My salad dressing days

Darwinian toast
September 22, 2005, 9:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s official. I can no longer cut it in The Big City. I’ve lost my edge. I’m Darwinian toast.

I decided to venture Up West this (chicklet-free) afternoon. Usually, when asked what I would like to do with a free hour or three, I reply: Oh, y’know, sit around in a cafe looking wistful. But no, today, I was determined to forage for some Culture.

Mr Chick dropped me off at an underground station and I made for the ticket hall. Panic set in when I was confronted by the ticket machines. Granted, these days, only an MSc in Information Technology (as opposed to a PhD) is required to make the appropriate purchase, but fearing a lack of the correct coinage, I opted for the human cashier (aka The Tourist Option).

I then wandered towards the escalator, when I heard a train approaching. It was then that I was overcome by a not unfamiliar primal urge:

Train coming. Must run for train. Man in front running. Must do the same. No matter that – to coin a well-known Louis Armstrong song – I have all the time in the world. Must. Run. For. Train.

So I hurtled down the escalator, rearranging my limbs at the bottom so as to enable a four-second-long nonchalant stroll towards the tube doors. Plonked backside on seat and began reading newspaper just as if this was Something I Do Every Day.

Emerging into daylight at my destination, I was instructed to ‘follow the orange lampposts’ and in so doing, endured a close shave with a Hackney cab driven by a hackneyed London cabbie, who I swear I saw mouthing ‘dizzy b*tch!’ to his paying passenger as I stared at him like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

Soon after this, I was almost ploughed down by a rickshaw. Bloody hell. A rickshaw? That would not look good in tomorrow’s Evening Standard (‘Mother of two critical after run-in with rickshaw’). Hmmm.

And so I arrived, quite miraculously, in one piece at the gallery. First things first: have a Nice Cup Of Tea (oh, and a slice of cherry and almond tart). It seems all my efforts over the past two years to get to grips with Eastern European accents have been wasted: today’s waiting staff are Spanish.



[pointing at crumbless plate] ‘You feeeneeeeesh your torrrrrrt?’

‘Oh yes. Thank you.’

And so to the exhibition. As I trundled down towards the ticket desk, I spotted a large red lorry up on the balcony surrounded by lots of plastic-covered pallets. I came close to enquiring of a member of staff whether this was a new exhibition being delivered. But I quickly checked myself. This was the Tate Modern after all and the lorry and the pallets might be the exhibition. Didn’t want to look like some hick from the ‘burbs.

Forty five minutes and numerous Frida Kahlo self-portraits later and I was standing on the balcony looking wistful (of course). Suddenly, overhead, two planes appeared to come within grazing distance of each other. Much sucking of teeth from my fellow gazers, or rather dentures in the case of the elderly Italian couple next to me. [Incidentally, one of the planes belonged to British Airways, so no doubt the pilot had rushed into the cabin to resolve a passenger revolt after someone complained that ‘(Gate) gourmet’ in-flight food should constitute more than a packet of pork scratchings and bottle of Appletiser.]

I began to consider my homeward-bound transportation options…

Oh, to sit on top of a double-decker bus! was my first thought. And so I wandered along the South Bank towards the bus stop. Plugged into Magic 105.4, I was suddenly overtaken by the most incredible force of will to break into a spontaneous song and dance routine to ‘My first, my last, my everything’ by Barry White. But looking around me at my fellow man (aka Jaded Commuter types), I thought the better of it.

There didn’t appear to be a queue at the bus stop and so I hung around on a nearby bench until the no.47 swung round the corner. Suddenly, from nowhere, several dozen people converged on the bus door. Being British and genetically programmed to adopt UN-established Principles of Fairness When Queuing, I held back to let the first twenty people (who I knew were ahead of me in the non-queue) onto the bus first. Lots of tutting and expletives from behind. My God, it was anarchy! Whatever happened to orderly queuing? I tell you: it’s frightening out there.

Finally seated (despite offering my seat to a pregnant woman – more incomprehending looks from my fellow passengers) and not a little sweaty, I called Mr Chick and uttered those immortal words: ‘I’m On The Bus!’

I think it’s best if I just stay home. Or move to Sevenoaks. One or the other.

Revelation of the day: According to Chicklet #2’s paediatrician, Mr Chick and I have large heads! (Well that figures, I hear you say.) Mr Chick, however, was disappointed to learn that a big head does not necessarily correlate with a high IQ. Me, I was just annoyed to have it confirmed why it is I find shopping for hats such a pain in the proverbial.


17 Comments so far
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So you didn’t have a Brands Hatch bus driver then – the sort who sweeps around the corners so fast that your face gets pushed against the window out of which you were casually looking, or who brakes just as you are standing before your stop so that you accelerate down the bus with hands grabbing vertical poles in quick succession like a monkey swooping through trees?

Comment by Mark

Shopping for hats! I know your pain – I have a huge head. They sell hats in different sizes elsewhere in Europe – why not here? This is probably another of those business ideas I’ll never do anything about.

Comment by GreatSheElephant

So what did you think of the Frida “What a tragic life” Kahlo exhibition, then?

Comment by Wyndham

this is all getting a bit highbrow for me. can we talk about shoes again please?

*turns to “my celebrity fat-arse hell” feature in heat magazine and wonders idly why people bang on about art so much anyway. considers asking whether that print of constable’s haywain at the local beefeater counts as it’s quite restful, then becomes distracted by sienna miller’s new boho waistcoat and forgets*

Comment by surly girl

I found that the Frida exhibition did not focus on tragedy. I found it uplifting and there were hardly any references to her own pain. Mostly the paintings were of the Mexican context or the political arena of the times or just of people including herself of course – as she said she knew herself best as she spent a lot of time on her own.
What did you think?

Comment by yclepta

Where DO the people hide until the bus arrives?
I wonder this every day, thinking I will have an entire bus to myself for the ride home until the bus (also, coincedentally, the 47) arrives, and suddenly 15 people rush on ahead of me. I have yet to get the hang of it and have been doing it for 18 months. My cat learns faster.

Comment by Whinger

I wish I could comment more substantively on art and exhibits, but I’m too busy laughing at the rickshaw comment.

Comment by Jonniker

My head is huge too. I never almost never wear hats.

Your post reminded something I heard once about Brits being obsessed with proper queueing. Too funny:-)

Comment by Kyahgirl

You are hilarious. You need to write a book. Seriously.

Comment by Meegan

Does anyone else, on seeing a Frida self-portrait, want to send her (posthumously, of course) some Veet or Jolen bleach?

Yes, I know I’m missing the point…

Today’s word verification: hagfuk. Let’s not even go there…

Comment by the plate invigilator

Being a Detrioter, I’m amazed at the very idea of mass transportation.
Here only the very poorest take the few and totally unschedueled busses.
Your way sounds way less mental than ours.
But do women really wear that many hats anyway?

Comment by Nigel Patel

Great post! When we were in London a few years back, I was amazed at how polite people were-and we landed there on the day of a tube strike. With luggage.
I know how you feel about being confronted with lots of people, machines, and feeling inhibited. Still, I think it’s good to get out. Keeps you younger:)

Comment by actonbell

I really miss all the museums and galleries of London. I went to a Frida Kahlo exhibition a few years ago and was surprised so much wall space was devoted to her hubbie Diego’s work.

Comment by Violet

This is the best review of the Frida Kahlo exhibition I’ve seen so far. Nice work, UC.

Comment by patroclus

I snickered at the limb rearranging and howled at other parts … one of your best, UC! zockso!

Comment by mireille

I’m like you, UC: I now call leaving my postcode “going into town”. It becomes a whole “expotition”. Hilarious post and so true.

Comment by Bela

I was a Cesarian baby, hence a big round pumpkin head. Buying even sock hats is a mini-nightmare.

Comment by elvira black

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