London – that most magnificent and popular of cities. Offering culture, shopping, entertainment, not to mention the perfect working venue for hosting an international conference or meet-up.
It was, in fact, for work-related purposes that I found myself venturing for a very brief two-night trip to the capital of the UK. I really enjoy going to London. Strolling around the British Museum with a Starbucks Mochaccino in hand, watching a matinee at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Piccadilly Circus, eating Chinese take-out while strolling around the markets of Camden Town, is for me, pure bliss.
This, however, was not a holiday, so I was prepared for it to be quick and boring. Boy, was I wrong!
Another reason why I love London is its globalised identity as a city. The vibrant life embedded in each individual who walks its streets, the diversity of the people, and their uniqueness. One can find people from all walks of life, interact with them, and in that way, learn something new. Having said that, apart from learning, certain types of people really DO also generate an inordinate comical vein of amusement.
Let me give you some examples of people I met during this short trip, and why they were so memorable.
The wacko – She was sitting next to me while I was waiting for my flight at the gate, I was engrossed in my mobile and suddenly she started talking. She said that she was emigrating to the UK for good, leaving this ‘backward country forever.’ However, that she did not know where she was going to stay when she arrived, had no idea what to do for a living and hated men (I’m not sure what this last one had to do with the conversation). She continued by haranguing man-kind in general, talking about a friend of hers who was a high class prostitute and whose boyfriend left her because he had a problem with her job… I mean… what a weird guy right? He also had issues against his girlfriend having STDs… imagine that! The wacko continued on saying that there was no problem at all with someone having an STD, because they can be cured, and if turned out to be fatal … well, so what? We all have to die sometime don’t we? Needless to be said, I was really happy when the Gate was opened.
The chauvinistic whiner – This guy was the bus shuttle driver who took me to my hotel from the airport. That’s approximately one hour of travelling. Yes – one hour of my life I will never get back. During the whole trip, this guy whom I had never met and knew nothing about, proceeded to tell me his love story with his ex-wife, who left him when after the birth of their two children, he demanded that she leave her career as a Head Nurse in order to stay at home as ‘all mothers should’. He said that any woman in the world would have been happy to have obeyed her husband in this case, but she was confused poor thing, and left him to go live with her mother, instead. It was sooooo hard to remain polite and not say anything about this one. After all, it was not my business (although the guy himself did not seem to think so).
The girl with the vibrators – Even though this was a business trip, I arrived in London half a day early so still had the time to do some shopping. While in a particular clothes shop, there was a section specialising in adult toys with a salesgirl in attendance. I swear I was just passing through, but the girl grabbed me and would not stop showing me her wares. Very matter-of-factly, she displayed the various shapes and sizes, explaining the rotation of each tool and telling me what was most popular and with whom. She was so natural about it that I actually admired her, I’m sure that if I had been in her place, I’d have been blushing to the roots of my hair.
The Muslim Casanova – This guy went on and on about how much he appreciated beautiful women who spent time and effort grooming themselves and choosing clothes to be attractive just for men (again it was SUCH AN ENORMOUS EFFORT to keep on my polite face here). Women after all, were there to be admired. He loved his wife, but, I was told, I was not to worry, he was Muslim so he could have three more (insert – suggestive look). At this point, he shifted to lecturing me on the Koran and said he hoped I converted one day. Moving on…
The Phlegmatic Old Man with the Young Asian Wife – He was sitting next to me on my flight back to Malta, and I admit, it was the worst flight I’ve been on in all my life. First, he was afraid of take-off. His wife tried to re-assure him but he got explosive hiccups, which he vented in my direction. After a while, the hiccups became spasms, and after that, big gurgly wet coughs. You might think this was not such a big deal, after all he was old, right? Sure, for five minutes it’s not a big deal, for three hours straight it is, especially when his saliva and other liquids started spraying on my arm, my face, and my tablet. In the middle of the flight, his younger wife took off her shoes, put her feet on his crotch, and started to fondle him under the open plastic table attached to the front seat. Yes, I’m serious!! They kept this up for twenty minutes, until she put her shoes back on and he needed to get up to go to the toilet. I don’t need to tell you what I thought at this point, do I? Anyways, he got up very slowly, I moved out of the way, and he took his two canes from the overhead compartment and made his way, again slowly, to the loo. When he came back, he had stopped coughing, there was still one hour of the flight to go, and his wife’s feet found his way to his lap again…
I could go on and on about so many other people I met throughout this trip, not to mention others whom I met during other longer trips too, but I think I had better stop here for now.
Do you have any unforgettable experiences about ‘unique’ individuals you met during your travels? Were these funny or creepy?