and left for work. I did notice that there were very few people milling around in the Tube, but the suspicion only stroke me when I saw the office building was dark…

So yeah. I had a dress rehearsal for going to work on the second day of 2017. I did not know it was a bank holiday.

 

London is full of foxes; that is a known fact. They are everywhere, and they are not shy at all; in fact, they are bolder than your average cat on the street.

Anyhow, we have a relatively large and uncultivable garden at the back of the house, with a small stream serving as a border. (I say “stream”, but it’s more like a sewer…) Naturally enough we have foxes visiting all the time.

My dearest was sitting and smoking one day on the small patio, when a fox jogged up to her. He stopped about a meter and a half from her, drank from a pot full of rain water, peed on her lavenders, and then left without even nodding at her.

I don’t even detail our reaction when we heard some blood-curling cries one night; even though we knew foxes make the most awful noises, it sounded as if he was slowly being skinned. If this is how you sound when you’re having a good time, I don’t want to know how you sound when you’re in a bad mood.

This particular individual has also have a fixation on shoes. We leave the gardening shoes outside normally; after all, the whole place is more of a mud-plain, rather than a garden. One morning I realized that one of my shoes was missing. After some searching we found it in the shrubs by the stream; apparently, the size 10.5 was too large for our thief with a shoe fetish to drag it off. The laces were chewed off, though. Next morning -we should have known better by then- my dearest’s shoe went completely missing; it was lighter and smaller, so Mr Fox could take it away to his den to live out whatever unspeakable desires prompted him to thievery.
To this day I don’t understand why he chose the shoes. Perhaps foxes share this deep-seated need to chew footwear with dogs.