A World City Called London

24 January 2011

My 3rd first impression of London is that it’s so dense. You turn a corner and you get a whole new set of things you can look at and visit.

Real Londoner

However, my real first impression of after getting into a London cab after having had a few at a tiny, little, traditional pub: The Jerusalem Tavern, with my mate Mark. What happened was, a fellow London cab driver cut our London cab driver off as he was trying to get into a lane. He was beeping and flashing this guy like there was no fucking tomorrow. 2 minutes later, the same happened again. Our humble driver now vocalised his emotions

“You stupid fuckin’ cun’!” Pause… “I’ll knock your fuckin’ block off, mate.” Honking of horns pursued. They gave each the finger as they passed. “I guess you get that all the time, mate.” “Wot’s tha’?” I don’t think he realised we could ever hear him, as he had to turn on a speaker & mic to speak to us. Mark repeated himself. “Yeah, we do get cunts like him, y'know. Cut me off ‘ere, ven didn’t signal… fuckin’'ell. Ya know my hair used to be like your’s, and I’ve been at vis fer only 6 monks!” We both stared blankly at his shiny bald patch and greying sides. “Nah I’m jokin’. Been a’ i’ for much longer van vat.” He found us an all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut place and we said our goodbyes (or'ta tas’)

And just like that, you get the different side to London that makes you realise it’s a capital city, not just a pretty place for rich people & tourists alike.

But where do all these things combine? Capital city characteristics, rich people and tourists… Parliament House, of course! Or as they call it here:

House of Parliament

That the UK is a democracy is of great benefit to the people. You can see this so called'democracy’ in all of its so called'glory’ for free, all at the House of Parliament!

The problem is, every tourist who can see Big Ben knows this, so one can wait in the queue for at least 2 hours to get in and watch the talking. However, there are 2 things that these masses of people who wait around all day lack. It is firstly the knowledge that the House of Parliament is open until whenever the hell the men in suits want to stop talking, and secondly, and most importantly, it is that they don’t have the combined stupidity and cleverness of youth.

But what does all this mean?

It means that my friend Mark and I knew that House of Parliament is open until 3am many nights, thus we could go in without any hassle of queues and in whatever physical state we would happen to be in.

So the plan was set, and off we went from our local tube station to get to Tottenham Court Road tube station. Mark and I always made a quiet joke of the seriousness of those on London’s infamous underground rail network, so we would always be looked upon badly as we walked onto a train laughing to ourselves. For no reason whatsoever, this particular time we decided not to snigger and got on the train like'the rest of them’. Unfortunately, somebody didn’t want to get on the train like the rest of them, as this festively plump youth (perhaps not festively - it had been at least 3 weeks since Christmas) was sprinting down the stairs as the all-too-familiar beeping of the closing train doors were going off. Leaping through the closing doors to avoid being rebounded from a gap he knew he wouldn’t be able to get through, he got smacked in the side and, to all intensive purposes, was bowled over completely by it. He got up and readjusted himself as if nothing had happened and met his friend on a nearby seat. For Mark & I, it was'so much for that decision to not laugh’.

The steel clanged and groaned as much as the Londoners should have done as we sprinted inappropriately up the escalators.

This turned to a sudden crawl going from pub to pub. Noticing my indecisiveness at the selection of drinks, a woman exclaimed

“The pride’s on!” raising her glass proudly to me. “Is it any good?” I replied, interested. “I don’t know… But the pride’s on!”

I realised she was talking about “London Pride”, a horrible watery ale (but is there any other kind?). Well, you can’t be too critical - she represented the brand appropriately! Both in the sense that she had pride, but also in the sense of'completely fucked’.

Sometime later we got back on the uplifting environment that is London Underground, heading on to Westminster to finally see this House of Parliament.

Walking up out of the tube station, all you can see is Big Ben. To this sight, Mark said

Man, I gotta say sometimes I’m proud to be English.

Or words to that effect, anyway.

It does look stunning at night. You also forget how big it is.

(tee hee hee)

So we walked over to Westminster building and walked right up to the ticket vendor, where she asked whether we were there to see parliament or not. I thought Nah, we’re only here because we’ve got this weird thing for talking to ticket vendors and policeman late at night.

We got our tickets and went through a rather intense security check. It was like at the airports except with a thermal check too. Proof, you’re asking for, officer? Let me see…

So, walking up to the House of Commons was pretty cool. I could imagine people bustling through awkwardly up the creaky little stairs to get to the House of Commons viewing room. They were just wide enough for 1 and a half people - a typically useful and English dimension for a corridor. Ok, laying off the new England, “ye olde England” was interesting as I was thinking of how many people had walked up the stairs as myself, and yet, there was not a single other soul on there that night apart from 2 pissed youths.

Finally getting to the viewing area we saw 6 men in suits talking to each other down on the floor, and 1 security guard. Did we have to be dead silent? I thought so.

I also thought I would have been able to put my jacket down on the pew-like chairs in front of me. No, no, no! Watching me struggle getting my jacket off and straightening it all out and whatnot; finally getting just a little fibre of my jacket on the chair in front , the security guard points at me sternly and said “Take the jacket off there, please!”. Just as if he was waiting for it to happen.

The actual situation in front of us was torturously boring. Just with 4 politicians talking about some negligible financing option within the UK with respect to the EU, if I remember correctly. The topic was as disappointing as the politicians’ manner; I thought they’d be normal people debating with neither camera nor other persons around, but no, they had that pretentious tone of rhetoric in their voice that I know that you all know what I mean by, getting absolutely nowhere. Don’t get me wrong - all due kudos to them for running the country, but Christ almighty, it could be done more efficiently to say the least.

Of course I found this all very funny and was naturally giggling away for the whole duration of the visit. My mate Mark on the other hand was keeping a straight back & face, which unfortunately backfired on him as we were leaving. Mark was certain that you have to bow to the House as you leave the viewing area, so bowed he did, to which the door attendant smirked at me as if he were taking the piss. After Mark’s majestic leave and my wobbly one, after a forgotten amount of time in the house, we went through to the lobby area to go. Mark went to'break the seal’, so I strolled around the place admiring the building and dead silence of the place. I got sick of walking around in circles so eyed some old-looking chairs by a fireplace, strolling slowly and casually towards them. The microsecond my arse touched the leather I heard a “get up off of there, please!” from 2 security guards who were eyeing me just as intently for the past 20 seconds. What the fuck?! These sadistic security guard bastards loved waiting for the precise moment at which I would do these wrongdoings (remember the jacket?) which are both physically and mentally impossible to know whether they’re wrong or not. Just like last time, I respected the prohibited and got up.

So back on the tube we went to get some sleep.

Why?

In 2 days time it was the 26th of January… which meant quite a lot for a surprising amount of non-Australians!

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