To begin: I read one of the funniest things I've ever read today. Stuff White People Like. It's a blog, it's hilarious, I wish so much I wrote it. Google it, laugh, then come back to me (don't abandon me for the funny guys!) The guy who writes it has now released a book of the same name - I am going to buy it and put it with the other stack of books I have by my bed, ready to read, when I finally get the time. I'm very much looking forward to doing this. And in other news, London news? Well, local elections seem to be on. I have a threatening letter from Hammersmith and Fulham Council asking me to register. I distinctly remember registering and voting some time ago. Why isn't that good enough? Why register again? On my way home tonight the streets were full of people who seemed to have some great purpose (they were walking in a certain way, I can't really describe it - purposeful, I guess?) and there was a sign up on the gates of the local primary school that announced the way to the polling station. I think I have missed my chance to vote. Feeling a little guilty, after the suffragettes went to so much trouble to secure me that vote and all, but not too overly concerned - will vote when the people I'm voting for wield some power and might make some difference.
I am currently more concerned with the price hikes in tube and bus fares for 2010. Big price hikes, particularly on buses. That's going to affect a lot of people (not me really, but for once I'm thinking about people other than me). And on the one hand, I get it - TfL has no money, they need money, ergo, fares have to rise - but on the other it's just another blow for so many, isn't it? And Boris Johnson blaming others for it right, left and centre - whether it's true or not, it makes him look petty and unable to cope. I distinctly remember his pre-election promise of a flat bus fare, no matter how many buses you catch, to cover you for an hour - a good idea, great even, as London buses often just don't get you where you need to go in one ride. Not a lot has been said about that post-election. I'm prepared to bet nothing has been said, in fact. That promise is hanging out at the North Pole with Santa and Elvis, drinking no-hangover wine and planting money trees. This is what happens when an entire city votes for its leader based on his funny hair, and the fact you can call him BoJo. Oh, and yes, I did vote that time.
Enough ranting. Enough politics. Back to me, and London, and how this is going to affect London. Will it stop people catching the bus and tube so often? Will more people cycle to work? Will fewer people go out at night? We won't know until later in 2010, as only a complete idiot ventures out in January or February (yes, come January and February, you can look forward to many posts detailing the wild varied exploits of Condiments on a City Life - a city life that takes place entirely in a flat made of cardboard and some MDF and measures approximately 6 x 6 metres, total. Trading Standards will probably have me up in front of them for the misleading name).
It would be a real shame if fewer people went out, long term that is, not just in January and February. London at night is brilliant. Ghastly and horrible, yes, but really in just the most fantastic way. I was out last Wednesday at some industry awards - I know this sounds a bit show-offy, but just wait - the Housewares Awards, to be specific. Don't laugh too hard.
It was actually a really fabulous evening. I got to dress up, I got Champagne, I got to hang out with lovely people, eat delicious food, and watch as my hosts won their category. The only unfortunate bits were getting there and getting back. It was raining, so the tube shut down, because this is what happens when it rains in London. I got as far as High Ken, then had to try to catch a bus to my final destination, waiting in the rain, fearful of being late and having to walk in when everyone was already sitting down for dinner, and everyone looking at me and my frizzy hair and rain soaked dress. I would have caught a black cab, but every one that came my way had its light firmly off, and smug, dry people in the back.
The right bus did eventually show, I got on and made it with ten minutes to spare, had a lovely time, then braved it all again to get home. It had stopped raining by this time, and the tube was running again, so I made it to Notting Hill no problems, before waiting the interminable length of time I always wait at Notting Hill. What is the station before Notting Hill when heading south on the District line? Is it Bayswater? What sort of a black hole is Bayswater, that it just kind of sucks all the Wimbledon-bound trains in, holding them for hours at a time before letting them go? What happens in Bayswater? I may have to go visit one day - do a bit of investigating and see whether I can see the reasons for this complete dearth of Wimbledon trains making it to Notting Hill in a reasonable time.
So, you may have gathered I spent some time waiting at Notting Hill. I got in some good people watching during this time (due to show-offy event I was carrying a tiny, impractical clutch instead of my usual inelegant, giant tote that will one day be directly responsible for a painful back condition) so had nothing to read (being a true Londoner now, I like to shut myself off from the masses and ignore, ignore, ignore!)
Well, I'm glad I didn't, this time. People in London at night are funny.
I saw the ones you always see. Look for them next time you're out post 11:30pm. They're awesome. My favourites, in order of preference, are:
- Drunk girl - she walks past you, on her phone. You admire her extremely cool jacket, as it sways past you, then you think 'hang on. Why is her jacket at such an odd, precarious angle?' Then you realise it's not her jacket, it's her! If you're lucky, she'll turn around at this point, treating you to a view of her smudged mascara, caused by her tear-stained eyes. Tear-stained because - could it be? - YES. She is having an argument with her boyfriend on her mobile. You've struck gold. Relax and enjoy.
- Theatre-goers. Often tourists, sometimes not, wearing the Dirty Dancing t-shirt over their original clothes, carrying a giant plastic bag emblazoned with the Dirty Dancing logo, full of Dirty Dancing plastic, um, stuff (I'm not sure what - what do people buy as souvenirs from musicals? This confuses me.) They are, invariably, singing the songs from Dirty Dancing (this is true even when they've clearly been to another musical, like Grease). Good god they're annoying! But all part of the greater picture, and they are annoying in a really very enjoyable way.
- The creepy older guy. By himself, looking and being creepy. He's generally dressed in a really nondescript way, but in such a way that you can't figure out why he's out. He's not coming home late from work, he can't have been out for dinner in those clothes, he's not coming home from the pub because then he would be walking, not coming from central. He's just there, being...creepy. Avoid, but do let me know if you figure out his purpose.
- The confused older couple. A little boring this one, but oh, so sweet. Their names are things like Mary and David, and they're always so confused, trying to work out why that girl's jacket is on crooked and why the girl in the dress is carrying such a stupidly small bag and smirking. They went out to dinner with friends (Edith and John), and they didn't mean to stay out so late, but were having such a nice time that it just happened. And now they won't be home before 11 after all, and why is the train taking so long, anyway?
Lovely. A nice one to end on, that. And end I must, because I have written far too much, and rather expect that nobody will still be bothering to read my ravings. Which shall continue...until next time...