The Royal Wedding 2011

29 April 2011

London, UK

1 – In the Beginning…

I don’t know why it matters what alarm tone you choose to wake up to in the morning, because they’re all so distrurbing. Especially when you’re practically sleeping on the ceiling. After silencing the alarm, I’m lucky that my drom-mates didn’t turn into dorm-enemies and throw their old socks and damp towels at me–it’s all we have anyway.

After being more impressed by the volume of jam than the taste of it (probably about 30L of it) on toast, I hop into the taxi for ten minutes then hop out again, where the blue hue of the Generator, eerily similar to Amsterdam’s red lights, greet me.

Why have one breakfast when you can have two? More blue neon lighting in the eating area and boppy pop music makes this a very strange way to start a once in a lifetime day, munching on six different types of cereal.

On the corner, three Australians meet, knowing neither each other properly nor what chaos lay in the day ahead, so we laughed about each others’ last night stories.

The tube to Green Park was more like a bacteria experiment, as the amount of people traffic doubled, then that figure quintupled as we got closer to ‘the place to be’, until we all turned into one great flowing mass of people heading out to hazard a glance at something “exciting”.

The Mall, by the way, is the big stretch of road leading to Buckingham Palace where all the Royal Family parade through.

My 1st plan is ruined at this point, because the main park to get to The Mall is closed off. I’m a bit worried for all the poor people trapped inside, but the thousands of punters leaning over the fence are envious of the trapped. It’s crowds watching crowds and it’s difficult to sense what 90% of people are actually here for.

Next is to get in from the other side, but Trafalgar Square is closed off too. Do we wait someplace to get onto The Mall, with the unknowing of the pigeon flying with another because all the others are thinking there’s food being thrown? Or, do we be English and go to the pub? Somehow, the decision is for the pub.

2 – Plan B

Prince William’s nervousness rubs onto me, for each second that passes is another second that is wasted watching something that can be watched over and over again, when we are just 200m away from the real thing; and for me, where there are the largest amount of people I may ever see in one spot in my life.

Why this Royal Wedding obsession, anyway? Of course, to get to the place where everything’s happening is only going to happen once, but do I really care about those random people who got lucky in inheriting one of the largest fortunes in the world? Of course not! To be in the place that two million people came into–to be a part of what two billion are watching–is too much of a once in a lifetime thing to miss.

Then there are those who complain and whinge about all the'sheep’ getting whipped up into a frenzy by'the media, man’ and'the establishments!’. It’s not that I’m opposed to abolishment of the monarchy, I’m just a bit… confused by the way they are completely dismissive of most or all aspects of the royal wedding and the whole royal situation. Those who'aren’t interested’ in a world city bursting at the seams over something so trivial I feel just don’t get it, nor are they influencing'the brainwashed millions’.

Abyway, certainly more annoying than this is the constant being turned around by security at every single little entrance and exit to anywhere in central London other than Hyde Park. I ramp up the game of cat and mouse a bit by pushing through the unknowing crowds to the front. They all say the same when I ask them what they’re waiting for. “Umm… I don’t actually know!” smiling and laughing.

3 – Persevering

Eventually my friends and I split which, after two hours of hitting dead ends, makes perfect sense for any normal person.

Walking through the empty streets of central London is very, very strange. It’s like an old Western film; I’m expecting a echoey whistle then a clinking of horse-riding boots.

I accidentally make it to Trafalgar Square. I was standing here only for about two minutes, and the crowds probably triples in that time. This is actually outside Trafalgar Square, which itself is outside the Mall. So this is like a tertiary crowd, but it’s just growing and growing.

[video coming soon]

Somehow get to this street that is the closest to The Mall.

[video coming soon]

Suddenly, they open the gates, the flood begins.

4 – What We Came For

Pushing through such sizeable crowds was both tiring and hypnotizing at the same time; in the sense that a view other than another person’s head and shoulders, a smell other than a man’s body odour, feeling other than pushing past somebody and a thought other than getting past the next barrier, ever closer to Buckingham Palace is a big snap back to reality.

The Mall is covered in discarded Union Jacks and rubbing, along with people’s tolerance & interest in the wedding, I assume.

[video coming soon]

There’s still one more event, “the kiss”, which brings everybody right up to the palace once the barriers are all down. Knowing each person I run past gives me not a better view of the palace, but a better atmosphere, so I up the pace a bit.

[video coming soon]

Something from the masses. A cheer? I’m not sure, and I don’t think many people are either, as the cheer passes like the fall of dominoes down through the road.

[video coming soon]

There’s still one more barrier though, and that’s the whole atmosphere itself; of jubilation and hysteria. I’m in it now, and there’s only one other non-royal man in the world who has gotten past that barrier: a Jamaican standing proudly on a lamp post, two metres above everyone else. I make myself the second in the world. Passing this barrier gives me the most dramatic spectacle all year.

[video coming soon]

You can’t get that dramatic feeling across on the video, either, because for me this was a whole day’s worth of pushing, shoving and selfishness. My legs and arms start to shake with fatigue, so I stand there even longer and climb a bit higher.

[video coming soon]

The staring faces, the cries of'medic’ and'doctor!’ in all languages as a spectator collapses (nothing I can do) and the proud cry of “God Save the Queen” from another fellow lamp-poster’s trumpet all takes part in what is a sublime reward of going against the odds.

5 - Afterparty

My weary limbs take me to remeet my friends, and we decide a nap is in order; a long night ahead is likely. We eat in Covent Garden and I get speaking to John, a homeless father and ex-husband. His problem is “the drink” as he points his thick, callused finger to the 9.8%alc/vol on his beer can, though he assures me he’s never violent with it, unlike those other drug addicts. For this, he recalls a man he saw getting heroin injected into his testicles. John is not disgusted, nor angry, just sad at this. He’s convinced the NHS (UK’s health system) is the best in the world and that the British monarchy is a parasite of it. “I say fuck the Queen, that’s what I say.” He waves his hand away and looks out to the street performers. “You know these guys are complete rubbish. They’re all talk.” John is just like any other 55-year-old, and he talk about blood donation like he’s donated the same figure. Though, like any other homeless person, he has the urge for people to listen to him. When we gesture to leave John’s final recommendation is to find out my blood type for swiftness of treatment if ever I get into an accident. Wise words.

I’m reminded it’s Friday and I’m staying in what is supposedly a'party hostel’, with its own bar and numbing stream of pop music. I’m not sure who it’s supposed to satisfy. People who’ve never visited the UK before. I can imagine this place making 75% of their profit from Eastern European school groups.

It’s 4pm and I’m completely losing consciousness on to of bed number 8 (which is hung up upside down on the wall), people stamp their feet hastily, like they’ve got a big night coming up, but I stay on top of the doona, fully clothed. The social lubricant is almost applied to everyone, sine I doze on for the sake of stamina. The door continues to slam like a hypnotic metronome, and I’m gone.

6 – After afterparty

The metronome of the dooor is still going when I wake again, following somebody turning on these harsh, unforgiving lights. They must all be like this. Ah. Yes. It’s 9pm. Time to go… but where?

I’m reaching aimlessly for my free drink voucher. These clothes smell like the Easter Show, by the way. It’s that same odour, a product of heat, body heat, dirt, general filth and a need of a change of socks.

I can’t seem to get act on any thoughts in an orderly way, but before too long I’m fresh and nervous of loneliness for the next couple of hours. What if everyone in the bar is already speaking to somebody, or is dancing? This nervousness made me forget I was already at the bar. I silence my brain and spit out the 1st drink that comes to my mind: double G&T. Ok, that’ll do. As I survey the bar and its patrons, I find the voucher in my hand for the free drink. The bartender takes it and makes a single G&T. In my other hand, my phone buzzes, telling me that the friends I was due to meet can’t go out after all.

Struck with confusion and helplessness, I turn around, both hands with a short glass in them, nobody to meet later and nobody to meet up with now.I’m forced out of this daze by a camera flash. I see two young guys taking a photo of the bar.

“Ok guys, 1 2 3!”

My actions were ahead of my thoughts. I had just taken a photo of them both–a reflex–an opportunity taken to get talking. That’s something about me that has changed: I’ve become reflexively opportunistic; I know to take opportunities before I actually know that I’m taking them. Just shows what can happen when you need to change. Now I wonder whether it’ll be the same back home. We’ll see January 2011, as for now I’m learning where these guys come from.

The lime slides down the glass as I, with relief, finish drinks with other people. The Brazilians leave to change into jeans and I stand, satisfactorily, alone.

7 – Drinking Up to Expectations

So it’s to London’s notorious Camden town after all, with no more knowledge of where I’m going than before, despite reassuring these guys that something breathtaking there.

Looking at the general crowds around the tube station, Camden Town’s reputation still holds. So far so good. The locals recommend to me'the big pink building’ down the road after asking them. “This is not homosexual club?” I reply no, not because I’m hoping for the best, but because I’m relived to have heard of this place before, but not for the reason I find out later: a student died here from a heart attack on a normal night out.

My £7 takes me and the Brazilians through a narrow corridor then out to a huge theatre-like room. Imagine one of those old theatres with the rich people on balconies looking down at a stage; this is what this place used to be. Time passes and my teaching of the art of rounds works beautifully, because I become less and less aware of whose is whose. More time passes, and the live indie group thing finishes and I find myself talking to a Londoner and two Czechs, with comments about Mick Jagger lips being made.

Just as quickly, the club is closing and my Brazilian comrades have left me, and I had no idea about either. Even more shockingly, I’m invited back to the Londoner’s place with the 2 Czechs “on the Victoria line”. Ok… I ask where this place is in between mouthfuls of what seems like a kebab. Wait, what? Where did this come from? Ah, it must have been from the Middle Eastern man who gave me “a very special one for you, my friend”. To Seven Sisters it is.

8 – It’s a Seven Sisters Thing

“Don’t even talk about how bad it tastes, man, just chuck it.” “Just do whatever, he gets, um…” “He’s a vegetarian” the other Czech interrupts. I ask, shamelessly, Luke the Londoner whether I should become one myself. I take by his head nodding that he is completely disgusted–literally beyond words. Luke’s disgust likely has some sort of magic nature power to it, because as it rose quickly, the sun rose with it.

Not that I noticed it is broad daylight, 7am, and that two Czech girls were overly concerned about my hiccups.

The creaking open o the door to this guy’s apartment and the way I still have my “special” meal in my hands forces me to recount the past few hours.

Done.

Now that that’s over, I walk up the stairs into some sort of loungeroom-bedroom hybrid thing. Perhaps this is normal in the neighbourhood of Seven Sisters. We talk music for too long. One girl here is a spitting image of Rachael from Blade Runner, though not as tall. Luke looks like a guy who has been working at a cafe for too many years and Lucy looks like a fashion magazine cover model except with a few freckles. They all think it’s the 50s in the way they smoke their cigarettes–like it’s just as cool.

“So would you like to get into the cool underground London scene?” one asks me. I ask if that’s what they are a part of, and they say no behind their smoke cloud.

The Replicant lookalike draws the curtain. My tired eyes are soothed, but my weary head is confused even more as the Replicant in a typically unemotional manner says “Ok let’s make things interesting. Who’s going to strip?” My mind flashes back to Koko club (ah-ha that’s the name of the place!) and I see the Czechs behaving… liberally. Back in the room, I laugh but the others just assume it’s the hiccups. They suggest to each other in a “no! no you! no both of you two!” manner, just like they’ve let the 13 year old inside them temporarily take over.

The conversation drifts elsewhere, the ashtray fills. Fuck this bloody smoke makes me wish I still had that foul meal kebab thing to munch on. Speaking of which, where is that thing? There’s so much crap on the floor, I must have just added it to the collection. Maybe it’s a Seven Sisters thing.

I stand up because I see the others doing so. We exchange kind words as if we had just all made new friends, even though they all know each other. The intentions are good, butI have no idea what my intentions are. The Replicant disappears, so the model and I walk out in the now very, very bright light. It must be 8:30am. Not too early for a picnic, thinks Lucy, as she suggests a few places to eat on the grass. Bloody maniac; she starts work in an hour. Confused and disappointed, Lucy settles for tomorrow as we walk down the tube stairs.

“You seem angry with me!” I reply truly dumbfounded. “I will look disgusting and you’ll still look good in the morning” she continues. I reassure her that we both probably look neither good nor disgusting, we both just look ridiculous. She says in the morning, but is 9am not morning in the Czech Republic? She must be from Seven Sisters in the Czech Republic.

Foolish is a good description of me at the moment, it’s as if I’ve just awoken from a two hundred and seven year sleep in the same clothes from last night. We do our goodbyes. I flop my heavy head down in my unusually comfortable hands and close my eyes.

9 – There’s Only One Way Down, and That’s Down

“This is Vauxhall. This is a Victoria line service…

Fuck!

I fell asleep and actually travelled over fifteen miles from North all the way down to South London.

My bed is in Central London.

I walk up the escalator straight to the public bathrooms that look like they were constructed only with a cooking pot lids. There’s not much time for me to look around anyway as my stomach rumbles in the wrong way.

I go back down the escalators, some kilograms lighter, don’t'mind the gap’, stumble onto a train. There are people going to work beside me, who will get time and a half. I probably lost a whole Sunday shift’s work last night.

Taking one step per second is a lot slower than it sounds, especially when the sun burns your eyes to a cinder; liver weeping. The whole body weeps, in fact, at its unfortunate condition. The cheesy music of the hostel welcomes the grieving and adds my ears to those who weep.

9am. You know what that means? Free breakfast, and that’s as good as a reward as I could ask for for not sleeping on a warm, soft Regent Square underground station bench. Three bowlfuls of every type of cereal except that chocolate shite and the stomach weeps no more, and it’s finally time to call it a day.

Well, not quite.

I accidentally walk through to the lounge and see that retarded Australian woman beckoning me. I don’t remember a single thing that we said to each other.

Through, downstairs and up a ladder to my bunk. It’s been a long while since my last lie down so I don’t bother with any sort of going-to-bed rituals, like the trivial act of taking clothes off nor getting under a blanket. Thinking only of exhaustion, I’m out.

June 2nd, 2011 6:28am

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