gra-dult-hood n.

1. A stage in life between graduation and adulthood.
2. Gradulthood often involves jobs that don't fulfil a graduate's expectations.
3. A term coined during the recession.

5 Things: London

Sitting on the train back down to London seems like as good a time as any to reflect on my first two weeks in the capital. My fleeting visit to Nottingham was enjoyable, a birthday night out of sorts culminated in a late night visit to a casino. This was my maiden trip to a British casino and after the excitement of Las Vegas; it left a lot to be desired. The layout was the same; blackjack was an enthralling temptress as ever, but the dealers just didn’t have the same time honed pizzazz as their Sin City counterparts. Maybe it was because it was 2 AM and their clientele saw a four pound bet as high rolling, but my two dealers went about their business with the same enthusiasm as a Lidl checkout girl staring down the barrel of a six hour shift. Dismissively tossing cards across the table and greeting queries with a curt response and a dismissive rolling of the eyes. Admittedly, it must be a tough job but where’s the showmanship? Where’s the camaraderie?

Anyway, no one ever learnt anything in a casino post 2 AM. Luckily for this article, I’ve learnt five things about London.

Drinking isn’t much more expensive. In pubs anyway. Mention the price of a pint in London and out-of-towners will fall ashen faced, each one with their own horror story of abhorrent pricing. Consequently I’ve been on ‘pint price watch’ ever since. And you know what, it’s not too bad. Three pound something every time. I once went drinking in Switzerland and needed another drink to recover from the cost of the first. New York is expensive, but London? Manageable. Or maybe I’m just going to dives.

Travelling is like a second job. It’s inescapable. Do you wanna watch the match round mine tonight? / Yeah I’ll just walk to the tube, stay on for five stops, change at Euston, sit there for twenty minutes, hop on the 196 and then stroll on up. Such a time consuming journey would be unthinkable in any other city.

The transport system is a labyrinth only mastered by experience. Tubes are easy, the map is a triumph of efficiency and once inside you are herded to the correct platform by a glut of signs. Bus timetables have never been this efficient. You wouldn’t see someone in Covent Garden flogging a canvas bag with a bus timetable printed on the side. Therefore I’m reliant on the tube to get around when I know full well somewhere above my head a bus is already at my destination. And I wouldn’t be standing up sharing body heat with a complete stranger.

The end of a night out can be tricky. Not knowing bus timetables in the day can be annoying, not knowing them at night can be much more damaging. My knowledge of night buses is limited to one of the Harry Potter films. With the tube long since asleep and taxi’s coming with price tags Mancini would baulk at, the night bus is a necessity. In these first London months each night out must be preceded by some solid research. The days of wandering home are over.

Street Drinking. After bumping into an old Topshop colleague at the gargantuan Oxford Circus store I was told he and some of the staff were heading out for some drinks after work. Where would such a cosmopolitan group of trend setters spend their Friday evening? In a doorway, on the street. Ah. Apparently this doorstep had been the watering hole of Topshop employees for years, passed down from one generation to the next. The adjacent pub didn’t seem to have a problem with the fact the people supping their ale were far outnumbered by those drinking cans and apparently street drinking is now fairly common in the capital. Impressed by the ingenuity and enchanted by the thriftiness of it all, I grabbed a can and joined in. Gradulthood at its finest.

No comments:

Post a Comment