Day 2 London

Camilla’s school was on its last day of term so Camilla had written cards and bought wine for her teachers. I enjoyed meeting some of the girls, who clearly thought I was Camillas boyfriend, as well as having a sneak around the school for photos. Apparently not sneaky enough as Lucy’s mum told me on Friday that when she’d said they were looking after Edward the headmistress said, ‘oh yes the tall chap’ We imagined they  had probably been wondering was I Lucy or Camilla’s boyfriend.

The school was certainly nice. Not grand in an impractically large wooden door and red brick public school way, but just full of nice touches that can only happen with that little extra bit of money. The most obvious thing I noticed when I walked in was the fact that the entire school was carpeted. Not only classrooms, but the corridors too! Camilla and Lucy clearly didn’t think this odd at all, but I shudder to think what would happen to any carpets in the corridors of Methody, or any other school I’ve been in really. The other thing I noticed was how narrow the corridors were, just over one person wide. Explained of course by the complete lack of traffic. The classrooms were small, they seated about 12 in the smallest I saw and 15 in the biggest. I was however in the sixth form corridor, junior classes must have been larger, though I didn’t see many large classrooms anywhere elsewhere that I looked. There was some genuinely beautiful outdoors bits, including a lacrosse pitch. It seems that far from the vast, modern glass faced beasts I imagined independent schools to be, the school was more like a collection of houses converted for school use, cosy and intimate would be a better description. Where the school did have new facilities though, the extra finance was more obvious to see. Not so much that they had facilities unaffordable to a state school, but just facilities that no-one would think of placing in a state school. The ballet studio being the most obvious example.

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Anyway, now that I’d finished skulking around the school and Camilla had finished delivering the booze to staff members, we headed into London. My first museum of the summer was to be the British Museum. I barely noticed the hundreds of millennia old busts I was so busy staring at the so moderne roof. Having spotted a seagull seated on top of a pane of glass, I exclaimed to Camilla,

“That’s so impressive that seagulls can just sit on a pane of glass so high up and not be unnerved by there being no ground under their feet!”
“Well, they’re probably used to it, since they’re birds…”

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I had just about enough classical greek left to translate (ok, who’s kidding, transliterate) a few bits of the Greek. Having a little knowledge of some of the myths helped too (ruining Camilla’s Disneyified versions of Hercules and the Little Mermaid forever). Thankfully a FB friend of mine, Yannis, could fill me in on the details afterwards.

“About Hercules (Ἡρακλῆς): It was Hera who drove him mad, because he was the son of Zeus with another woman – and that was not the first time Zeus cheated. Hera had also tried to kill him as a baby, with two snakes, which Hercules throttled easily.
During his madness he killed his wife, Megara, daughter of the king of Thebes, along with his children. His later “labours” were his redemption for this slaughter, when he recovered his sanity.
About the 192 soldiers: You are referring to the 192 Athenians who died at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC), fighting against the Persians. They were buried in a tomb (τύμβος), covered my sand, resulting in an artificial hill. The total number of the Athenians was about 10,000, and number of Persian forces must have been more than 30,000. The casualties of Persians exceeded the 6,000. The Olympic Marathon is also related to this battle.”

After having ‘much lols’ at the naked men on some pots we left the British Museum and headed back to Stanmore by tube. Camilla had a school concert that night so I was going there and also meeting up with Lucy there. Going to Methody clearly gives people a very high standard for school music, but even so the concert was very good. Despite being an all girls school, they seem to have focused on brass. Their band played The Great Escape as well as Disney’s Lion King (which Lucy and I could sing all the words to of course!) and their lady choir sang Lift Up Thine Eyes, which I again sang all the words to, though not quite so well. The three of us returned to Lucy’s house where we had a good catchup, including some rather hilarious stories of an ‘IB Girls’ holiday in Spain. It was the third night I’d slept on a real mattress instead of an air bed, but waow it takes some time for the novelty to wear off.

Day 1 London

<Ding> “your Ryanair crew will be passing through the cabin with scratchcards momentarily.” Maybe it was the 5.30am wake up, or the lack of breakfast, or maybe I genuinely was flying to london in a very small supermarket. It was a supermarket atmosphere on the flight, a constant stream of adverts meant then when I closed my eyes in a futile attempt to sleep I was half expecting to hear the beeps of the tills. My tummy rumbled loudly due to its lack of breakfast, either that or Ryanair have very effective subliminal messaging techniques. But I couldn’t complain about flying at all. For one thing I don’t get travel sick on planes. Somehow my mind finds being hundreds of feet up in the air at over a hundred miles per hour far less nauseating than driving down the M1. And second of all, the flights were £20, including all taxes. Amazing, I can get to London for only slightly more than it costs me to get to school! Unfortunately once i got off the plane the frugality could continue no more, I did avoid a £50 train and got a £14 return bus fare instead. It was just after 8am so I realised I wasn’t in too much of a rush to get into London anyway.

I met Camilla at Liverpool street, where I wandered around for about 10 minutes looking for a bin until she pointed out that there were none since 7/7. We went to covent gardens for breakfast. Being early on a monday morning it was very quiet, but a string quintet had still turned up to perform which was nice, and they were great as expected.

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Performers at Covent Gardens at an unearthly hour of the morning

After walking around Covent Garden we took a walk down Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Bond Street. Time was made, of course, for a visit to that spectacle they call Abercrombie and Fitch. Camilla and I donned our gas masks, lit our torches and ventured inside. We posed at the door with the semi-nekkid model, he was clearly a mild homophobe because he clearly was not comfortable, but Camilla suggests now that it may have been because I was wearing Hollister, a brand that must bring bile into the mouths of these Aberfitchies.

It was coming close to lunch so we headed to Hyde Park, parched with all this hot weather, for our lunch. This was the day after IB results, so there was much drama surrounding who had got their points and who hadn’t. I feel I may have just gotten a taster of what I’ll be dealing with in August in a years time and I had the rather unpleasant sensation of suddenly recalling those AS level results in August that I had so successfully put to the back of my mind. Camilla, being a genius, had got 44/45 (and the lost point, in French, was widely considered a travesty by all) and so easily made her offer for History at Oxford, Lincoln college. Camilla also had to buy a dress for a leavers ball, so after taking a walk around Hyde Park we went to Selfridges. While I was waiting on Camilla in the fitting rooms one of the shop assistants asked me ‘Are you waiting for something to try on?’
‘Uhhh, sorry?’ I was pretty confused, had she actually just called me a transvestite? I’d thought that my clothing of Jeans and a long sleeved shirt made my lack of transvestite enthusiasm quite clear, but apparently not.
‘Oh right you’re waiting on someone! We get lots of men in here who do [try on women’s clothing]’ I also got to enjoy a bored little 5 year old boy natter away to what looked like a very upper class older woman, her heavy makeup barely concealing how much contact with the child made her squirm!
Exhausted, having been awake early and carried around a heavy rucksack all day, we headed back to Camillas on the tube. Just outside the doors of Selfridges we met Safiya, one of the Bahrainians from GYLC. Such a coincidence, as Camilla and I had been talking about how to get in touch with them. We exchanged numbers with her and headed on home. I got to meet Camillas lovely mum and nanny Elaine. Elaine was Irish, proper Irish, rather than the half-baked northern variety that she considered me to be! As well as getting a comfortable and real bed (I had been sleeping on an inflatable for three weeks) I was ridiculously well fed, both in quality and quantity. Camilla’s mum had decided that since “we have a man in the house” I would be catered as though I was a rugby player! Growing boys, growing boys, growing at the waist I suspect.