Thursday, November 30, 2006 


This has got to be the worst pick-up line I've ever heard (in England or any place else):

Monica: *comes up to the bar to place her order*: Hi, two Kronenbourgs please.
Swarthy guy next to Monica: Are you French?

I can't decide who dislikes the French more, the English or the Americans. I also can't decide whom the French detest more: the English or the Americans. Either way, this line can't ever be one that ended in a successful fashion. My response was kind of to snort, "no" and move over two steps. Ugh.

Saturday, November 25, 2006 


A dramatic retelling of events last weekend past:

Act I:
Our heroes, Monica and Huw, are exhausted from walking from Archway to Highgate to Hamspstead and are in desperate need of a sit down and gin. They walk into a local pub.

Monica: Wow, this pub is super nice!
Huw: Uh, yea, I guess so.
M: No, there's something about it, what it is? It's different here.
H: Sure... drinks?

Act II:
One hour and several drinks later. Huw returns from the bathroom.

Monica: Yes, it's something about the furniture I think. The walls are white, it's so clean in here, the furniture is so classy. I've never seen a pub like this.
Huw: You know what else is strange, in the loo, there is the nicest arrangement of flowers. Like fresh cut flowers.
M: Huh.

Act III:
Another hour later and still even more drinks on.

Huw: There are a lot of guys in here now.
Monica: Yes, and one of them over there is reading a magazine with some page inside that had the title, "Gay gay gay!"
H: Interesting.
M: Dude, is this a gay pub?
H: Hmmmm...
M: I've never heard in my life of a gay pub. Gay bars, yes.
H: I don't know, I don't think I've ever heard of one either.
M: Oh, man, that other guy is reading a magazine entitled, "Boyz"!
H: This explains some uncomfortably long eye contact I had with a guy earlier.
M: *starts laughing*
H: I can't believe I didn't notice. Look, this flyer on our table is advertising cabaret night!
M: Oh shit!
H: This also explains that chalkboard behind you as well.

M: Ohmigod that is the gayest Santa I've ever seen!!!
H: Look, now that group of old men have been passed that copy of "Boyz" and are reading it!
M: No bowl full of jelly on that one!
H: We are out of here.
M: This is hilarious!!
H: I bet there is a giant rainbow flag outside...

Monica and Huw stumble outside and look up at, indeed, a rainbow.

M: *laughing*
H: That's it, I need more drinks. To Camden!!

The End.

The point is that I didn't know Hampstead was some sort of gay mecca, the Dupont Circle of London if you will; Huw clearly did, so I blame him.

If you'd like to see more of our shenanigans, you are more than welcome to our
London Blogger Meet Up
this Saturday, at an aptly named pub called The Cock (yes, Huw chose that one too), 8 PM, Great Portland St, and see you there!

Monday, November 20, 2006 


Thank God some one's written it all down for me, saving me to make such a list myself:

I spotted this, and milled the purchase over for a few minutes. And in those few minutes I became inconsolably depressed.... I will, at some point, have to leave London. And in fact that will probably be about a year from now.

So that's it. I have one remaining year in London. It makes me sad just to write that. I'd like to stay, but various reasons such as career opportunity, visa issues, salary potential, debt crisis, and of course missing some people terribly that I just can't seem to shake all ads up to the fact that I have to leave.

This realization throws in to sharp relief all that I HAVEN'T done here. Word of advice: don't try to do a foreign adventure AND a PhD. I've spent the majority of my time here in a lab or a book. So it's time to sort myself out and see as much as I possibly can. A year is a pretty long time after all.

Unfortunately I've only accomplished nine of these 101 items. Granted it's a pretty pretentious list; some things on there clearly no one has done in their right mind. I won't be going night fishing in Clapham Common (#6), gay bowling at the Trocadero (#36), eating offal (#93) or steak (#101), but I will see what I can pull off.

Sunday, November 12, 2006 


One of the best things of living abroad, or anywhere far from home actually, is unexpected care packages! I just got this bounty from my mum, with biscuits and Kraft mac and cheese for all:

(Not really "for all"... my flatmate sniffed, "wow, that's an interesting shade of orange, innit?")

Things are going a bit rough these days for the future Dr. Monica. My funding has dried up, my project is hitting snags, my writing feels wretched, my headaches are more frequent, and darkness closes in, both literally and figuratively. A whole weekend of American snacks definitely made me feel much better. Thanks mum!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 


#52: They love Friends.

To some very weird extremes.

Item: My first encounter was two years ago, hanging out with my roommates for one of the first times. We were going through each others DVD collection, when a squeal erupted, "Oh my God, you have Season 10!!" I saw the girl waving around the box and was perplexed, "Huh. Didn't that show start sucking about 7 seasons before this?" I was amazing at how everyone groped for the box.

Item: My new roommate has three Friends posters, one Friends calendar, one massive boxset containing each and every single Friends episodes, and (as I discovered yesterday for the first time) a Friends coffee mug. She's a lovely, lovely girl but I'm starting to wonder about her sanity.

Item: Look, everyone has a few select great stories. Stories that they save and tell to crowds at parties that everyone loves; these are your defining life stories. I have mine. My best one, my best story to date, is getting robbed at gunpoint in Adams Morgan a few years ago. It is a really great story, and I always get total devotion whilst telling it (especially to the English, who are far less likely to have their own gun stories). In fact the only time I've ever been interrupted was here, by a Brit, who actually said, "Oh yea! It's like that time on Friends where Monica's date thought 'gunpoint' is an actual place!! You know, two people robbed at GunPoint?!" "Ok," I thought, "I quit. If you people want to talk about TV episodes rather than hear actual life stories, I just give up!!"

I'm concerned that they see it as some sort of microcosm for New York, or even America itself. I wonder what happens to all these poor saps when they finally do make it to NYC; I guess these are the one wandering around, looking for the real Central Perk. But I guess it goes the other way as well..... Hopefully Americans don't see Wernham Hogg as the quintessential British workplace.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 


A few weeks ago, a reader asked me why I never get my fat lazy ass go to East London (I'm paraphrasing of course!) and I realized that is a good question, so last Sunday I tubed it over to Old Street to check out the Columbia Road Flower Market. I thought this would be a momentous and overwhelming display of flowers, but turned out to only be about one block. Still nice though:

So after about ten minutes I realized I was stuck with a whole morning on my hands and nothing to do, in a whole different part of town (having never seen Old Street in the light of day) and so I started walking. At first I was just checking out that area, it's definitely more scruffy and funky, which I really like. Neat stuff on walls and all that...

... And way more ethnic, which in my book is a good thing....

...But still wasn't enough and I kept walking...

... And I thought, "well I've never seen that up close," so off I went....

"The gherkin really is one of the coolest modern buildings ever. I should do more London architecture posts, because I think I-- what the hell?"

"Hundreds of people standing around in the pouring rain? Huge TV screens? Red carpet?" I couldn't figure it out at the time, but turns out it was the opening of a new scientology centre in London.

One of them tried to hand me some literature as I pushed through the crowd. "Oh hells no, I'm out of here!!" And I scampered the rest of the way home. Not what was I was planning for the day, but I think it ended up being about four miles. Don't know how much of it was East London, but a good start, no?

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