It is not raining today (I’m discussing the weather? Perhaps I’m turning English.) I am gradually – well, actually rather quickly – building up a little daily routine in my new life. I walk down to Earlsfield for breakfast, a pleasant 15 minute walk down Earlsfield Road. This is not dissimilar to my morning routine in Lindfield, where I walked 10 minutes or so to Tablespoon Cafe most days for breakfast; or to Serigo when I worked in the city. I buy ‘The Guardian’ on the way, substituting it in the role previously played by ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.
I have my eggs and cappuccino at Carluccio’s, which is on a busy street inappropriately named Garrett’s Lane. At intervals the light from the front window is blocked by a big double-decker red London bus stopping at the bus stop outside. This morning I learned why this area is sometimes referred to in the newspapers as ‘Nappy Valley’: there was an invasion of mothers and babies, and a great car park of strollers and prams formed in the corner. This too was a feature at Tablespoon (though not at Serigo).
Today I am not going to go into the city, because of the Tube strike. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, is saying encouraging things like ‘Londoners are a hardy bunch and I am sure a Tube strike will not deter us from getting around’. But I for one do not fancy a city with 3 million displaced commuters getting frustrated and footsore. In an interesting contrast to Australia, when unions call a strike here, not all the workers ‘go out’. In some cases, hardly any do. What don’t they get about the word ‘solidarity’?
I am taking baby steps to finding a banker, and researching things like a health service to register with, a gym to join, Spanish lessons and Tango lessons. For all of this I need an address. Come on, St Pan!
How about these:
High end gym in a gorgeous hotel, includes a swimming pool and spa. It could be ‘me’: http://www.campbellgrayhotels.com/one-aldwych-london.html?source=OneGS&lang=EN#/one-aldwych-london/Health-Club-and-Spa
You have to register at an NHS medical practice that services the area where you live (and not all are able to accept new patients). This one covers St Pan’s: http://www.handelstreet.com/ Or Birkbeck students can register at this one: http://www.gowerstreetpractice.org.uk/
For Spanish lessons at Instituto Cervantes, I’d have to take the Tube; or they offer on-line courses (a cop out, surely, if I ever want to actually converse in Spanish): http://londres.cervantes.es/en/default.shtm
But this looks very convenient, and fun: http://www.carablanca.co.uk/ The tango lessons are at Conway Hall, the place where the Humanists debated with the Catholics last week.
Armed with all this prior research, I will well equipped to sally forth into the great city of London, population 7.5 million (wider metropolitan area 12-14 million). According to Wikipedia:
The region covers an area of 1,579 square kilometres. The population density is 4,761 people per square kilometre, more than ten times that of any other British region. In terms of population, London is the 25th largest city and the 17th largest metropolitan region in the world. It is also ranked 4th in the world in number of US dollar billionaires residing in the city. London ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world, alongside Tokyo and Moscow.
And according to Jocelyn:
I can never understand the people who grandly declare that they hate London. I LOVE London, and the London I love is the London you are inhabiting. It's all there - the London of art, music, culture, philosophy, architecture, fun, commerce, good eating and drinking, history...I could go on for ever. It's what we found when we arrived there 44 years ago when Brian was doing his PhD at Imperial College in South Ken (except for the good food and drink part), when walking down the Strand that first day was like living a magical dream, a Monopoly board come alive. I have never lost my sense of wonder and joy and I'm reliving that experience again through your experience.
Thank you so much for your great message, Jocelyn. However, I am very confident that you can learn to log on and make comments directly on this blog. If you can speak Japanese, you can speak Google :-)
BTW, since I began writing this, it has rained. And now the sun is shining again.