Thursday, July 3, 2008


"I leave you alone for five minutes. Five minutes. And you get attacked by a duck?" 

Drew is halfway up a tree. We're by The Long Water, and Drew is halfway up a tree, looking terrified of a duck that is about a fifth of his size. I'm hot and sweaty and hungry and I haven't seen Drew for nearly six months but apparently he hasn't matured at all. "Learn to pick on someone your own size." I tell him as the duck wanders off, muttering to itself indignantly. I really don't want to know. I'm already annoyed with him ("Can you meet me at Oxford Circus instead of Embankment?") and I'm hungry, which is a recipe for disaster. And we've walked from Oxford Street M&S to The Long Water, which is a Long Way. And we've still got a little way to go.  
Drew's been in South Africa for six months, and nipped up to London for the past three weeks. We didn't think we'd get to see each other, but when I ran back to the UK (a little wounded, but nothing serious) the first thing I did was email him. The first thing he did upon getting my email was ring me and tell me that "The problem with Europe is it's full of Europeans." 

We make our way towards The Albert Memorial. Talking about everything and nothing the way that people who haven't seen in each other in a long time do. Nothing too important, suffice to say that while we both love the new Sigur Ros album, we still find "( )" and "Takk" to be better albums. We've both read "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell". We both need to buy new jeans. By the time we're at Albert, you'd think six months hadn't passed. 

Despite having seen it every day for the past three days, I don't think I'll ever stop being impressed by the Albert Memorial. It's this massive testament to love and eternity and all that. We sit on the steps and eat dinner from M&S and keep talking. People are pouring into the Albert Hall opposite. Tourists are taking photos. There are no ducks to terrorize Drew. It's pretty perfect. 

"So why Oxford Circus instead of Embankment?"
"Too nice a day to be in a cafe." 
"Still sanctimonious."

People have stopped rushing into Albert Hall when it happens. A man dressed in black walks past us. Trademark sunglasses and everything and I know instantly who it is. Lou Reed. Our grip on each other tightens to stop ourselves from launching our bodies at him with declarations of love similar to Victoria's for Albert. We smile at him (attempting casual, arriving at manic) and Lou Reed walks past us. Once he's out of earshot, I ask Drew if he'd known that was going to happen. "No. I thought we'd just hang around and see if we could hear Berlin being performed." Freeloading. Typical. Makes me think of sneaking into that Blues and Roots gig at the Gaelic. Makes me think of turning up to Film Club meets at uni even though we weren't members but wanted to see Modern Times and Hard Day's Night even though we owned them. Makes me think of Lou fucking Reed. 

We walk back through the park singing "Perfect Day" and "Waiting For The Man". I get tackled by a stupid dog. Drew tries his best not to anger any more ducks. Sometimes home isn't a place. Sometimes home is people. 


I've spent the past three nights at Hazel's mum's place (Hazel had three 16yearold girls staying with her.) Sarah is 94 and lives on her own. We watched the Eurocup Final together (Spain won and ok, I'm fickle. Germany isn't as goodlooking a team as Spain) and she put me on the train to Camden Market (better than Portobello. Less tourists.) and the bus from her place goes straight to Albert Hall, where it's only a short walk to one of my new favourite places in the whole wide world, the Natural History Musuem. I've been there twice now. It's awesome because it's free and there are DINOSAURS. T-REX's. STEGOSAURS. IGUANADONS. DIPLODOCI and so on. And one very excited Maddie. Because dinosaurs have always fascinated me for unknown reasons. It's probably something to do with the size. As well as Dinosaurs there's a pretty awesome exhibit about the Earth (rocks are interesting) as well as lots of stuffed things. Birds and Mammoths. And maybe, just maybe, I got a bit excited about the fact that I was standing where they filmed Spooks.

I've also been to the Science Museum which was full of schoolkids and Americans. And one Maddie giggling over the anti masturbation device. And feeling smug when everyone else was going "who was Frances Galton?" at the eugenics display because sometimes books your dad makes you read make you a bit more knowledgeable about the world around you. 

And I've been hanging out with Drew a bit - on Monday we had our Lou Reed brush and the Duck Incident (I still don't want to know.) and on Tuesday we went to Leicester Square to see "In Bruges" which was the best Colin Farrell movie I have ever seen. It's a very dark comedy (sort of like Snatch or Lock Stock) about two hitmen who end up in Bruges, Brussels. Having just come back from that part of the world I appreciated it more than the people sitting next to us, who we had to ask to be quiet twice. But it was very funny and wicked and you should go and see it as soon as possible. 

Last night Hazel took Rhiannon (one of the girls staying with her who's stayed on a little longer) and myself to sushi in Hampstead. The tables were sunk into the floor and jellybean shaped. Sushi is awesome and fresh and fantastic. Hazel reminded me that I forgot to mention that the reason my hair is all neat and tidy (when I bother to do it properly) is because her birthday present to me was a haircut. She'll think I'm groveling, but I really do want to mention how wonderful it is to have her - she's an encyclopedia of UK and Europe knowledge. It's made things a lot easier. 

And that brings us to this morning. It's grey and chilly. I feel like curling back up in bed. I have to find somewhere to stay in Hever. Or Canterbury. And I'm hungry. So bed will have to wait. At some point I'll upload photos from Luxembourg.  

1 comment:

Drew said...

the duck started it.
good to see you alive and kicking. keep it up, postcard from iceland please.
it's strange leaving messages for you here. far too public.

adios, shortarse.