Saturday, 15 December 2007
Good Morning, Buenos Dias, Bonjour...
Advice For Foreigners visiting lovely, lovely London
1 - By all means, visit the British Library, possibly the quietest place in all of London. But do not, and I cannot stress this enough, (well, maybe I can) DO NOT (there, I did it) sneak in any pens, biros or any kind of ink into the Reading Rooms. And, no. Squids are not allowed either. I know. I was once caught drawing smiley faces and writing "10 out of 10" all over D.H. Lawrence's manuscripts, and it did not go down very well with most members of staff, except for this German man in a corner who kept giggling all the way through. Although, in retrospective, I think he probably was a hobo looking for shelter from the rain. Ah, lovely, lovely London.
Apparently, they did not mind my doodles (which they constantly referred to as "art" and, thus, found to be protected under Freedom of Speech laws), but they were certainly not happy about my grading system, which the found to be impartial and unfair.
In the words of a man of wisdom that goes by the name of Etienne, "that place is more fortified than Fort Knox, [and one should] study hard and avoid eye contact and not pull any faces at the librarians. Otherwise," he continues, "they will hurt you." As a very articulate post-modern poet once said, in the British Library "oxygen, graphite and literature are your only tools, they equip you well."
2 - Always wash your hands when visiting the loo. Ideally, wash your hands before AND after either urinating, defecating, or -in certain scenarios- doing both a number one and a number two.
Now, be very careful when washing your hands. I know that England is -technically, at least- a First World country [or Developed, if you are into being politically correct; I am not], but people here are yet to discover the benefits of having one tap instead of two. See, with one tap, any individual employing said faucet can regulate the water's temperature and -thus, if common sense is as common as it claims to be- adjust it until it becomes reasonably lukewarm. The United Kingdom, however, is world famous for having two separate valves: hypothermic and scorching. Hence, you either lose your fingers to frostbite or suffer third-degree burns from the scalding heat of the water. Either way, it will hurt. Trust me. Lovely, lovely burns.
Be warned! Again.
3 - Remember to say thank you and sorry and excuse me and please and do you mind and could I and if you say so and how lovely, even if you do not mean it. Just say it. It is a long standing tradition in England to be polite, even if -or perhaps, particularly when- you are about to fuck someone over. It is one of the most striking features of the English identity. Sound polite, it will make it easier to dig the knife in. Lovely, lovely Londoners...
Be warned! Yet again.