coots and heat (2004-05-19 - 8:13 p.m.)
First and most importantly: coots! From Peter (who I would have just asked in the first place, if I'd been thinking):
The little water birds were coots, Anne. They abound in
Norfolk, and although we have more (similar) moorhens than
coots on this river, they turn up here occasionally. Peter.
Coots... what a great name for such a ridiculous bird. They're my new favorite. Perhaps I should change my email address to "cootling@..."
So how's the weather? Here it is ridiculous. I'm dying from the heat. I don't think it's that it's really so hot... it's the combination of that and the humidity (bit of a change for this Prairie girl!) and the fact that the flat doesn't have air conditioning. Also, I think it's partly just being in the city. The heat reflects off the concrete and everywhere is full of crowded, sticky people. The bus today was unbelieveable. I was literally standing with my feet between someone else's, that's how crowded it was... and it felt like hanging out in a greenhouse that lurched around a lot. Believe me, I really didn't want to be that close to someone I haven't even been introduced to!
However, the sun's gone down and my energy is consequently back. And there is one huge blessing: work does in fact have air conditioning (even if they'll only turn it on for ten minutes at a stretch). Our office has skylights above my desk, which is hell at 3:00 when the sun shines through (although lovely in the morning when I get natural light!)
I was told by an Australian acquaintance that as soon as the sun comes out and it could reasonably be described as "summer", all the British people immediately take off all their clothes and run around that way. The scary thing is he's barely exaggerating. The amount of skin I saw today... and most of it bright pink, or fish-belly white and hanging paunchily over someone's shorts! whew. Myself, I need to shop for some summer clothes. Tight jeans are really not going to cut it in this weather.
I am actually turning pink myself, despite the SPF 20. One of these days I WILL find a hat I like...
I have been busy lately, what with one thing and another. Went to a show last night with Nicolas. He heard about this ska musical playing in the East End, and being a huge ska fan (ska and reggae are big in France, I know not why) he was determined to go. It had to be last night, as well. Nicolas is abandoning us. He's shipping out (okay, flying out) to Kenya tomorrow morning! He has a friend doing an internship there who has offered him a place to stay. So in the space of a week he quit his job, sublet his room, and booked a ticket to Kenya.
I met the girl who's moving in and she seems all right. She's German and doing an internship in London for three weeks (which is how long Nicolas is gone - perfect!) It will be nice to have another female about, although I will miss sitting around discussing the finer points of French grammar with Nicolas. (We seriously do this - it's ridiculous. We sat up till 2 am last Friday exchanging names for various body parts and nouns in French/English.)
Unfortunately the day we went, one of the lead actresses had been in a car accident on the way to the theatre and was too shaken up to perform. The show went on, however, in a modified form. Apparently they didn't have understudies, so one actress played two characters. Was a bit odd - she took the script right onstage with her! - but the show went on. Still, I'd like to see it done the real way as well.
The show is about people from the West Indies coming to London. I found all the jokes about how they found London hilarious - the food, the transit, the "excuse me but I believe you'll find I was in the queue in front of YOU!" but I had a little trouble understanding a lot of it. Thick, THICK Jamaican accents! I don't know how Nicolas managed - I think he just listened to the music and let the words pass him by completely.
We were in the very top of the theatre, and just behind us was a large group of Jamaican people. Man, did they ever get into the show! They sang along to bits, they shouted at the actors, they made appreciative noises. "You tell him, girl!" It was great and very, very different from a staid West End show. I think that's partly what I liked about the whole experience! Rumour has it that "The Big Life" may be the next big West End musical, in which case Nicolas and I will be able to say, "We saw that in a tiny East-End venue on its first run", which would be pretty cool. Like people who saw Nirvana play at some dingy little pub before they hit it big!
I get to see another show on Friday, this time Stomp in the West End. Steph is coming to town and we have quite a weekend planned! Looking very much forward to it (even though I think our Stomp seats are pretty rotten - I only booked them last week for a Friday night.)
There's another show I want to see at some point while I'm here. It's called The Black Rider, music and lyrics by Tom Waits, book by William S Burroughs! How could I resist? Will just have to dig up another Waits fan somewhere to see it with... although they seem to be a little thin on the ground here.
Got a letter from my little sister this week as well. All the hockey news I could ever want, plus an exhortation to marry an Aussie (I will work on it) as well as threats towards my flatmates if they aren't nice to me!
Looking forward to the weekend. Having friends visit is always good...
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