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Monday, November 14, 2005 


Today I took a rather important step towards becoming a proper Londoner: I bought an Oyster Card.

I used to be a carnet kind of girl, but that really doesn't help when you want to venture out into the wild unknown world of Zone Two and Beyond. Also, I got tired of buying bus tickets and always running out. And, oh yeah, there were the recurring nightmares....

*in Monica's fast asleep mind*
Monica, sitting at her desk, studying vigorously.
*BANG!!* as the door is kicked in. Mayor Ken Livingstone and several Met police officers rush in. MKL grabs Monica by the scruff of her neck and hair, turns her around, pushes her face up against a wall and pulls her arm behind her and bends it upward painfully, like they always do in movies.

Monica: Oh dear God please stop!
MKL: And why should I? Rumor has it, Reid, you've been using tube tickets. Purchased at time of travel.
Monica: I, I, I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Ow! [starts to break down in tears]
MKL: So what's it going to be? Oyster or a broken wrist?
Monica: Look, I don't take the tube a lot. I walk to work! I walk to the Tesco! Please!! Pleaaaase!
MKL: Shut up! I could give a rat's ass how often you take the tube!
Monica: *sobs*
MKL: When will you fuckers learn? After I raise it to 3 pounds for a one way journey in Zone One this January? How about four quid? Five??!?! [leans on arm]
Monica: No, no! Please stop!!!
MKL: We're already the most expensive subway system in the world. You want to make it worse?!?!
Monica: I will buy one, I promise!!!
MKL lets go and pushes Monica to the ground. He puts a foot on her neck and presses down.
MKL: I got CCTV all over that muthafucka. Carnet won't save you anymore. Oyster, got it? Let's go boys. I got 7 Million Londoners in 1 London to get through to.

Funny, though, after having bought said Oyster Card, I didn't need to use it today. A nice young man walked up to me in Waterloo station this morning and just handed me his Zone 12 day travel card. Didn't say a word to me, didn't hit on me, nothing. Londoners are so lovely. A little after six that evening back in Waterloo, I returned the favor to a stunned man queued up in a very long line at the ticket window. What an interesting day of Pay It Forward, London Underground-style.

ive been reading your blog for a little while now, i find it quite witty.
as a frenchman living in london i can definitely relate to some aspects of what you write about...

Why would a vegetarian need an oyster card?

Mayor Livingstone's door-to-door technique is not nearly as charming as Hugh Grant's.


I like the pay-it-forward

Hi Monica!
i really like your blog. I am also trying to relocate to London from NYC for college (Middlesex University). Any advice? Can you tell me about your quest for student loans?

It's not pay-it-forward, it's just that Londoners have an inate sense of irony.

(And if you decide to respond to Anonymous' request for info on the student loan experience, please just put it on your blog to save me the trouble of asking you when I go to Cardiff)

i don't know... that Livingstone barrage sounded kind of hot.

Hi, yes, of course.

I took out American loans. This way I got a few grand that do not accumulate interest while I am at university. You can follow that every so lovely journey back in the humble beginnings of this blog, June 2004 or so. It's all about the FAFSA!

I know nothing about UK loans... Not sure I'd qualify for those, so I didn't even bother.

I'm more than happy to answer any questions. It's a long and exhausting process, but very much worth it. Go ahead an email me (left column on main page) and I'll try to help with anything I can.

Good luck!

Heh-heh... nice post! :)

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