In Greenwich, Sicker, and Embarrassment on the Tube

July 3, 1997

It rained while we were at Greenwich today. Crummy weather. You’d never know it’s July. Damp and cold as a Michigan November. It kinda brings you down, and I’m already tired. I need to sleep. I’ve done a lot of walking, but I am really excited about everything. I think I have a cold or something. My throat feels worse now.

We couldn’t decide if people living in Greenwich divided their houses into two time zones if the Meridian ran through their living rooms or if the whole town was on one clock. No one here should be late, ever, to anything. ₤3 for admission to see the longitude line!

We walked through the village during a stretch of uncharacteristically sunny and warm weather. Browsed some record shops and used bookstores. I didn’t buy anything — too expensive! Stopped for tea at a cute little shop.It came with sandwiches and little cakes. How veddy British. Mint-chocolate, lemon-strawberry and caramel-coffee cream. Absolutely lovely. Everything is cute here. Such a tourist zone! There are more Frenchmen and Germans than British around here.

Now I just want to sleep. I want to brush my teeth and collapse. Why do I have to get sick? I guess it’s hardly a surprise with such close quarters on the tube, grasping posts and hand rails that everyone and his babysitter has sneezed on. Gotta plan an itinerary for the UK traveling I have to do. Plus we still have to buy tickets to the Reduced Shakespeare Co. show.

After our Greenwich, we ferried back to Westminster. Much of the Thames riverfront is disgusting. Algae grows freely on the embankments, and quite a few buildings are the slummiest examples of artless modern architecture and urban decay.

As we proceeded, looking up every few minutes, I could see that the folks with money are doing what they can to make the riverfront the hopping metropolitan showcase it should be. Luxury hotels are cropping up next to new shopping plazas. Old buildings are being marvelously restored. Lots of construction, or “engineering works,” as they call it here, going on closer to the City.

Today it was my turn to have an episode. We got on the Tube at Embankment Station. It was exceptionally crowded. Lisa and Sarah got on first, and I didn’t think I would fit. I hesitated, thinking maybe I should just take the next train, kind of annoyed that they had plowed forward with no room for me. But at the last minute, I decided to chance it and jump on board. Unfortunately my backpack got stuck in the closing doors.

I screamed gently, more out of embarrassment than fear. It was well stuck, and I was afraid it would be lost for good. Isn’t there a sensor that knows when something is stuck in the doors? I just kept pulling hard on my straps until it came loose. Sarah and Lisa were meanwhile in hysterics, and I suppose the London commuters were amused by the silly American.

My Kit-Kat bar was mangled. (It was to be a souvenir.) But my books seemed to have avoid serious damage.  I’ll wait for the next train next time.

Just a quiet night tonight. Got back to Commonwealth in time for dinner. Ate even though I wasn’t hungry. The food’s been paid for. I can’t consider wasting the money.

Hung out with Sarah and Lisa in their room until past midnight telling stories from our past. They had mud masks on, and Sarah plucked Lisa’s eyebrows while we talked. They’re fabulous, by the way, these girls.  I told them about how my best friend Jason told me to stop calling or coming over after his dad found out I was gay.

Yikes! What a downer.


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the untallied hours

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