Thursday, September 27, 2012

'I'm in london still'

– The Waifs' 'London Still'.

I'm not, of course. I'm in Norwich, over a year since I came home from our exchange trip, visiting all the friends I made last time. But my selective OCD will not permit me to start writing about this trip until I finish writing about the last one, and there's only this one last story to tell.

It's a short story. A microfiction, even. Partially because it only deals with the last few days we spent in London before flying out, and partially because I can't remember the details. But what're you gonna do?

So we arrived in London from Berlin with just enough time to do some souvenir shopping before our flights, staying in a dorm above a pub in Greenwich. We decided the best place to acquire said souvenirs would be the Camden markets, but it was still a challenge given our dire financial situation by this point. I think we managed to do okay (although I realised the other day that I still haven't given Mum the necklace I bought her!)

I think that was pretty much the only thing of note that happened in London. After that we just kinda went to the airport. Til was leaving first and I was supposed to be on a flight that evening, but instead I became a prisoner of the airport for THREE DAYS.

Dad worked for Qantas for years and years, so I was flying on his staff travel standby thing, and there were just no spaces on any Qantas planes going back to Australia. Every couple of hours I'd go back to the desk hoping they'd call my name out, but they didn't. At this point I was literally out of money, so I was living off the credit card that Mum and Ross got me for my birthday before I left. I couldn't even get anyone to send me money because I didn't have my debit card, so I wouldn't be able to access it. I couldn't use my phone, laptop or iPod because Til took the Australia–UK adaptor. Internet access cost ten pence per minute. I bought two books: Tina Fey's Bossypants, and Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight. The first night I fashioned a bed out of towels and jackets from my bag and slept on the floor. I have a very distinctive memory of laughing to myself at Fey's book at like 3am on the floor of the terminal. I felt like a homeless person because I hadn't showered and everywhere I went I had to take a massive trolley with my backpack on it, because you're not allowed to leave your luggage unattended. Then my credit card inexplicably stopped working. There was nothing to do but starve for the rest of the day and hope it would work the next day. Luckily it did. The second night I realised I could sleep on the lounges outside of Costa and had a much more comfortable sleep.

Also at some point a woman dressed absurdly, the jewel in the crown being her Wicked Witch of the West sock gumboots, stylishly set off by her medical gauze raincoat, came in and laid face down on the airport seats right next to me and started quietly laughing to herself.

 As you do.

Eventually I couldn't wait any longer for a Qantas flight home. I just had to buy a flight with a different carrier for about two thousand dollars, half of which Dad kindly paid for. This meant I got to go home the wrong way – via Toronto and Vancouver, which was cool. What was not cool was being in the middle seat of the middle section of the plane with big guys on either side of me. Impossible to sleep.

Anyway, I made it home to be greeted by Nan and Eddie at the airport, the journey finally over. I feel as though I should say something more conclusive and ceremonious, but it's been too long now, so eh.

Thanks for reading!

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