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Friday, March 24, 2006


Look right, walk left: Obvious, really, in a country that drives on the left: before stepping off the curb to cross, check right for those silent Jags and Mini Coopers that whip left and assume you're not *bent* on stepping under their wheels.

Walk right: again, for a country that drives left, i've now twigged that we also *walk* left, same as in the US where two pedestrians approaching head-on veer to the right. I've been veering right and causing all sorts of confusion. Now I know.

Registration: even before i left the US, i was boasting/assuring the Spitfire of my plans to hit the ground running with my ESL/TEFL courses. We'd both be facing exams, sharing school nights.

Called her the other night and first question was, "Have you signed up?" I hadn't - faffing, slacking - and i confessed and promised better.

Have fixed pic of that girl (scroll up) to my book and one to the laptop.

That gaze is not one to trifle with or let down.

Bagging: shock horror - one bags one's own shopping. Not having enjoyed an American upbringing, complete with statutory duty as Safeway serf, I am revealed in all my incompetence.

*Why-y* didn't i pay more attention to those expert youths - Stef, Chris, Barb (*mature* youth), 'Sir'Patrick - who so deftly assembled my purchases?

Expertise:The other night I was behind a trio of which the son was packing with lightning expertise. Clearly Americans: mother, creamy-complexioned blond, costly threads, not a hair out of place; daughter a mini version; son, sturdy Jake Guillenhaal lookalike, bagging n double-bagging and flapping the bags open with practised ease.

As my own stuff came over the transom, I gave him an appreciative nod, "I could do with your skill. What? Pocket money at QFC?"

Quick smile of recognition and a mumble-drawled "Kinda like that."

Missing the place already.

Netcafé: down to my home-base Kings Walk netcaff to pay bills and check email. As I set my seat up and take my jacket off, a stunning blond is shoving coins in. I shove mine in and enter the numbers except that they've not printed right and are missing the middle numeros, hence invalid to the PC. As usual, the slacker CS dude isn't there and I spot the lady queuing for the Subway rank to enquire. I tell her they haven't anything to do with the caff and the rep isn't there.

She looks suspicious, assorted dudes at their puters look up and *they* look suspicious at my cheap chatup ploy. She goes to the CS door and knocks; i shrug - "He's never there."

It's her first time there and she's not likely back soon. I offer a £1 coin for her ticket so she wont lose her money and so i can claim for both. She doesn't quite see what the catch is but turns me down.

More folks turn up and make to insert coins. I warn them but they dismiss me with a glance and shove their money in. I suggest they look at their tickets and sure enough, misprinted.

They look puzzled and indignant but i am not sympathetic. The blond leaves.

Technicolored dream cabs: I must snap and post. When i left the UK, cabs were black. Now they are every color and advertisement under the sun, but still with those useful yellow lights atop for distant recognition. Buses: have i said this before? God bless the coloring red of buses - it means ones can spot a bus from 100s of yards off.

It ain't personal: those bus drivers have a schedule to stick to so they're hard-assed about re-opening doors for latecomers, even those who miss by a few seconds.

If you run, they have mercy - sometimes - but mostly it's hard luck.

Another thing: you don't hail and no one wants to get off, the bus storms by. Same as everywhere. But also, if the bus is behind another one and opens the door a few yards back and you're not paying attention, assuming it'll make the remaining few yards and collect you - fuggedit. It guns up and storms by, leaving startled citizens waving and cussing.

Great fun if you're in the bus; lousy if trying to catch it.

Sleepin in: Oh the effort to lie in and start one's day late. My Freedom pass isn't valid til 9am but i'm so used to being up at sparrow-fart that i've been experiencing nasty signals about my card being rejected. Complained to a beefy Tube employee who told me accusingly, "Not til 9".

OK - now  i know why all those lecherous old duffers are standing outside the tube stations eyeing the talent. And i thought it was plain shameless ogling.

Blood test: they tell you to fast the night before, the form reminds you, i note it in my diary and assure la belle Emily that i'll follow orders. what do i do? trencherman brek of yoghurt n honey, scrambled eggs n bacon, toast and marmalade, refills of Lapsang.

i arrive at the clinic and the jennie love hewitt receptionist casually checks that i've starved. d'ohh!

I smite forehead and apologise, she beams tolerantly (glance at my age) and is perfectly understanding about memory at our senior age.

Leave clinic in rage and vow to focus. Darn! Quel humiliation.

As punishment, straight home and work a few hard hours on TEFL book.

Leap on bus, ascend to top deck and dive into next chapter. Focus. Tolerant of age, i'll show them.

City streets give way to suburban sprawl; aircraft banking. Right bus, wrong side of the road. Descend with measured gait and satisfied check of chronometer as if to let everyone know, "Excellent time - north Chiswick bang on schedule."

Rescued Christian Peacemaker: front page news of buffoon Norman Kember's rescue in Iraq. Much emphasis in local media that it was *British* special soldiery that snagged him sans a shot or life lost.

Yesterday's press mentioning his Christian Peacemaker  connection, today's sensibly denying them the publicity.

What an idiot. And what a temptation for the SAS stalwarts who hauled him out of there not to put their own bullet into his senior temple for risking their lives and taking them away from the important stuff.

Who can have patience with these addle-pated oldies with their loony do-gooder ideas?

Even his wife expressed exasperation and i trust when she's got him back home and up to form that she'll give the twit a right talking to.

PS - see RWells' great comment below

Cycles: Page 3 of the excellent Evening Standard rails against the "Pavement Pariahs" complete with pic of those wretched cyclists who use the sidewalk.

Links, to boot:

  • LCC
  • Think "Road"
  • ROSPA Road Safety

    Seattle: The number of times I was almost hit from behind in Seattle by these oafs.

    I'd love to have had a slow-mo of one incident when i happened to turn left just as a cyclist breezed by along that strip under Alaska Way. His handlebar caught the strap of my hardy Amazon.com bag, whipping it off my shoulder but almost immediately snagging in some hardier protuberance, stopping the bike in its tracks and sending the rider ass over tit. Unfortunately, he wasn't deservedly injured, nor happened there to be some Chelsea tractor bombing along as he skidded left across the vehicular roadway.

    As with motorised phonistas whom I watch in case i can bear witness in some court case or coroner's investigation, I look forward to the day when I can contribute to a motorist going scot-free or ram the message home in front of sobbing kin of some selfish ex-peddler.

    Speaking of ex- - nasty irony following some yobs playing chicken with a train line and one of the creeps buying it. Usual nonsense, of course, about the crossing being ill-lit, which I trust will be tossed out of court.

    Usual vigil and candles and crap laid at the site of the punk's misjudged prank. Totally unconnected, a driver loses control and drives into a bunch of mournful pals, sending yet another to the Promised Land.

    No particular moral there except that if a mate of yours is idiot enough to play chancer, don't waste time on sincerity grieving rubbish: mail a Hallmark to the parents and get on with your own sensible life.

    I have an E string to buy for the Ovation and a 2nd-hand Taylor to look at; just a seam-like crack, the owner tells me. At $800, it might be a bargain if the real McC.

    Spec Forces Club: On subject of SAS types - excellent security. Been out of country so long, forgot their precise north london address. Phoned and was courteously put thru all hoops before being reminded of the locale.

    Can u imagine the damage if the wrong folks got wind of where the top ferrets relax?

  • Comments:
    Christian Peacemakers need Christian Pacemakers - at the first sign of trouble Pacemaker kicks in and Christian begins oozing from stigmata type wounds, thus shocking and awing n'ere-do-well pagan-types.
    Good alert one, Richard. Ta.
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