Worst customer interaction of the week:
Older man buying 2 cantaloupes, wearing a tshirt featuring Stalin in portraiture.
Me: It isn’t every day you see Josef Stalin on a tshirt…
(…should I have just let it go… I hoped he’d open his jacket and show me the rest)
him: (older than 55, heavy accent from somewhere further east than France)
I love this man. Millions of people killed by this man. I love Hitler too.
(plu look up, no one has ever bought melons from me…)
him: 2 for 5 – 2 for 5
Me: Yes sir, that is true, but there is a number associated with the melons.
(ps… not under cantaloupe, under mellon… Flip,Flip, flip… type in plu)
I look him in the eyes (noting his dingy hair and dry face wondering to myself where he’s gotten this shirt. This is a new shirt, not yet a favourite. If it had been washed it’s only been once.)
I have no intention of keeping you here any longer than absolutely necessary.
Make change, count it back, have to touch him in the briefest possible way
him: pleased grunt/growl
Me: do you need a bag today?
Me: there, your melons
My conscience kept me from wishing him a good or pleasant evening.
Once I enjoyed writing Taking photos of what I did
Oversharing Of late, I’ve not done anything I could remark on with
much enthusiasm or assumption anyone else would come to it with
interest. I am going to do something about that. …and the photo
Sufficient intent establishes remarkable results.
What was perfect about today?
Not the fact that for the 5th day in a row I only slept about three hours and those were filled with ridiculous nightmares.
It was that Jack woke uncomfortably early as well.
I had decided yesterday that if I was up at dawn again I would make good use of it and be at the British Museum when it opened to see the exhibit called Statuephilia. Museum curators have placed five contemporary works by renowned British artists here and there among the ancient collections. Because he was already up, Jack agreed to come along!
As a general rule, London tourists sleep late and then, after rounding up the other members of their parties, are desperate to find a place to eat breakfast. This usually gives up to 11 am for a low volume city.
We were up and out and onto the bus in perfect time. The number 7 picks up on our corner and drops us directly in front of the museum within a half hour.
Along the way it takes us down Westborne Grove, where this morning I had the pleasure of seeing Jake Gyllenhaal from my seat on the top deck. It has been rumored that he owns a house in our neighborhood, so his being up and out at 9 am doesn’t conflict with my tourist rule generalization.
My hope was that by arriving for the 10 am opening time on a Sunday we would be among only a very few people in the museum and my photos might be tourist-free.
I had a goal of seeing at least two of the sculptures before the museum swarmed, the first was the Marc Quinn Golden statue of Kate Moss (in a tremendously awkward yoga pose) called “Siren”.
It was shiny and pretty but far from my favorite Marc Quinn. That position is held by “Evolution”, the 10 foot tall marble statues of the gestation process of human embryos, which are AWESOME!
Anthony Gromley in the foyer, but everyone was teaming around it.
…and a very, very technically exhausting work by Tim Noble and Sue Webster titled “Dark Stuff”.
For their contribution, they took dead and desiccated cats, dogs, mice and birds and arranged them in such a way that when spotlit the shadows created were a man and woman’s faces in profile, perhaps moving in to share a kiss (or they could just be heads impaled on stakes).
Insomnia has its benefits, at least this morning.
I just had the opportunity to use my celebrity ice breaker:
“Thank you for entertaining me.”
In return, Rik Mayall said, “Giggle, giggle, I was just doing a bit with my umbrella…”
He had rounded the corner twirling his umbrella the way Chaplin twirled his cane.
“Silly, for the past twenty years.”
“Giggle, giggle… your welcome… you have a very beautiful dog.”
Then we went our separate ways, Fox and I to the park, Rik Mayall to where ever he was going… twirling his umbrella.
How dare they!
I was trying to be a good, honest consumer and download a .79p song from iTunes (a rip off as songs in the US go for .99c), when I got the message that there was an error with my card.
Somehow, some way, someone in Texas has our account information and have overdrawn our checking account by well over five hundred dollars!
The Citibank fraud prevention department has been a bit hair trigger in the past, freezing our account three times in the past year “for our safety.”
We spent too much money in Whole Foods London, so they cut it off.
We spent too much money at a dentist in London, so they cut it off.
We spent too much money on a deposit for wedding rings, so they cut it off.
But when, out of nowhere, they think we bought one hundred dollars worth of gasoline twice in three minutes for two days in a row they just let it ride.
Four hundred dollars worth of gasoline in twelve hours, even in these times, ought to have raised a flag, not to mention the 7656km distance from my billing address.
Check your statements, ya’ll.
We have a funeral to attend today.
The father of our friend Karen passed away last week, the result of cancer of the esophagus. I don’t recall when he was diagnosed, but it was within the time we’ve been in London.
We never met him, or his wife, but we heard many and varied stories over dinners.
One of Jack’s pastimes is the compare/contrast of the southern American and southern English lifestyles. The list just got longer.
Apparently, one difference is sharing of personal information.
Almost no one Alan works with knows that his father in law has passed away. Jack knows, as his supervisor and friend, and from what I can tell only one other coworker knows.
As southern boys, there was no question that we would, in support of our friends, attend the funeral. It is just what is done.
I’m not sure if there was an actual invitation issued, as that would have been a Jack/Alan thing, but I do know at one point Jack may have offended Alan a bit by saying we were “excited about the chance” to attend a british funeral.
For the record, I’m never excited about attending a funeral, no matter how cultural insightful it may be.
I was told we were going, I didn’t question it.
Then I stopped into the store to pick up groceries and was cornered by the other team member who knows about the situation.
“Are you excited about Tuesday?” she asked.
I said I was not “excited” and tried to explain what he had really intended to say.
Then she began to tell me what is and is not expected of a funeral service. It is a solemn occasion, not one for socializing, it is a time for family to grieve.
Ok, I get it. Not so different.
Black is the only acceptable color to wear.
Then she begins with the too-much-information gossip. (which I now share in the semi-private ‘friends only’ internet posting)
“He was Catholic, she was Protestant, that’s why they left Belfast. It was just not done, interfaith marriage, it was a dangerous place to be. I think Karen found a priest to give the service, I’m not sure if everyone will be going to a church afterward or just to the pub…”
For the deeply respectful situation that it is, a funeral (in London at least) is followed up by heavy drinking in a pub.
I took the chance to share that in the american south, a funeral is followed up by a pot luck or catered lunch at the home of a family member or close friend. That it takes the mourning process from graveside to home, surrounding the family and friends with love support.
“Those with an appetite do…”
“Do you drink?”
“Alcohol? It would depend on the funeral, but never in a bar.”
Now, with five hours to go, I’m a little bit nervous that we will be the outsiders who crashed the party.
My sense of humor at the entire situation has come to a head.
I’ve just gone online to get directions to the crematorium from their website. I know it’s a low price hosting option, but out of good taste I think the East London Cemetery and Crematorium ought to consider their options.
Non-denominational as it may be, even I see the possible conflict of having the word “Demon” in a cemetery web address.
THAT’S something you’d never find in the american south.
Walking home from grocery shopping today, I saw an artist and his cameraman drilling holes into the brick wall which holds up the Hammersmith and City Line over St. Marks Road.
One hand holding the drill and one holding a smallish canvas he was struggling, putting screws through the corners of the piece and attaching it to the brick. His cameraman was standing three feet behind, documenting. They seemed to be in a rush, perhaps new to the stealth application of street art.
It looked like fumbling.
Gusts of wind kept grabbing at the canvas, folding it over and obscuring the image.
I paused to see what it might be and a gust grabbed a piece of paper from one of their bags, blowing it toward the street.
I took a step and caught it, handing it to the cameraman.
“Of course… what is that?”
“Well… that’s it?”
“We thought this corner looked rubbish…”
I thought of the dead birds and sleeping homeless I’ve seen against that wall, and this image still fighting against semi-permanent display.
The image is of a woman in a red dress beside a ladder, smoking a cigarette.
It is tinted with a minimum of paint, revealing the marker sketch of the original image beneath.
The finished work looks a bit like unfinished homework. It is signed “Joesph.”