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Seek Assistance

March 15, 2013

There’s that moment when you wake up after a good night’s sleep and everything feels great. I had that this morning, just for a second, and then my aching left side reminded me of my fall and NY stress and then, of course, the loss of Rufus. Still a lovely day in London was had.

After a lie-in for me and a work call for Tif, we were off to meet Nic in the City for lunch. The City is the Wall St of London, the center of the banking industry. We popped onto the commuter rail, First Capitol Connect, oft referred to by exasperated commuters as First Crapitol and headed in. Tif teased by about my troubles with my borrowed ticket card. I told her of my adventure the day before when, after I tapped the card at the tube station, the gates didn’t open and a message came on the small screen saying “seek assistance.” While I figured that just meant I needed to add money to the card (Tif wasn’t sure what was on it when she handed it to me), I headed to the ticket booth operator rather than the machines.

“It told me to seek assistance” I informed the man behind the window. “It did?” he said with mock surprise, “Did it tell you anything else? The winning lottery numbers?” “Yes, I’m an America tourist, you twat, but I’m not stupid, just put some money on the fucking card.” I shot back. Not really though. I just smiled and said “here’s 20 pounds.”

Feeling a bit like a kid heading to see Daddy at the office, we made our way down Fleet Street and into the well-appointed lobby of Nicola’s office building where we waited for her in plush red tub chairs that swiveled all the way around. I spun a bit, as another guest looked at me without humor and Tiffany just rolled her eyes at yet another example of my embarrassing Americanism.

A wonderful, slightly boozy lunch later, Nic headed back to work and Tiffany and I crossed the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern Museum. I love a modern art museum. I love the spaces almost as much as the art on the walls, and the Tate is a great space – a former power plant on the Thames with sprawling views of the London skyline including the Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s and the London Eye. As we wandered through the humorous and surprising Roy Lichtenstein retrospective as well as the Lydia Bengalis and Cy Twomblys, we came across what may be the best example of head shaking art of all time. A mirror mounted on the wall. I was reminded of my father who joked that he couldn’t sit opposite a mirror at a restaurant as he’d just spend the whole meal looking at himself. We did as well. And we looked great!


Our need for culture satisfied we did a little light shopping and headed to a  bar to wait for Nicola to finish work. Champagne cocktails ordered, my apparent curse kicked in again. Before the fizzy elixir made it to our table sirens and red strobes started up, not just in the bar, but through the building we were in. Oh you’ve got to be kidding I thought, as we joined the crowds being evacuated. As we got the escalator we’d have to walk down, two elderly women stepped on in front of us. I’m sure under other circumstances I would have thought lovely things about them, but knowing the British tendency for random explosions in the City, I heavily weighed the karmic effects of knocking them down.

The sirens continued long enough for us to decided to walk around the block. We headed out to the front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where I again launched into Feed the Birds. It was a shockingly sad moment when I was informed that it wasn’t actually at St. Paul’s that the seed lady from Mary Poppins sang the song, rather it was the Bank of England.

My bubble burst, but my curse lifted, we were allowed back into the bar and the drinks and Nicola arrived shortly after.


We floated home through the wet British night on champagne bubbles, watched a bit of Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe on BBC (seriously watch it! He would never be allowed on American television, but he is funny and cutting, and quite brilliant in his analysis of the week’s events) and another day is done.

Tomorrow holds a big breakfast, some afternoon entertainment, and my much-anticipated trek reunion. And hopefully nothing of my curse!

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