>yeah i promised you details about westminster abbey. but do you really want to hear about what so many have blogged about before?
suffice it to say, i was moved to be in the presence of Elizabeth I’s tomb, her effigy apparently so accurate, like i was looking into her eyes, daring to read her thoughts frozen at the time of death.
edward ‘the longshanks’ was there too. how appropos that yesterday i visited the spot where william wallace was hanged, drawn, and quartered.
walked up to isaac newton’s altar, no fleshy globes with inner seeds to be found.
charles darwin lies there as well . . . take that, southern baptists.
yesterday, i threw a fit at speaker’s corner. it was, shall we say, both galvanizing and utterly dissapointing. it was galvanizing to see people wishing to engage in dialogues with their communities about problems plaguing their city. it was great to see lively debates and provocation on the streets of london. with people i’ve never met nor will ever see again, we applauded and encouraged each other to speak, to have agency, and to foster solidarity.
the disappointing aspect was essentially those who chose to speak on their soapboxes. they ALL were religious fanatics, and i say that sans hyperbole.
one muslim american was trying to promote human rights and democracy while simultaneously preaching the oppression of women, advocating the death pealty, and discouraging religious freedom and conversion.
this crazy british woman with white hair and cheap shoes was trying to assert the preeminence of ‘white britons’ and that foreigners were heathens, that ‘blacks’ were inferior and so on. she also said that “americans, canadians, australians, new zealanders, you’re all mongrels!” i lost it then, jumped up, came right up to her shakey, monkey face, and chewed her out. that there’s no such thing as race since it’s a colonizers term to attack the unknown, that britain is responsible for most of the invasions, colonization, and slaughters of foreign nations throughout history, and that embracing diversity is the mark of a just, equitable, and progressive society.
i also called her a waste of skin.
she kept calling me a mongrel, proclaiming, ‘this is what i have to say!’
i then realized that the most effective form of protest is to walk away and not give her hatred speech justice by listening to it. so i walked away and shouted “this is what i have to say — FUCK OFF BITCH.” i laughed as the crowd applauded and cheered me on, and as luck would have it, they followed me out.
it’s astounding people like that still exist in the world.
perhaps i shouldn’t have lost my cool like that, but fuck me, it felt so electric.
then a woman approached me and said, “i think i’d like to be your friend”
her name was aisha, also from ontario. we laughed, engaged in a lively debate, and decided to spend the day together. we made quick trip up to camden market (one-of-a-kind designs and vintage threads) before hauling-ass to meet up with our walking tour guide of shakespeare’s and dickens london.
aisha had coins for earrings, caramel skin, fiercely intelligent and such a sweety pie. i liked her instantly, and i love how easy it is to meet people under the strangest of circustances.
under the strangest of clouds.
the walking tour showed us the streets shakespeare lived on, the place where his cellar still exists (excavate those walls for manuscripts, will ya?), to where the aforementioned wallace, catholic martyrs, and politcal prisoners were executed for the king. where the bones of those who died during the black death still lay.
now under a parking lot.
bones under your white cutlass supreme.
i looked upon those spots and areas, and thought how the sky that hovers avove these grounds has seen so much blood spilt, so many cries and screams, and yet now smiled sweetly upon the world with an innocent myopia to history.
after giving aisha parting hugs, i was gonna do another walking tour, when i realized the final world cup game was about to commence.
i sprinted back to the hostel, showered like a fiend, took the stairs two at a time, and joined mike from manchester and a dozen other strange backpackers to engulf ourselves in hope and glory.
and then jan (johan?) showed up, looking debonnaire, dashing, and decadent.
he asked me if i’d like to go get a drink with him.
if it took me longer than 0.66 seconds to respond, i’d be shocked.
tore back up the stairs, threw on something colourful, smeared charcoal around my arab-eyes, and met him down on the street.
in his posh mercedes.
we zoom-zoomed through town to a pub to watch the rest of the game amongst a decidedly italian crowd. we laughed, we talked, we incessantly flirted.
jan found out that i’ve got “brains as well as beauty” (his words), remarking on my masters degree and my strong political/social/feminist ideas.
i found out jan used to be a junior football (soccer) player, that he owns another hostel which we popped into for a few minutes to take a peek, that he left finland when he was 15 to seek his fortune in london, that he has a younger sister who’s becoming a bitter teenager, that he loves his parents, and that he has a king-sized bed in his master bedroom.
but get this — we’re both 25, but i’m one month older than him.
what a cougar.
(first gizmo, now jan)
we sat close, touching, stroking and feeling each other until italy won the world cup. the bar erupted and the kids took to the streets cheering with flags and chants, just like my little italy neighbourhood back home.
he parked his mercedes, and we walked back to the hostel, a lovely walk, the london the tourists never get to see.
we strolled through the streets of little portugal, alongside river banks, through the bustling notting hill.
i was a little tipsy from my amaretto sour, but jan kept close. we giggled like conspirators.
maybe we are.
i remember at one point looking over at him, at how lovely he is, and instantly deciding what would come next. his rogue-ish good looks, his boyish-charm, and the fact that he couldn’t keep his hands off me . . .
he has one of those smiles that collapses under the joy of it all.
he kissed me with the eagerness of an adolescent but with a surge i felt against my hip.
his lips were wet, and so i must be.
i’m returning to london on august 25th to fly home on the 26th. jan and i have made plans for that one day.
three guesses what those plans are . . .
this morning i threw my worldly possesions on my back, said goodbye to londinium, rode the chunnell, and arrived in brussels.
i hate it here.
everyone here is so fucking rude, i’ve never encountered such smarminess and revile before.
you know i don’t let no one talk shit to me, so you can guess how i handled each motherfucker unfortunate enough to piss me off.
i even cancelled my reservation at the hostel i booked because the owner was the equivalent of a rectum rash.
you guessed it.
he called me a cunt, i asked him if he’s ever gotten laid, his hands shook, i asked him if he was going to cry, he approached me as if to intimidate me, i got my money back.
don’t fuck with an estima.
i’m now staying at the posh hotel belmontthat i can’t afford but i have my own bathroom.
i ain’t complaining.
tomorrow i’m booking (drum roll please) a velveeta bus tour, and then, who knows what else?
the world is my toystore.
p.s. my digicam isn’t compatible with the computers here, so photos, and there are many, will have to wait till i return to toronto. rest assured, they’re stunning.