London's a funny old town. It's go so much going for it and so much rich history but you still get this impression that Londoners are teetering on the brink of an inferiority complex. There seems to be the barest whisper of a hint of an echo of a sense of imperialist shame over losing control of the world, but it's masked with bluff and blunder and the stiff upper lip. Like the Americans, there's a touch of arrogance when they talk of England being the greatest country on earth, but unlike the Americans (who genuinely believe their own bullshit) the Brits are trying very hard to believe, but they don't seem too sure; it's like they're trying to convince themselves more so than everybody else. There's a lot of hype and hubris and misplaced priorities, and overlaying it all this annoying veneer of politeness and dignity and 'being proper'. Take the weather for example: when I first arrived everyone tried to frighten me with all this doom and gloom about the English winter and how I'd better get a woolly coat because I was in for a shock. Well, we've passed through the depths of winter and here I am still waiting for the shock. 3 degrees? You call that cold? I'm from Canberra, buddy, don't talk to me about cold...my arse gets colder than that before a prostate exam!
One thing I've noticed about London is you don't get a lot of street performers. Occasionally you see the odd circus troupe or barbershop quartet or bazookie player but they're usually part of some bourgeois marketing promotion rather than simply plying their trade for a few bob to get a bit of tuck. The Underground (by that I mean the subway systen, not the plucky band of revolutionary freedom fighters plotting to overthrow the Guv) have a programme where they let musicians set up in the tunnels between platforms but they choose the blandest, most commercial performers they can find and the acoustics in there are just attrocious so it just turns into a clamourous cringe fest. Any money they make is less a reflection of their talent and more a plea to shut the feck up. It seems the humble busker went the way of the trade unionist back in the days of Thatch, more's the pity. Art shouldn't be planned or sponsored otherwise it becomes yet another commodity; it should be impromptu and egalitarian.
Something I did see on the street which amused me greatly was a protest outside one of the major supermarkets. Now which of the many deserving causes afflicting the world today did the good people of London brave the bitter biting cold to raise awareness among the hoi paloi, you ask? War? Famine? Discrimination? Drugs? Oil? Nope. This particular protest was about foie grois. That's right, goose liver pate. They had some dude dressed up like a goose (literally), parading up an down and proclaiming the "horrors" of the "barbaric" practice of forcing geese to drink brandy or whatever it is they do. You call that barbaric? I wish the biggest problem I had was that someone was making me drink brandy when I didn't really want to:
"Another snifter, Mr Goose?"Yeah, there's an issue sorely in need of redress. Bloody hippies. It was enough to make me gag on my foie grois smoothie.
"No, no, I really couldn't...hawnk!"
"Oh go on, you've earned it."
"Really, I've had far too much already...hawnk!"
"Come now, there's no such thing as too much brandy."
"Oh alright, if you insist. But I'm going to regret this in the morning...hawnk!"
I don't mean to sound superficial, but I'm going to anyway. Here at The Company they don't employ very many fat ugly people, but the ones they do are REALLY fat and REALLY ugly. I'm talking Guinness Book of Records fat and Ripley's Believe it or Not ugly. Now before you go getting all filled up with self-righteous indignation, I'm not claiming to be any sort of hot piece of crumpet myself. I fully cognisant of my status as a resident of that vast beige-coloured middle ground between neither particularly attractive nor particularly unattractive. But I know I'm not ugly because I called my mum and I asked her, "Mum? Am I good looking?" and after a few minutes silence she replied, "Well...you're not ugly." Then we made out. Oh wait, that was Paul's mum!
On the weekend the weather was sunny so I took a stroll along the river over to the Greenwich markets, which are pretty cool. Lots of hand-made jewellery and t-shirts and art and crap you want but don't need and the whole place reeks of pungent rainforest food and curries. Then I walked up Shooters Hill which stretches for miles and overlooks the village of Blackheath. As you would expect, as soon as the sun comes out any open space in London immediately fills with people. But it wasn't so bad as there was lots of space and people were flying kites, so even a flinty-hearted jerkoff like me could get lost in the whimsy. There were also some dudes with those bitchin' big sail kites attached to go-karts hooning around the place knocking over old ladies and making the kiddies drop their ice creams in fright. Well, in my mind they were...
The London Dungeon, potentially London's lamest tourist attraction, is advertising a couple of new attractions in February. One is the London Bridge Experience which goes through the spooky history of the bridge, woooooh!, and the other is the London Tombs which is billed as "probably europe's scariest attraction". In a land where even the most mediocre experience is hailed as a masterpiece before it's even released, you've got to be a little dubious when the best they can come up with is "probably". Needless to say, I'll be going along to both in order to scoff and complain and basically blend in with all the English people.
How's that about Heath Ledger? I hate to sound callous, but do you reckon it was maybe a publicity stunt for the new Batman movie? Like he was trying to prove to Jack Nicholson that his joker was way more insane? Probly not...
I managed to take some more photographs but somehow got my data transfer cables mixed up and while attempting to ram a large plug into a small socket (not the first time that's happened, eh, ooh err!) I managed to completely bork the data port. So until I can get it fixed you'll all just have to make do with mental pictures of me capering about the english countryside quaffing snifters of cognac with Mr Goose.
Be good y'all...