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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

London: [people] * places * things

One of the best parts of traveling is the meeting of new people.
Here are just three examples from this trip to London:

When I asked Sam if I was in the right place he put his arms on my shoulders and called me "love," which confirmed my suspicion that all British people speak like my friend Sally Hull. 
Sam, of course, was the gregarious guide of the walking tour we took on Wednesday night. 
The event was touted as a ghost tour, and was free with our Big Bus tickets.*  The tour actually had very little to do with ghosts and a lot more to do with drinking and shmoozing at the Sherlocke Holmes Pub. After we pounded our ales, Sam led us about casually "I hate big groups of people," he said with a straight face, "so try not to stand like we're a big group of people." At every monument or "haunted" establishment that we hit Sam demonstrated his ability to tie sex into almost anything. He was hilarious and high energy, often having to pause and draw a deep breath after spouting off paragraphs of information. His guidance was spiked equally with jokes at the expense of British history and fond memories of his own grandmother. I was sad to leave him.

Alison Wilkie is a ferociously hip screenwriter who I met in the staff room at St. Mungos. When she isn't writing  scripts she is running a  creative writing group for homeless people. She is also both an actress and an established stand up comedian. When she found out that I also split my time between comedy and working for the homeless, she put her arms around me and we both laughed like children. 
Alison's story is crazy, she's done everything from working as a chicken keeper in Bethlehem to performing as a dancing girl in Milan.  She has also been street-homeless in London. Now she uses both her understanding of homeless life and her artistic talents to help others unlock their own experiences. 

The 62 year old man from forty minutes outside of London who was my seat mate on the plane ride home is named John. He has a sister who lives in Massachusetts, and he has only recently begun flying internationally to see her. He's been all over New England. "Naught teew diffehrent, then." His accent was so foreign to me that sometimes I had to ask him to repeat things, and sometimes I just nodded and smiled and he would laugh, knowing I hadn't understood him through his countryside dialect.
He was wearing bright socks  that didn't match his shirt or shorts, the way my grandpa Ben does. 
His were lime green and lemon.

 "I have 20 more pairs in my suitcase," he explained. "People say I'm too old and I think, 'too old for what? For fun?'" 

 He'd been trying to find a pair of American flag socks, but couldn't.

 "I wanted to wear one American and one British one for the fourth of July!" he smiled. "One year we went out, and we were in Maine and I put up the American flag on one side and the British flag on the other. People looked, but they know it's a laugh. It's all just a laugh."

Then we traded trivia about wars. You know, like people do.

*The only reason, I believe, John agreed to accompany me on something called "Ghosts By Gaslight"**
**Despite the distinct lack of ghosts there WAS a gaslight on this tour.

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