Finding My UK Feet: 17-29 March 2009

Buckingham Palace

17th March

I’ve been trying to get hold of my contact at Timeplan, but with no success. I’ve left two messages for him to contact me today, but he hasn’t. I think that I need to now do something else. I’ve been here a week and I still have no job. It’s very worrying. But, there are other things I can do. There’s tourism and there are other teaching agents. I just wanted to give this agency a chance. They’ve been so great up to now and I had a good feeling about them. But they’ve ceased to be helpful.


For lunch, I went to Carmen’s and we chatted for hours! Jassie and Kirsti – friends from music college engaged to each other – came online and we chatted on google chat. It got very interesting when all four of us were trying to say something unrelated to the other three conversations, all on one user’s account – mine.

Finally, I left for home. But I did not remain there for long because it is SAINT PATRICK DAY.  I met Zoë at Piccadilly Circus and we went to a pub for a half pint of Guinness – I promise: only a half pint! We then went to another, quieter place and drank something a bit easier to consume.

Eventually, Zoë and I parted and I took the bus directly home. The bus stop is about a minute away from my door. Soon, I was washing my face and falling into bed. Happy to have spent the day in a very pleasant fashion.

18th March: My mother’s birthday

A hard day: an idle one. I watched Pride and Prejudice – the Kiera Knightly one. It improves with a second viewing. It’s pretty enjoyable and beautifully done, but it’s hard to scale it against the BBC version without it coming out the lesser. Watching this movie was probably not my best idea. It’s about a family and a daughter’s relationship to her father. I missed my family intensely.

With a casserole cooking nicely in the oven, Carmen came over for supper. Her husband is in Cape Town at the moment, which leaves us both looking for distractions. With just salt and pepper and Worcester Sauce, I somehow made an edible meal – compliments to Tescos cheap egg noddles and potato and leak soup, the winning ingredients, I think. Carmen brought a beautiful bottle of French wine. We did not finish it, but we sure had a good go at it.

Finally, we looked at our watches and, with horror, we saw that it was 11:30pm. We had to run to the tube station so that Carmen would not miss her train before they closed up. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. I returned home, happy, to have spent the evening in such lively company.

19th March

I began my day by meeting Carmen at Trafalgar Square where we went into South Africa House. I wanted to ask them a question about the elections. We then went into the British National Gallery. This is the third time that I’ve gone inside this amazing building and I’ve still yet to finish seeing everything. With stomachs grumbling, we picnicked in St James park, where Spring is visibly awakening and the leaves and flowers are beginning to appear. I’ve never seen so many daffodils in all my life. They come in such a mass and in such a profusion of colours. Some of the trees bend with the weight of their flowers.

After this interlude, Carmen took me for a walk through central London and I was introduced to Primark – a cheap clothing shop. I returned home and set about doing my washing. And here, once again, I did a ‘Janine’. While making my way down the stairs, hangers in hand, I slipped. All of a sudden, I found my legs and arms flying and the hangers going in all directions. All in a rush, I found myself, sitting at the bottom of the stairs, feeling as though my spine had entered my skull. After making sure I had not broken any more bones, I could only laugh at myself.

21 March

My subway station lies on the Victoria Line which is often being ‘fixed’ on weekends and today was no exception. Jean, who was staying with me for a few nights, and I wanted to go to Leicester Square in order to buy a couple of tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera. We had to take a bus to King’s Cross and then catch a tube into central London. But this was not so easy. People, dressed up in their rugby jerseys, were on their way to see the Rugby in Twickenham. This and the inactive Victoria Line lead to us all being crammed like sardines into the tube. It was something out of a cliché There was me: face pressed against the glass and gulping for scent-unladened air. When we finally made it to our stop, we literally fell out the tube.

With Phantom tickets in hand, we made our way to Covent Garden – one of my favourite places in London. Here, people sell the most amazing and unique merchandise. In the Apple Market section, you can even buy hand-carved wooden apples. There’s jewellery and tie-dyed dresses, toys and Lush bath and shower goodies. There’s never enough time to see everything. I believe a good part of it was destroyed in the Second World War. So, anyone expecting to see a My Fair Lady real-life set will be sadly disappointed. There are pillars, jugglers, performers and acrobats, but it’s still different.

After having lunch on the Trafalgar stairs, we walked to Her Majesty’s Theatre on Haymarket Street. When buying the tickets, we thought we had found a real sweet deal. And we had. But when we went in search of our seats, we found out why. When showing our tickets to the guy at the front, he directed us up the stairs to the balcony. This was not a problem. So, on entering the balcony section, we asked for our seats. No, F row does not exist on that level. Rather, we had to go up still more stairs. It was kind of like going up a stairwell in a tower. The stairs were steep and narrow and curved in a tight cycle. We finally did find our seats … all the way at the very top of the theatre in the very last row. It wasn’t all bad. The set, music and performance was brilliant. The Phantom was unbelievably good and had such charisma on stage. I honestly could not decide if I hated or loved the character. For finer details, we paid 50p each and hired a couple of opera glasses. It was worth it.

22 March

Being a Sunday, Jean and I went to church before going to Kings Cross, where she had to catch a train. After seeing her off, I returned home and read before meeting Sarah and Andrew for pizza. I am eating far too much pizza at the moment. It’s just so easy. And there are so many Italian places here with real Italians running them.

23 March

Today, it is Zoë’s Birthday. I had an interview with another agency about an hour from where I live. It took up the whole morning. Travel time was about the same as the interview time. It’s really crazy how long it takes to get anywhere in this City. It was raining, cold and miserable. But that’s no surprise, really. It’s only to be expected.

That evening, I met Zoë at The Crown in central London before making our way to Leicester Square, where the premier of the Boat that Rocked had drawn a crowd. We waited in the cold night, hoping to see some celebrities, but all we saw was some DJ that Zoë knew. After about forty minutes of this bone-numbing anticipation, I asked a police officer if he knew when all the celebrities were expected. He laughed and told me it was too late. They were already inside having a party. So much for that. Feeling somewhat flattened, we were joined by a friend of Zoë’s and went to Pizza Hut for supper. And no, I did not have pizza again. I’d already had some for lunch. I had soup instead.

At the premier, there had been some scantily clad 70s girls dancing on podiums. The crowds were all muffled and wrapped up tight to about 3 times their natural sizes. But these girls kept smiling and dancing without so much as a shiver. (and they were not dancing all that energetically). Zoë laughed and said that they must all come from Newcastle.

29th March

I’ve set up some interviews and I’m sending out Cvs and so such. All I can really do is email and wait. Timeplan is useless. My contact doesn’t return my calls or email me back. I’ve joined up with two agencies now and will have joined up with a further two by the end of this week. I’m cold and bored, but comfortable and still maintaining that the glass is half full. It will remain that way until there is no other option but to see it otherwise. I refuse to believe that I’m here to fail. I must just keep positive and keep my eyes on the goal – as they say. Cliché’s are there for a reason. Usually, because they’re true and also so that we can turn to them for comfort.

Well, I’ve had a rather inactive week. But this week, I’ll be a bit busier. What with interviews and seeing my friends.

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