Uptown Girl Abroad
Some weeks, it's easy to write a column.
Other weeks, like when you've spent the past six days experiencing first-hand the grim realities of the NHS, you've been guzzling strong prescription medications non-stop, and you've just realised your column is due in 40 minutes . . . Well, let's just say those times are less easy.
(You're also more likely to be distracted by Build Me Up Buttercup on Spotify, debates about the inconsistencies within Britain's immigration policy, and the progress of this week's Family Roast Dinner. Smells delish, FYI. Also, my world is a much better place now that yorkshire puddings are in it. Highly recommend.)
But, if you're a look-for-the-silver- linings kind of gal like I am (ahem), those painkillers mean that, at a time you would normally be experiencing heart palpitations, you're chilled as.
Anyway, as I was saying, I have learned that the horror stories about England's national healthcare system aren't urban legends; I partook in the hospitality of one of London's hospitals and, despite the efforts of the most apathetic nurses I've ever come across, lived to tell the tale.
As tends to happen when you start drinking during the afternoon, conversation with friends - some of them expats, others not - veered towards the philosophical the other night.
Mr C couldn't understand why Ms J considered herself a Kiwi-Scottish-Irish- English hybrid: not when she was a fourth-generation Southlander.
He was, he said, an Englishman - even if there was a smattering of Belgian and French somewhere along the branches of his family tree.
The black-clad folk on the barstools (it was game day, after all) concluded that, given our own country's comparably fresh history, we're more likely to identify with a variety of nationalities.
Even if we've never set foot in the places we feel akin to.
You just don't really talk to randoms in London.
At least not willingly.
I'd guesstimate that, at least 43 per cent of the time, if you are talking to a stranger in London you are frightened.
I don't mean to slag off my (still kind of sort of mainly) new city - nutters are everywhere, even Southland - but it feels as if the bigger the city, the less voluntary eye contact.
Involuntary eye contact, on the other hand . . .
London houses a myriad of special spots the unwitting walk - briskly, mind - past regularly.
There's the veritable oasis of waterside bars in Barbican.
Cash machines that distribute pounds in Cockney.
The best brunch ever in Stoke Newington, for a fiver.
An entirely random and seemingly out-of-place artist's collective in posh, leafy Chiswick.
If there's a task more dreaded in London than finding a flat, I'm yet to discover it.
Our lease was almost up, and Mark and I agreed to say sayonara to Southfields. We even bandied about the prospect of finding a place beyond the borders of the tried-and-true Kiwi stomping grounds in the southwest.
Living with continental flatmates would surely be rewarding, if not for cultural enlightenment but the number of familial abodes dotted throughout the northern hemisphere.
Was a Portuguese flatmate really too much to ask for?
Besides that, our requirements were short and sweet: 1. Non- sociopathic flatmates; 2. An absence of urine odour; 3. General non-stabbiness. 4. Not on the District Line.
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