Stephen’s been gone on business for over a week now. While I sometimes enjoy the alone time, I’m starting to think I’m losing my ability to have simple human interaction. So today I decided I would have some indirect interactions with people and go to the National Gallery to research my new blog (check it out! http://animalsinart.tumblr.com/ /shameless plug). The sun was shining, cherry blossom petals were in the air, it was a great day.
And then I got on the Tube.
I’ve had some unpleasant Tube experiences based on delays or sheer crowdness, but today was my first awkward interaction with a person. A young Indian guy sat down next to me. After a few minutes he said, “Excuse me?” Thinking he was going to ask which stop to get off for Buckingham Palace, I obliged him. “How are you?” he asked. And then I got a sinking feeling in my gut. This guy was trying to hit on me. He proceeded to make small talk while I eventually brought up Stephen. Then we didn’t talk again. At all. The time between then and my stop was the most awkward and longest three minutes. Looking back, I probably could have handled it better, but I was thrown off guard. Did I also mention I’ve been deprived of human interaction for the past few days? I probably could have been more polite about it, or even said something cheeky, but I just didn’t want to deal with it. It wasn’t a big deal — guys hit on taken women all the time, right? — but it left a sour taste in my mouth for the rest of the day. My mood went from “It’s such a lovely day!” to “I HATE EVERYONE.” And when you’re feeling like that, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square are two of the worst places to go. Back when I was happy-go-lucky, I decided to get off near Buckingham Palace and walk to the museum, taking in the pre-royal wedding sights. I was no longer in the mood to do so, but had no choice since I needed to get off the train ASAP. So I got off at Green Park and followed the hordes of people.
I followed them to the palace, where there were British flags and construction crews, nothing too fancy, then followed the crowds through St. Jame’s Park. The whole time I was feeling like Cartman when there are too many people in his amusement park.
I don’t like crowds on a good day, but I was feeling especially hostile today. I was almost tripped by strollers (“pushchairs”) and derailed by tourists who suddenly decided to stop in my path for a photo. I felt another Cartman moment coming on:
Luckily I was able to contain myself and made it to the museum. The museum was crowded, but not as bad as the square, and at least it was air conditioned. I looked at every single painting (or at least it felt that way) before I decided to walk to Parliament Square. Stupid idea #2. My reasoning is that I will likely not be anywhere near the area come the royal wedding. I hate crowds and heat, and I’m sure there will be an abundance of both that day. But people are always asking me about the wedding, and I do feel slightly guilty about being here and not seeing any of it, so I wanted to see if Westminster was preparing for it. I pushed my way through the crowds, only to discover Westminster Abbey looks exactly the same as I saw it last month.
There are still protesters. Maybe those white poles are new, but that’s about it. Disappointing. And here’s a photo that embodies tourist London — trying to get a shot of Big Ben and a guy jumps in front of me to give a tourist directions.
So I gave up and got back on the Tube, purposely sitting next to women. Sometimes I feel guilty for not spending more time in tourist London, but every time I do, I remember why I don’t. If you’re looking for me on April 29, I’ll be on my couch, watching the royal wedding with some tortilla chips and Squeeze Cheese.