Arrived in London, like a big kid.
The last time I was in London, I had just begun my twenties. This is what I was thinking this morning as I walked down the stairs of the grand Beaver Hotel, after my first night in London, to ask the front desk person to borrow their scissors. ‘How I’ve changed in the years since then,’ I thought. The woman at the desk handed me the scissors and said, “Be careful, they’re sharp.” The timing of this warning felt rather staged – maybe I am still just a little kid, I thought, as I tried carefully not to run back up the stairs with the twin blades.
I arrived yesterday at the true beginning of day. From my airplane window I saw stars and then I saw sunrise. I got a coffee at the airport from a nice man who offered me a stamp-card. When I hesitated, he said, “You can use it all over the UK. You like songs?”
“What songs do you like?”
“It depends on the day.”
“How about a morning song?”
Then he sang me a couple lines of an improvised “morning song” that was one part ‘good morning’ and one part gentle compliments. I’ve been told you don’t tip in the UK, but you can be sure that man got a strange shaped coin from me. “Do you sing?” he asked, eying my guitar case.
“Yes, I do.”
“How many languages?”
“Have a good day, beautiful.”
I was a calm version of delirious for most of the day. I strolled around different areas of London until I was just lost enough to test my sense of direction. The streets are crowded. The city is dense with bricks and people. I managed to find a copy shop on Petticoat Lane of all places to do my one big chore of the day: print digital download stickers. The staff was exceedingly friendly – even when I asked them for a pub where I could go have a pint while I waited for them to complete my order. At first I wondered why they hesitated, then realized, ‘Oh yeah, it’s 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon and not everyone has been awake for 48 hours.’ Subjectivity acknowledged.
After some more wandering, I made my way back to the neighbourhood of my musty hotel. I had my own room, but the toilet is down the hall – it reminds me of a place I lived in Victoria, BC: my first apartment to myself.
There is no subtlety to the nostalgia wafting around my experiences these first days. I found myself remembering an elementary school project I did (with more than the appropriate amount of help from my mother) as I was arts-and-crafting my download cards in my room. The project was this: plan a trip around the world. Create a budget and an itinerary. We had to research approximate airplane tickets, hotel prices and estimate food costs. At that point in recent history, the Internet was not a significant contributor to school projects, so we used travel guides, called airlines and drew up guesstimates. It took ages to complete (or at least, the whole night I had allowed myself on the eve of the deadline).
This morning, I am booking a bus to Bath where I will stay with some local artists and perform at a private event they are hosting. I have tabs open comparing train and bus prices, departure times and the advantages of different drop off locations. I’m hoping to do better on the project this time around.
[Note: if you want to check out more pictures of my adventures, head to instagram and follow @loulaurencemusic . If you or someone you dig is in the UK and wants to see me play, the Upcoming Shows section of this website is being updated regularly)