We caught the train to London and were greeted on our arrival by Malcolm’s secretary Gill. After somehow managing to stuff the suitcases into the back of a little Renault Clio we made our way from Waterloo Station to New Cross.
And we have been here ever since. In the last couple of weeks we have seen St Paul’s cathedral, climbed the Monument, and walked a long way. We also spent one memorable afternoon at the DSS applying for a National Insurance number (I shall take a book next time). We have seen an exhibition of Rembrandt’s self portraits at the National Gallery and been to a performance of Look Back in Anger at the National Theatre. On Monday night we are seeing The Importance of Being Earnest at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.
Kathryn has registered with several employment agencies and a high-paying job is just days away. She is doing a week of temp work next week.
Unfortunately the Goodies and Monty Python are not on TV every night as I had hoped. In fact they aren’t on at all. Still, Not the Nine O’Clock News is very funny and the Simpsons are on BBC2 (no ads).
The Italian Job has just been re-released in the cinemas here and I hope to see those Mini Coopers driving up and down stairs on the big screen. If you have never seen it, go and rent it now. The car chase is better than the Blues Brothers.
Yes, London is incredibly expensive, especially travel. Petrol costs 70p/L, not that that affects me but if you start converting all the prices into AUD then you won’t buy anything. It is almost true that what you can buy with a £ and a $ roughly equate. An all day travel card costs £3.80, a sandwich from Pret a Manger (very nice and our staple lunchtime diet) costs about £2.80 and a coke is about 75p. It must be the climate because bottles are 500ml and cans are 330ml.
How’s the weather
You know how when it has been a really hot day in Adelaide, say 35 – 40 degrees, there is usually a story in the Advertiser with a picture of some pretty girl frolicking in the surf at Glenelg? Well there was one of those in the Evening Standard last week. The caption told how the temperature soared to 29 degrees in some places.
It has been unusually warm in London since we arrived with temperatures hovering around 30. The city is obviously not prepared for such heatwaves. Even many large stores have no airconditioning and the tube is unbearable. The ventilation in a tube really must be not felt to be believed. Not only are the tubes not airconditioned, on some of them the only ventilation is a tiny sliding grille. Stoopid.
I don’t know if you have seen anything on TV but the Millenium Wheel – the biggest ferris wheel in the world, 100ft taller than Big Ben – spectacularly failed to rise yesterday. Hundreds of people lined Westminster Bridge and the Thames bank to watch three of the biggest cranes in the world lift the wheel upright at a staggeringly boring speed of 14 inches every 5 minutes. It was meant to start going up at 7am and finish at about 11pm. I hoped they had brought a packed lunch. I passed them on the train at about 9am. It still looked flat to me. On the way home that night it was still level. I guess they’ll try again in a couple of days.
The Solar Eclipse
How could I forget? On the day we first arrived in London (11/8/99) we went into town to have a look around. As we walked around Picadilly Circus we wondered why people were looking upwards. I figured it was merely a human fly scaling a building and so paid them little attention. Then as were eating our lunch (a shared ciabatta and water: £6.25) I commented that it seemed dark for 11am and wasn’t the weather funny in the UK. As we left the cafe it suddenly dawned on us that we were right in the path of one of the most astounding coincidences of our solar system. Something that people pay thousands of pounds chasing around the world. We looked up. There was a thin layer of cloud but we could clearly see the sun with a huge bite taken out of it. Cool. We stared dumbly for a moment, permanently damaging our retinas and continued on our way.
And that brings us up to date. As I sit here Concorde has just thundered overhead on its way to Heathrow and the sun is setting over the rooftops of New Cross. I think it’s time for dinner. “Kathryn?…”