A little bit of Britain

Britain, Britain, Britain. Or at least the little bit of it called London. To me it’s not the mother country, not a spiritual home. Just a place that makes some damn fine comedy and the occasional great science fiction drama. Speaking of which, there is a TARDIS in front of Earl Court Station.

Walking through London is more an exercise in time travel than in an Australian city. There is much history and many stories everywhere you go. It is also a very cosmopolitan city. It often feels like the recent immigrants outnumber the locals, who themselves may have come from many ethnic backgrounds.


London is without doubt one of the world’s great cities. Yet, it feels rather dysfunctional, in the same way that Sydney does. Cancelled rail services, entertainment streets that are eyesores, young males who roam the streets oozing violence.

Your typical British hoon

I do not feel comfortable here, despite the shared language and heritage. There are so many Australians here that we are just part of the landscape. As such, I too am expected to be part of the city instead of a detached observer. There is no language barrier to hide behind.

One of the most important behaviours to learn when visiting a new country is to work out which side of the footpath and escalator to walk on. In Britain escalators are the opposite of Australia: stand on the right, walk on the left. So far as the street goes, I think that you are supposed to walk on the right, the opposite of Australia, despite us both driving on the same side of the road.

It’s very confusing.

I’m not a beer drinker, but my friends tell me that Fosters Lager is crap. It’s advertised heavily here with the line “Put a bit of Australia into you.” Right… are they saying that drinking Fosters is like having good sex?

I had a simpl day today, which my feet greatly appreciated. My Plone course began today, but Jorgen, the tutor, had to fly in from Sweden this morning, so we didn’t start until 11am. It turns out that I am the only student, the others pulling out for reasons related to the economic crisis.

That suits me fine. Already I have used the knowledge gained today to resolve a few issues with our website.

The teaching room is in a shared office facility on Oxford Street. I arrived early under sunny skies and walked around this dingy street of souvenir shops for tasteless tourists. There are even a couple of Japanese chain stores: Muji and Uni Qlo.

After the course finished for the day I decided to take a train from a different station to return to the hotel. I had arrived at Leicester Square, so I picked Piccadilly Circus to join the ride back to Earls Court.

As I walked down Dean Street I came across Nusa Dua, an Indonesian Restaurant that was cheap but actually quite nice inside. The cheerful Indonesian waitress chattered away about her sister, while I had a tasty meal of snapper with a curry sauce. Made a nice change from sandwiches.

I think somebody had fallen on the tracks, because all trains were cancelled along a stretch of the Piccadilly line. Fortunately, many stations are served by multiple lines, so I instead caught a train to Embankment and changed for the District line to Earls Court instead.

It was pleasant to arrive back early without feeling absolutely exhausted. I felt like watching some television, but the choices are dreadful! I think we tend to get the best of British television in Australia because much of what is available here is crap.

Being summer in the higher latitudes the sky is light until quite late. At 8:30pm it is only now giving the hint of an approaching dusk. Must take advantage of that before I leave, but right now I will enjoy my rest.

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