|Big Ben, London, United Kingdom|
After Italy, I flew into London to meet an old friend named Ilya, and his wife, Mandy, in London. Although Ilya is Russian and Mandy's Malaysian Chinese, both are New Zealand citizens. I haven't seen Ilya in eight years, which was when I was living in New Zealand. So, I was excited to see Ilya and he, me. It's been a long time.
From the airport, I took the train into London. It was the same train that I rode 15 years ago. (I was studying my physics then, in the South of England, under a Scottish professor who was skeptical of everything.) I couldn't believe the tickets had the same design and color. The route was the same. The only difference was that the demographics of London has seemed to change a lot; there are a lot more foreigners. It appears that the foreign population is larger than the native one.
It was a bit of shock to come into London from Italy. In Italy, we were living the slow and relaxed way of life. At the train station and the Underground (which is the name for their subway), it was so busy and hectic. People were rushing to get to their next location. The whole place seemed to be moving at a much faster pace. And in that rush, while I dragged my luggage down the stairs to the Tube, I cracked one of the wheels. It set me back 30 pounds.
And I felt sorry for London, because although it's advancing, I asked myself what it's losing to advance so fast. Ilya and I ate at an Indian restaurant for lunch and next to me was a young student, eating alone. Because he was eating alone, I introduced myself, eventually. He told me he was studying at one of the best schools in the United Kingdom, the London School of Economics. But he seemed lonely.
I wanted to invite him to our party. But I never got the chance.
When I told Ilya my scheme, he said, "Paul, you can just invite random people over."
I said, "Why not? He seemed lonely."
Ilya shook his head. I think they think I'm crazy. Maybe, I am.
I told him, I need to bring him a stray cat, then. He said that would be even worse. I protested that it'd be lucky for him. He didn't believe me.
While I was in London, I was lucky, though. The glorious sun came out and warmed the cold air. Nonetheless, the yellow smoke still slid along the streets.
Did you know that in Shakespeare's Henry IV part 2, the King of England tells Prince Hal that he should only appear in front of commoners once in awhile, because the King is like the sun in England. If you appear, only once in awhile in front of the people, they're happy to see you, as they're happy to see the sun. It's a difficult play to understand without knowing the history, but I love Henry IV. It has so much insight, like when Henry's partying friend, Falstaff pretends to be dead in the war, so as to not get killed. Falstaff believes better to be a coward and survive than be brave and die, though of course it's not royal conduct.
Back to be being in London. I didn't do much sightseeing in London. It's expensive. Almost everywhere you go, except for museums, they charge you.
Ilya and Mandy were hosting a Christmas party for Kiwis. There were 11 Kiwi guests. I'm half a Kiwi, since I have permanent residency but not citizenship. They wanted to make a turducken, which is a chicken stuffed into a duck, which is stuffed into a turkey.
I helped. I told them to bring the turkey, since turkey is generally bland. I also took the skin off the duck and blanketed it over the turkey, so the turkey skin would cook in duck grease. The roasted duck skin was crispy, fatty, and to die for.
During the Christmas party, we played pass the parcel (package). The parcel is wrapped ball of strips of toilet paper. Every once in awhile, when you remove a strip, a joke or instructions or a gift comes out. It's like hot potato, and if the parcel lands on you, you unwrap a part of the parcel.
When I unwrapped my parcel, it told me to lick my elbow. I looked stupid. Everybody laughed. Everybody drank too, mainly mulled wine, which is spiced red wine. Ilya, being Russian, also passed the shots of vodka around.
After the party ended, around 02:30AM, we all slept. We all slept in.
The next day, I went to the British Museum. I didn't do much sight seeing, but I loved the British Museum. I loved seeing the Egyptian sculptures of the pharaohs and the sphinxes. They were huge. They were grand. They were so impressive!
I also saw the mummies, and I felt like a kid again. I imagined that they would wake up and chase after me in the museum. Oh, they were so wicked to see. Do you think they really have curses and can become ghouls? Who knows?
Well, after British Museum, I took the Tube to the airport. I was flying to Denmark. I'm just spending my time there, until Ludo and Eleonora come to London. Then, it's time to continue the good times.