An engaging story

Trip Start May 27, 2010
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Trip End Aug 31, 2011


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, November 22, 2010

Wills and Kate

Unless living under a rock this week, most people would now know that Wills and Kate announced their royal engagement.  Speculation has been rife for some time now surrounding the engagement and when they would in fact become engaged.  Well, it's finally happened, and all of Britain are rejoicing, celebrating the news and turning their thoughts to when and where the wedding might be.  There have already been public wagers on where the grand occasion will take place, who will design the dress, where the couple will live once they're married, etc etc.  It really is quite insane.  On the day of the announcement, and for a couple of days after, the papers were flooded with stories about the impending nuptials, how Wills proposed, the ring, the girl, the girl's parents (oh dear, the Mum was photographed chewing nicotine gum - and boy did she get a rap over the knuckles for that!), and drawing comparisons between this wedding and that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana back in 1981.  We've been asked to get used to calling Kate by her birth name, "Catherine" - I don't suppose Princess Kate quite has the same ring to it does it. 

All of this hoo-ha got me thinking about Princess Mary and what a different person she is to the sheila that walked into a pub in Sydney and bumped into old mate Frederick.  I bet she was wearing jeans and Havaiana's that day, but wouldn't dream of wearing them these days, instead opting for a more polished look, with designer outfits and tailored suits.  A lot of people like Mary (or, as I like to call her, Maz).  I'm not that keen on her.  While I understand it's every little girls' dream to grow up and marry a handsome prince, I'm not quite sure whether a life of pomp and excess would be all that enjoyable.  Sure, it'd be great not to have to work and it sounds oh-so glamorous living in a castle, wearing jewels and having most things handed to you on a platter.  But wouldn't that get boring after a while?  Wouldn't you want to escape to your roots and get your hands dirty in the garden (something that is foreign to me), go down to the local pub, swear and cuss and do all the things you used to do?  I'm not sure it's all that it's cracked up to be, floating around in age-old couture in a centuries old palace.  I think there are probably times Princesses sit up in their ivory towers, looking out to the world around them and wishing they could run off into the bushes and head down to the local pond for a skinny dip (something also foreign to me).  Just to do something wild and risqué and escape the humdrum of being all proper and practiced and, frankly, nice. 

I could go on forever.  But the main point I think is that we all choose our destiny, and if you want to be a princess and have the world handed to you, good luck to you.  But I think you can feel like a princess without actually marrying into a monarchy.  And what's more, who actually wants to do that stupid closed-hand wave they all learn to perfect.  Urgh.  No thanks. 

Leticia's story*

Apparently I owe a bit of an explanation regarding Leticia.  I admit I have been a bit cryptic about where she came from and how she came to be in my possession, and I think it only fair that I tell the story now that she has become such a big part of my life. 

One lovely night in Munich after a day spent in the beerhalls, I was overcome by a clucky, nurturing feeling.  A feeling so strong that I didn't dare fight it.  And so it was, while walking around the fairgrounds of Oktoberfest, I came upon a stall selling all things kitsch, including plush stuffed ducks resembling Huey, Dewey and Louie (Donald Duck's nephews), and other supposedly well-known cartoon and television characters. 

Among the plush assortment of toys was a little black baby with a dirty face, wearing nothing but a pretty pink dress, her hair a mess.  Upon seeing her, my need to do something for the greater good intensified, and I decided in a split-second that I was destined to take her home with me and give her the life she deserved.  Despite being tied to the toy stall by a small green ribbon (a tell-tale sign of child slave labour), I yanked her free and made off with her in my handbag (yeah, she's that small).  Nat and Phil looked at each other and when they spotted me running towards the exit of the fairground, they knew that I'd finally made the decision to set the little black baby free and take her to a better place

Once my pace slowed and I relaxed, knowing that I'd done the right thing and looking towards a brighter future for the young girl, I stopped to wait for Nat and Phil so that together we could make our way back to our campsite at Thalkirchen, and begin the process of settling her in to her new (temporary) surroundings.  It wasn't long before she was asleep and the three of us got to discussing what we would name the young child.  We decided upon Leticia, because it was a traditional black name, a name synonymous with those given to children of African descent who live in the projects of East London.  We thought it would help her assimilate and make friends when it was time for her to join a school, and a name short enough to fit on a nametag at Tesco when she became a teenage mum and part-time checkout chick. 

Leticia slept for quite a while: I'm guessing because she'd had such a big day, traumatic in some senses.  So we thought it best to leave her in the tent to rest while we headed up to the bar to fetch ourselves one last litre of beer (each).  When we left the tent, I yelled to Leticia "don't drink all the schnapps!!!".  I assumed she was an alcoholic and had had a hard life thus far.  She certainly looked like she had.  The responsible thing to do in this case might've been to remove my litre bottle of schnapps from the tent so as to remove any temptation, but I wanted to teach her a lesson and let her know that I trusted her, and that this was lesson one of many yet to come.  As it happened, we returned to the tent a little later to find the precious little thing still there.  Leticia was still there too. 

After a broken sleep (I was slightly concerned that Leticia might make off with my bag and passport), I woke in the morning and explained to Leticia that we were going to take her back to London where she would have better opportunities and a better life.  When I asked her what sorts of foods she liked, Phil piped up and said "she only eats chicken".  It was evident that he'd been speaking to Leticia privately to find out such information.  Either that or he had a sound knowledge of the customs and traditions of her home country, which detail I was yet to find out for myself.  

I turned my mind to the technicalities of taking an adopted youngster abroad, given that she didn't have a passport.  "No worries", I thought, I'll stow her in my cabin luggage and no one will ever know the difference.  I discovered that Leticia had in fact taken a few swigs from the schnapps bottle during the night, and so knowing that she was still a bit hungover, I was confident that she would sleep for the entire flight.  When we arrived at Heathrow we made a safe exit past customs with no issues, and when we got on the train to head home I took her out of my bag and let her take her first look at the outskirts of London.  She must have been stunned (or the wind changed), because the amazed, excited and slightly freaky expression on her face remains to this day. 

Since bringing Leticia across the border she has made a trip up to Birmingham in Phil's bag (we continue to use this mode of transport because it was so effective the first time, not only for border crossing but for fare evasion too), but Phil insists that he doesn't like her staying at his house because he's afraid she'll nick his TV - a reasonable concern.  She has settled in quite well to her new lifestyle and has expressed a desire to work at Primark when she's older.  I'm really proud that she's so interested in the fashion industry.  As part of a gradual transformation process, I plan to take Leticia to a hairdressers sometime soon to fix that mangy hair of hers: I think a result of the poor conditions she was kept in prior to my rescuing her from a life of certain doom.  The plan going forward is to share custody of Leticia, or as Phil calls her, "his rude girl". 

So that's Leticia's story.  A story sure to grace the cover of That's Life magazine in the near future. 

A little bit of weekend news


After another week of work, fox dodging, train disruptions and mental battles about whether or not to go to the gym, I met Phil and Gemma at the local pub, the Station House.  We had a few pints of Leffe and then went to meet some of the housemates at the Rocket just up the road.  It was clear the Leffe had done it's job when I turned to Gemma and said "I think we should go to the Rocket now", and Gemma laughed and said "we are in the Rocket now, Heidi".  It was even clearer that the Leffe and Jager shots had done their job when I left the pub with Phil without saying goodbye to anyone, getting lost on the way home (refer to the map to understand just how ridiculous that is), and falling over in an attempt to run.  I think. 

On Saturday, nursing headaches, we went and saw Bobby at the chicken shop, which chicken shop now does Indian curries as well.  We booked flights for Philo to come to Australia with me in May for Brooke and Clint's wedding.  I think he's crazy, he thinks he's crazy, but it's exciting and I'm looking forward to showing him all that Shepp (and Melbourne) has to offer, from the Bullion Bar to the discount shopping strip in High Street.  It actually seriously has Go-Lo, the $2 Shop, Clint's Crazy Bargains, and a couple of other local bargain basement stores all conveniently located within 100 metres of each other.  So if you can't get your Bedazzler at Go-Lo, head next door and you're bound to have better luck. 

Saturday night saw us head in to Covent Garden to check out the Christmas tree at the market with 50,000 lights on it.  Even though it's not Christmas yet, and not even December yet, I thought it apt to get into the spirit considering I'm going to Prague next weekend to see the Christmas markets.  So after a visit to the Christmas tree we embarked on a pub crawl around the area and found ourselves in a cosy little pub, at a table next to a group of Spanish lesbian musicians.  They all appeared to be one big happy couple consisting of about eight members.  I'm not quite sure how that works, but it sure seemed a strange concept to me at the time.  The she-man with a short fringe, long dreadlocks and boxer shorts showing above her jeans (I'm sure it was a girl) was overtly affectionate with the chicks sitting on either side of her.  What an interesting session of people-watching that was.  I actually love people-watching, making stories in my head and explanations for why people are doing what they're doing, wearing what they're wearing.  Where are they going?  Who are they going with? 

After the lesbian musos had cleared out and we found ourselves lacking in the entertainment department, we went for a beer at another pub, followed by a bar at Piccadilly Circus where we felt well out of place because of the attire of the other patrons.  We were seemingly over-dressed: we weren't baring enough skin. 

On Monday morning I awoke to the news that my insurance claim for my damaged laptop screen had been honoured and that I should soon see the money I parted with a few weeks ago returned to my bank account sometime this week.  On Monday morning I awoke to the realisation that I would shortly have to make another claim for my touch-screen camera which now has a smashed screen.  It remains a mystery to as to how this happened. 

Prague this weekend!  Can't wait.  I'm going to need to go out and buy that big puffer jacket I've been putting off buying, because if Prague is anything like London, it's going to be cold.  The Metro newspaper reported that snow is predicted for London on Thursday.  Brrrrrrrrrrr. 

An observation

My doodling skills have improved significantly since I've been in the UK.  When I'm on the phone at work, when I'm talking to my friends at work, when I'm deep in thought, I doodle.  I was never a really arty sort of person and had often envied the doodles of others when I was in boring meetings or just chatting idly, killing time, wasting ink on notepads and prettying otherwise dull white paper.  I do swirly ones, straight ones, bold ones, fine ones.  Any doodle, you name it.  Sometimes when I look down at my notepad (which doubles as a mouse pad) I realise there are more doodles on there than actual notes.  Slightly concerning, and perhaps a dead giveaway that I'm not quite as busy as I should be.  But at least this free time has allowed me to hone an otherwise undiscovered talent.**

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*Basically, I stole a toy from Oktoberfest and Nat, Phil and I continue to talk shit about it.  I am not a people-smuggler.  Nor do I condone criminal behaviour.

**Minds out of the gutter please. 
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