Here's some quick business before the crux of this post. I shared a picture with you in a previous post of the statue of Winston Churchill near Parliament. I thought it was a killer shot, but alas (and OF COURSE), zillions of others have taken the same photo (only better), and I even spotted it in the recent movie Hector and the Search for Happiness (okay, but nothing to write home about, and I usually love Simon Pegg movies). I can't find a screen shot, but there's a scene where Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike (the now uber-famous Gone Girl) are hanging in their apartment, and in the background you see their his-and-hers laptops, both having said photo as their wallpaper. The one that I think is hers has the usual shot, and his is the same but in the negative, like so...
Now I'm second guessing myself and wondering if it was actually in Gone Girl. I think it was Hector (which was plastered all over the buses and Underground while I was in London). Anyway, a recent picture starring Rosamund Pike had that damn shot of Winston Churchill in it, and was a blow to my false sense of originality. So, there you go.
Finally, we come to the things that I overheard in the UK. I overheard a ton of stuff, actually--I think at one point I counted the number of languages that I'd heard spoken by fellow travelers...visitors...okay, annoying tourists infesting the cities like rodents--I own what I am. I think I had it up to ten at one point. Other than English, obviously, there was--French, Spanish, German, Russian, Hindi (?), Swedish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic (?), Unknown African language (?). That brings the list to a dozen including English, and I put a question mark where I can recognize where a language comes from, but not distinguish between languages and dialects. I could have heard multiple languages within a group, but I don't have enough of an aptitude to spot the differences. So, I heard at least twelve languages spoken by other visitors to London, and also maybe half of those same languages in Edinburgh. That's a really fun and transforming experience.
More to the point, though, I wanted to share a few things that I overheard while traveling in the Underground and strolling through museums. I'll save the best for last.
August 20th...the tube...old lady talking to a man my age about his elderly aunt living in Hounslow. She would NEVER live there, and told him in her thick South London accent, "She doesn't have anythin' goin' for her." He tried to tell her about his aunt's nice little set up, but she wouldn't have it. It got worse when he said that his aunt lived in a very nice old folks' home. The lady said, "Before I'd go live in a home, I'd throw a big party, and at the end I'd walk to Westminster Bridge and jump off. HAHAHAHAHA!" I don't know if she was kidding, but she was a hoot, and she said that she'd already told her family and friends about this party with a grim end.
August 17th...British Museum...awesome dad with two little children looking at the Rosetta Stone. One of the most profound moments of my trip was getting to see it, even though it's behind glass (hard to get a good photo, but here was the best I could get). As I turned away to give others a turn, I heard this great guy explaining to his little ones, "You know how all of your stories have 'Once upon a time'? Well, this stone makes all of those languages the same story...and we can know what happened once upon a time..." Holy shit, that's brilliant.
August 16th (we're walking backwards again)...on the tube...nice, awesome dad syndrome strikes again...a man with his wife, a little boy, a little girl, and the little girl looking all like me at age four, same curly brown hair and brown eyes, and she's leaning over on me on the train. The mom looks at me and smiles a "thanks" for not being annoyed. The little girl ends up falling on the floor, and I pick her up, this time a pat on the knee from mom, and a verbal thank you ("Tanks"--they're Irish). During the ride, the dad reads the paper, and I could mistake him for disinterested, but then he wows me with this advice to his tiny girl, "Look all around you. See everything you can see. If you have a question, ask me." I just thought that was the best advice in the world, and have taken it on as a sort of motto. I'm going to look all around me. See everything I can see, and if I have a question, I'm going to ask.
Thanks, strangers I'll never see again! I mean...tanks!