Moving house: poetic ode to the Northern Line

Goodbye Northern line!
Goodbye, goodbye!
Five years you’ve carried me,
And now I say goodbye.

Like a rough lover,
You swept me off my feet.
Lolita in your lap,
Kisses…not so sweet.

Branching fingers,
Bewildering, breaking,
Endlessly engineering,
Too oft forsaking.

I have wondered at your length,
I have explored your every zone.
By day I feel your rumble,
At night I hear you moan.

I wandered through your Woodside Park,
You cupped the Oval of my heart.
East Finchley was all air and light,
Tooting Bec has been alright.

With weary feet,
I trace your spine,
Each vertebra familiar,
On the Northern Line.

Goodbye my Cleopatra, 
My thunderous Nubian queen.
We’ll be on the move shortly,
And the signal ahead is green.

Next time our paths cross,
You’ll be no longer mine.
I’m off to greener pastures,
I’m off to the District Line.

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Asian girl with a British attitude

That’s what the guy called me.

I couldn’t believe it.

I’d been politely saying “excuse me” over and over again, waiting at a paella stall at Borough Market, desperately trying to get a takeaway meal that I could rush off with because I was late.

I had managed to get the attention of a waitress and then a waiter, but both said I needed to wait for the ‘chef’ to put the paella in a box for me.

The chef was standing right in front of me, holding a plate of food, hollering for someone to take it away, and not looking at me. He’s the one I’d been saying “excuse me” to.

Eventually he dumps the plate on the counter, and goes to get a box.

“I heard you,” he said. He looks at me, eyebrows raised.

“But you decided to ignore me??” I was incredulous. Why didn’t he acknowledge my frantic squeaks? Just a nod or a “I’ll be with you in a sec” would have been totally fine.

Excuse me! Excuse me!” he chimed. “You’re an Asian girl with a British attitude.”

WTF?

What did he mean? I was completely taken aback.

Excuse me! Excuse me!

So now I know he meant it as a bad thing.

“What’s a British attitude?” I asked, bristling.

Excuse me! Excuse me!” He spooned paella into a box.

“What’s the right attitude?” I demanded, a little louder. “What should I have done?? Click my fingers and say ‘service!’?”

“If you were in Europe, you would have hit me over the head with a bottle”, he laughed, not good-humouredly. I stared. Was he being nice or horrid? His general tone was derisive. I got the feeling it was the latter. The way he said “excuse me excuse me” made it sound like he thought I was pathetic and childish. Was I? Is that what a British attitude was?

“What???”

“For your ‘excuse me excuse me’, you can have this.” He put a bit of chorizo on the box of food. So now he’s being nice?!

I still don’t understand what’s just happened.

I was so cross I could barely eat the food.

He’s right. I am an Asian girl with a British attitude. So what?

Some progress: Roald Dahl and a Good Deed

There’s been some progress. But not loads.

I researched Roald Dahl

…by going on this authoritative website http://www.roalddahl.com/

This was brilliant! Loads of interesting information, and even recorded interviews with the man himself!

A couple of takeaway thoughts –

  1. RD says he wouldn’t have been able to write stories for children if he hadn’t had any. I have yet to reproduce. Should I wait to write?? Or should I impregnate myself in the name of literature? Or, should I, like RD, write darkly humorous tales for adults until the happy day comes for my own little (appropriately timed) pitter patters to inspire me?
  2. RD takes advice from Hemingway about writing – stop when it’s going good, so you don’t have to face going back to a numb page.
  3. RD wrote from 10-12 pm – hurrah! I can be a night owl and still achieve! I’ve been worried for a while about being notoriously dysfunctional before midday… now it all seems my concerns were unfounded.
  4. RD does say he keeps his bum on the chair for the full 2 hours every night, whether he’s getting anything done or not. I need to start committing this level of discipline.
  5. RD’s face doesn’t look like how I imagined… he still looks pretty cool, but I must say a tad weird/scary. I suppose that makes sense.

I done a Good Deed.

On Tuesday, I was hurrying along (late) to meet a friend for a Jazz Dance class. Behind my office there is a little shortcut to the bus stop and I was scuttling up the cobbles at top speed.

A woman was lying on the steps of a small, closed building a woman. I glanced at her; her eyes were closed and there was a bottle of wine in a plastic carrier bag a couple of metres from her. Categorising her as “drunk tramp lady” I kept walking. A man behind me also glanced at her, and kept walking.

For some unknown reason, I turned back – just in case y’know.

I lightly patted her arm, upon which she blearily opened her eyes.

  • ME: “Erm are you ok?”
  • LADY: “gjhkg rghr mmmm no”
  • ME: “Sorry, what did you say?”
  • LADY: “no sdfds jhgf nf”
  • ME: “Have you hurt yourself”
  • LADY: “kajhhdf yes jh”
  • ME: “Pardon? Have you got a sore arm? Do you need to go to hospital?”
  • LADY: “bfghgfh yes jhj go private”
  • ME: “Ah ok. I’ll go see if I can find some help. Are you from Scotland?”

As it was, the lady explained she was from Glasgow – which many will confirm is a beautiful friendly city, abundant with drunken crazy ladies.

It seemed clear to me the lady had had a few drinks (ref. wine bottle) and had slipped and fallen on her arm, which she was holding out stiffly at a weird angle. She was also talking strangely, which I put down to the effects of alcohol.

I’m telling this calmly, but at the time I was very flustered and stressed, being unsure of what The Right Thing To Do was, and whether I was going to be bottled by a drunken Glaswegian lady.

I frantically ran around the corner and yelled to a nearby taxi, explaining there was a lady who was unwell. The taxi man only took cash, so I ran ran to get money whilst pointing out the taxi to Lady.

I haven’t the foggiest idea how to get round London, despite living there for 5 years, so we were at the mercy of the taxi driver to take us to the nearest hospital. Meanwhile, I awkwardly made (one-sided) conversation with Lady, who was very friendly and kept thanking me profusely and apologising and asking to go private (unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how to oblige this request, never having ‘gone private’ myself). When we finally arrived at the hospital, she flat refused for me to pay and flung her handbag towards me. I rooted around in it, feeling very uncomfortable and pulled out a loose £10 note for the driver. She got out the taxi with some difficulty, her arm still very stiff, and her bag fell so that loose change went flying. The sweet taxi driver picked up every coin, to the last penny.

We made our way into the hospital reception, where poor Lady collapsed into a waiting chair, because she was feeling very dizzy and sick by this point. I went up to the desk to explain to the receptionist that I had a poorly lady who had hurt her arm and felt sick. The receptionist said we had to go to A&E which was out the door and in another building or they couldn’t help. I went back to Lady but by this point she was refusing to budge because she was so dizzy. In the end, the receptionist helped me support Lady into a wheelchair – which bizarrely couldn’t be pushed, only dragged behind me, so I was forced to walk backwards. I set off, dragging Lady, and found the entrance to A&E, Unfortunately, the automatic doors didn’t work so I had to try and hold both doors open with one hand, and pull the chair through with the other. This was impossible. Luckily a passerby came and held the door open. Even with two hands, there was a tiny ridge in the floor of the doorway, which was enough to tip the chair when I tried to get it through. In the end, both the Passerby and I had to lift the chair over said Tiny Ridge to get in. Finally at the desk, the Receptionist No.2 put her face to the desk to squeeze under the glass window and ask whether the Lady had been to this hospital before. When I explained Lady was a poorly stranger who was dizzy and had a sore arm, she was immediately full of sympathy and efficiency. She came round, said thank you and that they’d look after Lady now, and that I could go. Lady cried “Aye! Go Hooome!” and so I departed my lady, feeling still torn and worrisome, now that we’d come so far.

After telling this story to friends, it transpires that the poor Lady had probably had a stroke, hence the strange talking and stiff arm (yes I know, I felt awful). Which seems so sad, and frightening, that you can have a stroke in the centre of London and fall unconscious, only to be ignored by passersby and labelled a drunken tramp. I felt guilty and ashamed, and immensely glad that I had gone back.

I am not usually a Doer of Good, preferring to stay apathetic and in my own bubble. This is probably my first Good Deed ever. However, the high of Helping is addictive.

Later that evening, I heard the clink of a glass bottle and a woman’s yelp.

“Are you alright??!” I immediately cried out.

She’d stubbed her toe on a beer bottle.

Maybe I could become the next Superwoman.