I feel a little negligent, it’s been kind of hard to sit down and put all that has been happening strictly into perspective. It’s fine to start saying so and so is such and such, but in reality, I don’t think a week a two, three days is enough to form enough of a convincing opinion.
I have some impressions, but not opinions yet. It’s been seriously different, yet curiously similar and that in and of itself has been experience.
Culture shock? What culture shock? People are the same where ever you go and London is no different. To me, it’s like Trinidad, just on a larger scale and better transport. Commerce is commerce where ever you go, snooty, bitchy motherfuckers are the same everywhere. That said, I’ve met some sweet and marvellous people just in the last week and a half.
No matter how far away from what you’re used to, it’s amazing how you find that sameness in everything from tedium getting to and fro and in everyone including store clerks and transit workers.
London is it seems simply about access; access to things in a way that simply doesn’t exist where I come from.
One thing is the same: the fucking heat. London is hot as shite! Fuhget what my brother warned me about, “English summers are cold.” I’ve been sweating like a pig since I got here. It’s hot on the Tube, it’s hot all over the city. The first few days I lugged my denim jacket around to guard against the cold, but it was just a nuisance and I have simply not needed it.
I’ve been so hot in fact that I’ve been feeling dehydrated and now much gulp down as much water as I can force myself to take because I’ve had a bit of a chapped lips condition. I didn’t even realise it was dehydration until I realised my throat was closing down and drying out and I was fighting this sore lump in it.
I am also now regretting giving away all of my clothes, I really miss my yellow sundress, my black and tiny white polka dot arm-less ‘miracle dress’, (it never needed pressing, made me look slim and could be worn to almost ANY event.) When I was packing to come up, I only kept the warmest things and got rid of everything else. Now I have nothing cool enough for summer and well, the sun ’bout here jess ain’t playing, oui?
So, I’ve found myself combing sales (and there are so many to choose from almost every store has gone sale mad!) Oxford St. is like zoo! It’s not just that people are and can be very rude, they really are like wild things. They paw through all the clothes, drop things on the floor (and leave them) and snatch, grab, slobber and salivate in dribbling drools over what might have been a very beautiful skirt if it hadn’t been so bloody roughed up.
I have managed to get a few really nice pieces; t wo wonderful vertically striped pants that fit me well and two smart work-type blouses. I also have not been able to resist the insane colour pink lunacy that seems to have gripped every manufacturer of women’s clothing and shoes that supply the city of London.
Now, ya girl has never been a big pink chick. I have, I am pleased to report, abandoned pink-dom with my pre-pubescent youth and have almost never returned. When I have, it has always been in seriously muted pinks or very deep rose shades, that look good. I am a red girl, a yellow girl, a purple girl, a blue girl or a green girl even. I have never been accused of excessive ‘pink-ness’.
In the last week, I’ve seen so many different shades of it in every possible configuration of pants, trousers, tops, skirts, socks, lipstick shades and shoes…. lawd oi! the shoes! Boots, slippers, sandals, hideous bubblegum pink confections with hideous and massive plastic bows on the top. My God! What is it with these plastic flowers at the toe?
It’s a pink explosion.
There is little choice.
Resistance is futile.
So I have given in. I have bought at least two little arm hole tanks (£3 each), a lovely pink skirt we can forgive because it’s got yellow tastefully included and will look good with my own pair of femmie femme low heel wedges; a cotton candy-looking top with, get this, thin pink ribbon threaded through the neck, and a cute pair of pink slippers with thankfully a thick tan coloured rubber sole. Needless to say, as if in punishment for this betrayal, the slipper cut my right foot nastily in retribution.
I blame the change in country, climate and disposition to this current slide into a decadent life of pink. I am resigned to pink, at least until the end of the summer. Hopefully this madness will pass, and I resort to more normal and conservative earth tones.
:laughing: It’s not that bad, I just hope to abandon pinkness soon. It’s just to counter-revolutionary, y’know?
Except, between my recent family dramas (of which I don’t think I’m ready to speak), the whole leaving life, family and my sweet man behind, I am also a little ashamed to report I am smoking cigarettes again. At least it’s not obsessive smoking, at least not yet.
The whole ‘job interview’ thing was dramas on Tuesday.
First, the day started shitely… I mean seriously.
When I woke up, no, from the time I came home on Monday I knew something was wrong. Two of my flatmates had disappeared into their bedroom not to be seen again until the morning.
Come morning it’s to discover that they broke up and M was heading back to Italy. I spent most of the morning nursing his broken heart, wiping his tears and listening to his reasons for leaving T without being either judgemental or critical.
Then, as previously reported, it was off to Woolwich to use the cybercafe, then back to the flat to get ready for the interview. Then as I was starting to get ready to leave–I had to get a bus and two trains to get down to Tolworth, where the agency that trains and guarantees jobs for people interested in IT work.
The man I spoke to over the phone was very pleasant, and originally told me he thought I was too qualified, but I held on and convinced him to see me anyway. He was impressed with that.
Anyway, ya girl was not staying home, no matter how much rain was coming down. I put on the cute black boots my mother bought me before I left Barbados, my killer black pants and a smart new red shirt I got for £7, pushed up my brand new Winnie-the-Pooh umbrella and walked through the rain.
The bus took a while to come and before I could set off, a truck managed to splash the contents of a puddle over my lower half. I cussed his ass, futilely of course, but I pushed on. I got to North Greenwich station and took the Jubilee line, but by God the Tube was sweltering and I was melting under my professional black jacket.
By the time I got to Waterloo Station, it was to realise I’d missed the last train to Chessington South by about five minutes. I bought my ticket for the next one and stood up waiting for the announcement of the next train. I stood there for a good ten minutes, but when the notice of the train’s arrival came, there was no gate info.
I stood there another five minutes, now dangerously close to not making this interview, when to my horror, the train came up as delayed. I called the man I was interviewing with and left a message telling him about the situation. I stood there, nervously shifting from foot to foot, when to my horror the announcement came: No one was leaving Waterloo by rail, the trains were all cancelled!
See ya girl: My first English interview was going completely to pot.
I called back the man and explained the situation, again on his voicemail. I asked if it wasn’t too much trouble, could we reschedule. I called monilove23 and told her about the disappointing turn of events. For whatever reason, I lingered around Waterloo, and while indulging my book lust, the man called me back and thankfully rescheduled.
There was nothing left to do but get back on the Tube and head back home.
I saw M and W (oh gud, I have to tell allyuh about W, but not just yet) on the way out, in the process of leaving, forever as it is.
I got home, took a bath and fell asleep.
When monilove23 got home, I told her what she didn’t know, that M had left and wasn’t coming back. We discussed strategy, because she said she knew that this was going to shatter T.
Shatter? Me, W and monilove23, sat and waited for T to get home. She bust in the house, screaming! She threw her bad and two bottles of wine across her bedroom, cursing M at the top of her lungs. W just sat there, rooted, terrified, all three of us shaking. T really let her anger come out! I didn’t blame her, but you know, she’s such a quiet girl, it was quite stunning.
She came and hung out with us later, but you know, you could tell she was still pissed off. We talked about it for a while, all three of us sharing wisdom and we sat up and smoked and in the end, the three of us cracked jokes and told stories to distract T from her distress. It worked.
It was at least, a great end to a basically quite shitty day.
Wednesday, I took off on a little jaunt and ended up on Liverpool St. I told myself I was going to Petticoat Lane Market, except there’s no market in the middle of the week, so I got on a bus and drove from East London to West London.
My first actual proper look at a chunk of the city at once. What’s most interesting to me, from a personal perspective, is that I have found my sense of direction quite quickly. I can tell when I am heading East and when I’m heading West. Second, this town seems overwhelmed with brands. There are like seven or eight brand name stores, and they repeat with frightening regularity. There’s a Starbucks shop, a Costas coffee shop, a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Marks & Spencer’s, a Sainsbury’s Simply Food, and what not, every few blocks. It’s quite stunning. Disturbing.
However, there are as many small little unique shops as well. I passed one in particular that specialises in umbrellas. Through the upper deck of the bus and through the store front glass, just about every kind of umbrella you can imagine in such a narrow space. I gaped at many trendy little boutiques as well, some that proclaimed from their signs, ‘Established 1904’, ‘Established 1865’ and such. Places I am sure are much too exclusive for the likes of me.
Well, one repetitive brand name I don’t mind seeing is Subway. That’s above and by far my favourite kind of food and if I could eat only Subway, I think I would be quite all right with it.
Got to New Oxford St, and pushed across to Tottenham Court Road, and onto Oxford St. I had in my mind to buy the aforementioned pink slippers, and roamed around upper Oxford St., found the pair I liked, and a price I could afford (£10), then called monilove23, asked her if I could buy her the lunch I promised her last week. I suggested Nandos, so we toodled down to Soho to do the deed.
I left her on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford, and popped down into the Tube and made my way home.
Thursday was interview day, and this time things went much better.
First, before I left, I took a marvellous bath with some essential oils in it and prayed about it as well. I dressed in mostly white to go this time, and put back on my nice black boots.
There was no rain.
Got to Waterloo without incident, bought my ticket and stood waiting for the gate info.
I bought a pack of cigarettes and a Sprite (it just doesn’t taste the same as Caribbean Sprite; what’s that about?) and stood under the boards smoking and waiting. Some middle-aged dude felt it was neccessary to tell me that there was no smoking in the Station. I looked down at discarded buts all over the marbled station floor, looked over my shoulder and said, “Beat me nah?”
Then I tossed a nasty, “What the fuck are you interfering with me for?” before stalking off to the now declared gate three.
I got onto the train, and double checked with this short, round little, white-haired woman if this was indeed the correct train. She confirmed it and I sat down.
Somehow she and I got into a conversation and we chatted all the way down to Tolworth. Turns out she used to work with the Ministry of Development, and spent quite a lot of time living and working in Barbados. So of course we were fast friends by the time to got off the train in Tolworth.
Then it was off to my interview. The rain was falling in Tolworth, so the Pooh umbrella went up. I found the building easily, and as I was going up in the elevator, a nice looking Black man and I figured out which office we were going to.
So I got the five cent free tour. Turns out, they do train you for IT work, except you have to pay for part of programme. It’s expensive. I mean, thousands of pounds expensive., they subsidise the rest of it. Since I know how much the training and the exams actually cost, I know it is a savings. What’s more, they are very selective about who they let into the programme. The classes are just eight to ten people big, and there are only two training rooms. That’s about twenty people a cycle and from what I understand, they have hundreds of applicants to the programme.
If can finish the courses, they can guarantee me work, and I am not compelled to take their jobs, I can take any job I get that will pay me what I want and can get. Finishing the entire programme, will actually put me in the £40, 000 to £50, 000 per annum salary bracket. In England, that’s a shit load of money, but it’s not the money.
First off, this is a programme I really wanted to do. They’re training you in CIW certification and it’s an internationally recognised standard. I’ve been wanting to do it for about two years, and began my iNet and CIW Site Designer so I’m already ahead, and having eight years of experience in wed development is a big plus both in my favour and theirs. Their set up is also very organised and very slick, I must tell you. Their operation is in a swank building and their offices are quite plush. So at least, they are making their agency fees. They are also quite upfront, part of the training is subsidised by private organisations.
One reason I came to England, was because I was aware of the severe shortage in IT workers in the the UK job market. Right now, Britain is importing a lot of workers from India on one and two year contracts trying to fill the demand, and obviously engaging in these types of training and work programmes.
The only thing, even if the select me, without someone lending me or gifting me the money, I won’t be able to participate. Already I know I was hoping to work and save the money to pay for these types of certifications in any case, I don’t know if I’ll be able to raise that kind of money in one go like that.
So for now, I’m preparing to hit the agencies next week. Even if they pick me, I’ll still have to get a job in the interim.
Here’s another little bit of news. I met a man on the train. Well, I actually met him in the elevator going up to the interview, but on the train coming back, we sat and talked right through. He’s firstly of Nigerian origin, but left there 15 years ago and took up residence in Holland.
He gave me a lot of good advice about how to approach the job hunt, and well he was very cute, you know. My kind of cute. Not nearly dark enough for me, but well cute enough and intelligent to be sure.
He bought me a cup of coffee and we kept talking. We exchanged numbers, and he said he’d dig out some newspaper with a whole set of agency listings, so if I get that, at least I’ll have some kind of starting point.
He lives in SE6, I’m in SE7, so we got the Tube back as far as Canary Wharf and just kept right on talking. He asked me out, I was kind of non-commital.
So here’s the thing: Last night I called YMK.
He said, “I was thinking about you all day. I was hoping you’d call me today.”
“I nearly forgot too,” I said. “I was just about to fall asleep, but I jumped up remembering.”
“I miss you, baby,” I could hear it in his voice.
“This just isn’t how I thought this was going to be, baby,” I said. “I thought I was coming here and I would have the time to sort out how I feel about you and me, and you know, I didn’t bargain for all of this. I didn’t plan it at all, but this is so much harder than I thought it would be.”
“I sat on the beach today, watching the sea and the sand. I was thinking, ‘Look how beautiful this is,’ but at the same time I wasn’t really enjoying it, because you’re not here to see it with me. I kept thinking, you would love this, nature and the ocean and the sand and everything.”
He expressed how I feel, in one. The weirdest thing about being in London right now is that more than ever, I wish he was here sharing this adventure with me. I miss our long conversations, and well my poonkie misses her playmate, and well, not matter how interesting and exicting all this is, there’s a hole in me where he is very definitely in absence.
“That’s exactly how I feel, you know?” I know he knows.
“It’s like, I’m moving around and experiencing the city and the buses and everything and I think about you all the time. That you would find that funny, or that we’d be off digging around learning the buses and everything together. I see couples kising and hugging on the Tube, and I miss you even more.”
“Baby, just let me get some tires on my Mini and I’m going to move it by B, and work out my scene with M and get my ticket and I’m coming,” he said.
“But I want to be honest with you,” he continued, “I can;t promise I’m going to stay in England forever. I’ll give it two, maybe three years. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but there are things I want to do in Trinidad, projects I want to work on.”
“Well I could understand that. I don’t even know if I’m going to stay here more than a few years myself,” I replied.
“Don’t get me wrong, I may get up there, like it and start making money and well, I’ll stay and make it, but you know, I want you to know from in front what I want to do.”
I thought about what he said, then replied, “We can talk about all that when you get here. I just want you here with me.”
“I’ve realised that all along I’ve been running and ducking from something, but with you I realise I’ve been fighting forces I can’t fight anymore,” he said.
My heart clenched in my chest and I could feel a lump in my throat.
We were silent for about thirty seconds–a long time on a long distance call–then there was more of “I miss you…”
I am so confused and a little bit frustrated. Part of the smoking is sexual frustration as well, because it’s been now more than a month since I’ve had any and well, I can’t say when I’m going to get it again.
This brings me all the way back to the man on the train. First off, I think he’s nice, but even as we sat there talking, I kept thinking how he wasn’t YMK and even after he began flirting with me subtly, you know, he didn’t have that swagger and tilt that YMK had, he was very different.
On the way home in the bus, my thoughts were filled–memories, wishes, hopes, fears but YMK was at the root of them. Even if I do date other guys while I am here, I don’t know if I could actually have sex with any of them and I certainly don’t know if I’m capable of another relationship.
All I want is him… my bad boy from San Juan. No amount of adventure or pick ups from nice fellows is going to change that, will it? My heart is telling me this, that we are moving towards some critical mass YMK and I, and everything else is just distraction, something to do to occupy the time.
I’m thinking I’ll see whomever I like, but I’ll keep these relationships strictly platonic, because while it’s nice to see what colour the grass is on the other side of the fence, I am just too enamoured of my own garden at the moment.
All I want is him… he’s the one I want, the one I can’t get out of my head.
W is coming for me in a few minutes to take me to his school so I can post this to my blog and invoice a client so my mother can get some money.
I’m worried about her. I know she told me not to worry, but I cannot help it. I am worried about her.
I like London. I like it fine so far, never mind the man I cussed in the train station. I am however, worrying about money still and desperately hoping I get some kind of work before the end of August. As it is, I’m living very close to the bone. There is no iPod in my immediate future, I’m just gritting my teeth. Part of the smoking is about that as well: Money.
I off to bathe.
Pray for me. Pray for me to get some work soon; work that’s not in journalism. I just had enough of that to be honest. I am accepting donations if anyone cares to be generous.