Saturday, January 01, 2005

Merrie Newe Yeare

I won't try any more of the English accent typing, but I'm still in London. I'm at a better internet cafe than the previous one. (I didn't want to say anything, because I was brought up right, but the owner was chain-smoking in that particularly unapologetic European way, and if I had stayed in there another ten minutes, I could've tried blowing smoke rings every time I exhaled.)

This one is in Whitely's mall near our Bayswater tube station (I've been here, what, five days? And already I'm aware of my last tube station and my next tube station ... or, more to the point, one station that's supposed to work and the back-up you go to when it doesn't work. But more about that later.), and it has a lot of advantages -- a mouse and number pad being but two -- but it's a little noisy in here, so no one should expect great heaps of cleverness. Fair warning.

So Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2005 started out well. Mine was just a little surreal, which guarantees that I'll remember it for a long time. I have an aversion to gatherings of more than about four people, so the usual New Year's festivities have never held much attraction for me. One of the couple in our travel group volunteered their room on the top floor for a group party. I thought they were a little insane to think they could fit twelve people in their room, because I was under the impression that all the rooms in our small hotel are as ludicrously small as the room I'm in with my mother and sister. That one is supposedly a threesome room, and it's smaller than a single Motel 6 room. No, that doesn't begin to say it. It's smaller than a Motel 6 bathroom. Honest to God, we have to choreograph our movements in order to get back and forth. ("All right, I need to go into the bathroom, so why don't you back up -- no, watch out, you'll sit on the dresser -- okay now, mom, I'm going to open the bathroom door, so why don't you go outside and I'll signal when there's room for you to come back in.") I have never seen such a tiny room. And semi-functional in most ways -- no shower curtain or place to hang one, explosive water pressure, beds from the most ascetic Orthodox monastery of St. Vrykias the Sleep-averse, etc. etc. etc. Not exactly a party location. And by the way, this is not a cheesy hotel. It's beautiful to look at from the outside, and on a street that makes you think instantly of Sherlock Holmes going along in a hansom cab. But it's undeniably seedy in some regards, and I wouldn't have thought that anyone's room would be the right venue for a New Year's bash.

As it turned out, their room had a darling little sitting room, and that room and the bedroom were much more spacious than the rooms lower down. I don't know if that had something to do with them being more expensive back in the days when it was all a boarding house, but it was a delightful surprise.

As was the party itself. In any group like this, you can expect to have some people who are more difficult to be around. Some folks' idea of pleasant discourse has less to do with dialogue than monologue, and those are usually the ones whose point of view is sought out the least. You feel guilty for avoiding them, but I've decided that it's okay to be happy when they absent themselves from ostensibly pleasant gatherings. And so it happened this time. My sister Lynn and I had rehearsed the type of pleasant remarks that we'd make to get out of the soiree after fifteen or twenty minutes, but without even realizing it, the hours sped by.

Champagne was handed around and Jim, one group leader, initiated a countdown based on his wristwatch, with all due apologies for the inaccuracy. That inaccuracy was made apparent a minute or so after we all clinked glasses and drank to the new year and each other (even sang "Auld Lang Syne" at the prodding of one hearty soul), only to have the fireworks begin then. Oops.

And for a brief time we all peeped out the window and oo'ed and ah'ed over what little we could see of the Trafalgar Square fireworks, until someone noticed that we could see them much better on television. It rankled a little to have to trade reality for video, but they were right of course. It was quite an impressive show, and I never would've seen that part.

I also never would've known that everyone kept two minutes of silence at 11:55 in recognition of the tsunami disaster. I didn't know that until I read it in this Drudge Report story.

How strange it is to be where there's so much going on, and still rely on the entertainment and communication crutches to experience it more fully. Well, that's the way it is I suppose.

Well, time to scoot. Our internet time is almost up, so I'll go do some Real Life things and see if I can find another window of time later on.


Blogger Kelvin said...

One thing I can say... FUNNY! A funny experience...

January 2, 2005 at 5:35 AM  
Blogger Peakah said...

Looking forward to an exciting new year with all my new friends in the ole Blog'o'sphere...


January 2, 2005 at 3:00 PM  

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