Small joys of London

I am a ranter. It is a well-acknowledged fact, evidenced both by my oeuvre of diatribes, and ability to talk about almost any topic at great length if provided with a willing conversational partner. Discussing last night the drunk-traits of my friend group, I chirped up (before anyone else could say it) “I talk more!” and was answered, “yes, and you talk a lot already.”

Somehow, a bunch of you still read every blog, and even to the end (thanks guys!), but to give y’all a break, and challenge myself a little, I’m gonna mix it up a bit. Don’t worry, the diatribe will never die, but I’m gonna try out some short pieces, or breaking up longer pieces, and we’ll see how it goes!

To take it away, here is a quickie on a few small joys I find in London.

Foxes and Squirrels
The internet seems really confused about whether these furry friends are considered pests, but unlike the NZ equivalent – evil, scary, hissing Possums – foxes and squirrels are cute and funny and I WANT ONE! Although their lives are much-shortened by living on McDonalds instead of berries (McDs is bad for all of us – who knew?), foxes seem to carve out a living from garbage, and find just enough hideyholes in the green spaces around the burbs, including the cemetery near my house, where I see them skittering to at night. The Squirrels are much braver (and tourist-savvy), leaping up the walls like a ninja and stopping at the top to stare at me in triumph, or eating out of hand from track-suited Yanks in the Royal Parks. Having these pastoral creatures in the city makes me feel like I’m glimpsing ‘The Country’ of yesteryear, but there’s no mistaking it – these are very 21st Century woodland creatures:

Just casually…

Service that defies expectations
It shouldn’t be news by now that customer service in London is APPALLING. But, while this is generally true, it’s not exclusively so, and this means that even just nice, plain, decent pleasantness stands out a country mile. So when the dude at the local supermarket looks me in the eye, says polite things, and (for reasons unknown to me) talks to me about the football, it really, truly brightens my day.

A murder of crows
This may seem a strange positive, but the crows here are HUUUUUGE. They are also beaky and beady-eyed, and clearly plotting things. No wonder their collective noun is ‘a murder’. When I see them stalking about (crows don’t ‘fly’ or ‘flit’, they ‘stalk’ and ‘plot’), I can’t help but picture the final scenes of The Birds. These oversized menacers give me the same thrill of excitement and burst of inappropriate giggles as a ridiculous downpour or OTT thunderstorm. Delightful!

Unexpected variety
The UK definitely lacks the ‘cafe culture’ of NZ, where you can’t get a burger before 10am, but you can get an eggs bene at 7pm if you choose. But, where access might be a problem, variety is certainly not! Yesterday I had an ‘Old Bombay’ brunch at Dishoom, and with local prices even in the rather swish Covent Garden restaurant, my Egg Naan Roll and Chocolate Chai were a steal, delicious, and a new experience in one.

Really enormous coffees
Sometimes it’s a bit ridiculous what counts for a coffee over here, but even funnier when you’re handed a bucket for a vessel. That’s a soup, not a drink, surely! I think perhaps the coffee culture here was inherited from the yanks, and therefore along with it the Starbucks style of bigger is better and more complicated is cooler. While I do miss the simplicity of ordering a ‘tall, trim flat white, please’ and knowing what I was getting, hungover Shapelle appreciates the option of a caffeine-injection the size of my face.

Okay, even a short piece is 600-something words – this is going to take practice, I can see!


6 thoughts on “Small joys of London

  1. runawaykiwi

    I don’t know if I can cope with this new style…I am going to go and quietly rock in a corner for a while (although that may be the bucket of coffee talking).

    1. shapelle Post author

      Haha well it’s partly your fault y’know! I think I will need to make a new ‘short and sweet’ category, so people who don’t want to read 2000 word diatribes can go and read the (3) posts that will keep to reasonable limits.

  2. jo mckenzie

    I like the variety of long and short, but at heart I do love the 2000 word diatribe you write so well. I myself have never been one to be brief about anything! However, as with coffee, busy tired people will appreciate a short black, while others will sip away on the tall flat white. I like!

  3. shmennikins

    I also prefer the longer ones (TWSS) but also OMG FOX ON AN ESCALATOR!!! That picture has made me day. Seriously.

    1. shapelle Post author

      I had to google TWSS. Despite the fact that I say that ALL the time, as you know. Clearly, I am getting old, as also exemplified by my total unenjoyment of bars where I have to line up for 30 mins to get a watered down drink to enjoy over not-able-to-talk music mash ups of Screaming Goats crossed with R2D2. I may have gone off-topic here. But thank you dear, the consensus has actually been ‘rant away’, which is nice, as that’s how I roll, and I enjoy a long walk on the beach more than a short sprint, coz ppl who run in sand are just weird. It hurts. Seriously.


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