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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Day 17: A very long walk to nowhere. [20041025|11:25]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
I head out for a walk at around Dodgy Punter & Young Mum o'clock, that is to say, early afternoon. I want to see if London is as small as my bus rides have led me to believe.

Earlier, at the hippie shack, I asked the girl at the cash register to direct me to the nearest post office. "It's quite a long walk," she says, "back down Parkway, to the right on the High Street, next to the McDonalds." I thank her, pay, toss my groceries in my backpack and leave.

The post office is about four blocks away.

I admit, when you have to walk four blocks in driving rain, it can feel like miles. However, I think the average Londoner's concept of distance is quite different from mine. Over the course of two hours, I walk from north Camden all the way down the Strand to Trafalgar Square. Camden High Street turns into Eversholt Street turns into Woburn Way turns into Southhampton Row turns into Kingsway and hits the Strand. I locate a butcher shop that looks very well kept, the big main post office, the Camden Library, where I can check out books now that I have a leisure card and a pub called Salieri. Since "Amadeus" is one of Marco's favorite movies, I will have to take him there. I pick up a few obnoxious postcards to send to LJ friends. I pass the large, ominous bank buildings of Lloyd's and Barclays, the Waldorf hotel, and a monstrosity called the Hotel Russell, which I'll have to go back and photograph. It has column-lined archways that can't decide whether they're trying to be gothic or Grecian and a number of ornate and indecipherable facades. If I were visiting, I'd probably stay there just to see the insides of the rooms.

I grab a bus from Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden so that I can meet Marco for coffee. While sitting on the Seven Dials, I smoke a clove and text him. He comes up as I'm stubbing out my cigarette, and we get into an argument about it. He expresses frustration and disappointment – I'd been quit for over three years before he moved. We have coffee, but I can't find much to talk about. I go home. On the bus ride, I am holding back tears. All desire to do much of anything has fled, so I sit down to write.

[User Picture]From: sekl
2004-11-01 14:29 (UTC)
Have you ever read Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island. As an American in England, he finds the English concept of distance confusing. "It's an all day's drive" turns into 3 hours.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2004-11-01 15:16 (UTC)
No, I haven't, but my curiosity burns. I've been informed that I've blown my book allowance for the month (based on available space, not money), so I'll have to check it out from the library. :-P
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[User Picture]From: sekl
2004-11-01 16:07 (UTC)
LOL. I have to admit that Jim and I have run into this argument more than once. Until Jake came along we could get away with stacking books to create furniture. "It's not a set of Stephenson novels, it's an end table." But with the destructor, we've had to start packing up boxes and storing them in the garage. When that space runs out, we're pretty much screwed.
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