Thursday, March 10, 2016

LONDON CALLING

This being my first year back in Vancouver, I should stay put during my two weeks’ vacation this month. Just enjoy sleeping in and not having to take the ferry to work. Besides, I still have no furniture. My living room has a few moving boxes gathering dust and a stool. It’s a sad abode. I should save all my money and finally buy a sofa. Maybe a coffee table and an area rug, too.

Instead, I’m heading to London.

Perhaps that’s one of the perks of living on my own. I don’t have to be sensible. I don’t have to hear someone else whining about what I haven’t done to the place. It’s depressing, sure. Maybe that’s why I’m not sticking around.

I told my mother last night. (We don’t talk much.) She was excited, knowing that I’ve never gone overseas. Still, she wanted me to be vigilant. I braced for her to say something offensive about Muslims and terrorism. (She’s done it before. Again, we don’t talk much.) Instead, she warned me of pickpockets. “Like in Oliver Twist,” she said. “Yes, mother,” I said. “I’ve seen the movie. I know what Fagin looks like.” (She didn’t pick up on my sarcasm. As I said, we don’t talk much.)

Sadly, there’s some truth that the apple doesn’t far from the tree. I may not be any more evolved. My notions of England are from books and movies. The Oscar-winning musical “Oliver Twist” was my favorite movie as a kid, with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” a close second. Dickens’ Oliver Twist remains my favorite novel. I couldn’t get enough of the Merchant-Ivory movies of the ‘80s, like “A Room with a View”, “Maurice” and “Howards End”. And I loved the Emma Thompson-penned “Sense & Sensibility”. England is a place of singing orphans, candy-concocting Oompa Loompas and very proper folk who dress in period costumes.

Oh, but I have contemporary images, too. England is the land of bumblers, from Mr. Bean to Basil Fawlty, from Mark Darcy of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” to Bridget Jones of, well, you know. And then there’s Hugh Grant in most anything (including “BJD”).

It’s also the land of tennis. Wimbledon. People who play in all-white and snack on strawberries and cream between sets. I may have to pack an extra suitcase just for puffy white shirts and white sportswear. It’s important that I fit in. Nothing worse than standing out as a foreigner.

So let’s just say it would be better if I head to London with no expectations. I have a hunch I’ve got a lot to learn. Let it all begin from one of those obligatory tours on the open deck of a double-decker bus. Hopefully, there will be a stop where I can take a selfie with an Oompa Loompa. And, with a little luck, we’ll be photobombed by Mr. Bean in the midst of an epic pratfall.

This is going to be so much better than sofa shopping!

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