Thursday, August 24, 2006

Turned away...

Last night, we remaining two house-guests were treated to dinner by our landlady and landlord in honour of the other guest (Y) returning to Japan soon. She has finished her economics PhD.

We had a sherry aperitif, lamb chops, new potatoes and petit pois, lots of wine, fresh raspberries and blueberries with sugar and cream, followed by two demi-tasses of coffee.

Coffee! --- and I still fell asleep barely two hours later.

My landlady toasted Y with good luck, and me to find a rich man who will whisk me away.
Why does everyone want that?

No one sees me doing a prestigious job, they all want me to marry millionaires...where the hell am I going to find one of those? Anyone got an extra millionaire they could send me?


My landlord said he wanted to get me "p*ssed" because I don't have to drive anywhere. In England, it means drunk, not angry :P
Unfortunately, although I am quick to get a buzz, I don't easily get silly drunk and it doesn't last long; neither do I get a headache next day. Not even with copious refills of lethal homemade mixed drinks. I seem to burn it off as quickly as I get it. Thank you, liver :)


As there was nothing to do at the office today, I was given the day off. My dad made a big deal of this and said I should talk to them about it - but say what? I am a temp, paid by the hour to perform a specific job, not annually to fill a role - and even more importantly, this is a real-time project, so why would they have me twiddling my thumbs?

And what did I do on my day off?

Well, working seems to make me tired to the core and in my bones and the like, so I slept until 11, got up and dressed to go to York - I had cancelled tea in York with some acquaintances after getting this job, but the day off came as rather a windfall so I went for it. I even got to the ticket counter, and when she said the ticket would cost 72 pounds, I said ,"I'm sorry, what did you say?"
She repeated, "Seventy-two pounds."
"Seventy-two pounds! Is it always like that???"

Apparently, in the morning it is nearly double the cost. You could take the Eurostar to Belgium for 20 quid less, and Paris for half that!!! Hello?!?!?!

If I go to York to have tea, even if it is at Betty's Tea Rooms, I would rather make it a long weekend trip rather than a 4 hour visit with a 5 hour round trip.

What's more, the group that did go have said they waited ages to get in because it was Ladies' Day at the races so there must have been a lot of fancy hats mincing about in York today.
Also, I have just learned that if I book in advance, the price is drastically reduced. Only, catch-22, I didn't know I could go until yesterday afternoon.


So what did I really end up doing?

I enriched my mind FOR FREE. As I was at King's Cross station, I decided I'd walk a litle way down the road to the British Library.
Finally, exploring the BL after having lived here all these years. It was only opened in 1998, and I am not sure what it replaced or where the BL was before...

I would love to tell you now what I saw there, but I will leave it until tomorrow because it is a whole other post, and it is past my bedtime now. I also haven't forgotten that I need to post pics of the sleepover, the wedding, and the view from my window.

Bonne Nuit!


panda_eyed said...

£72 for a train journey? That's ridiculous!
If you happen to find somewhere that stocks spare millionaires, let me know :) People are funny huh? If only life were that easy.

MattJ said...

Until the early 70s, the library was part of the British Musuem, until some act of parliament (British Library act 197something). Then it was basically a series of repositories in Boston Spa, Holburn and some other places I forget.

Now it's mostly housed in that location in Euston Road I think?

More interesting yawn worthy facts! It's considered one fo the world's greatest research libraries, and while the Houses of Congress are listed in teh Guinness book of records as the 'Largest Library on Earth', it's a bit of a cheat as they are based on shelf space the collection occupies rather than content. The BL has somehting like 25 million more items than the congress one, though I think i am right in saying the library of congress has more books.

Now I really have to go there to justify this anal knowledge of the BL I didn't even know I had til i read this post..... (ie - you may want to verify everything I said with a more reliable source!)

Roxandra said...

Your wish to finally find your prince is well known to your landlords and friends so I am guessing they want you to end up with a rich one to boot? Besides having money is lovely as is not having to work but being able to choose to if you want. Besides being able to choose a huge rock of a Tiffany's engagement ring might be seen as a bonus? ;oP

panda_eyed said...

A tiffany rock would be lovely, yes *sighs*. It would be great not having to worry about money, as I could then concentrate on a job I loved doing, even if it paid very little. But I would hate to be one of those wives who lunch, go to the gym and generally do nothing but shop all day. I would rather be very much in love with my guy and have very little money than have a rich hubby I didn't love. Still, one can dream though about having the whole package :)

The Moody Minstrel said...

Maybe if you're lucky you'll win a millionaire in a prize drawing or something.

I see that period mark-ups for fares are just as bad if not worse in the U.K. than they are here. It's just insane. They only do it because they can. That's what's called a "captive clientele".

Brain-enrichment is always a good thing, anyway, especially if it's free.

( word verification is "knowx". Do you know quantity "x"?)

Olivia said...

Panda - Why don't we go hang out along millionaire's row. Choose your city, and there is one be it Park Lane, Fifth Avenue, XVIe arrondissement...

Matt - I enjoyed that bit of trivia, thanks.
Fuzzy head that I have, I forgot that I knew the BL used to be in the BM. I lived at the BM during the first part of my art history degree. Probably sat in Trotsky's very own chair in the hours I spent buried in research.

Speaking of Trotsky, I saw his application letter for a pass to the British Museum Library, using his given name Lev Bronstein.

Rox - what Panda said next was so much like something you would say that I thought, without bothering to read the name, that it was you!

It is indeed possible to receive a Tiffany ring, not from someone hopelessly ugly and abominably rich, but rather someone truly wonderful and happily well-to-do.


Panda - I know, perpetually hanging about with that vacuous lot of manicured peacocks would drain my soul from its body!
Also, see what I said to Rox in the second part of the comment.

Minstrel - Somehow, all those sorts of money things are worse in the UK than anywhere else in the world. The UK chews a hole in your pocket. London sucks money from you, soon followed by blood.

What am I doing here?
I don't want to leave...

Knowx - X is whatever quantity you wish it or need it to be. :)

Lordy, can;t blog about the educational visit to the BL yesterday, my eyes are shutting right now, as I type.

Roxandra said...

Yeah but why would the millionaire have to be ugly? I know at least one that is actually rather devastatingly gorgeous. All I'll say is Argentinian Polo player... ;o)

M. said...

I miss London and all the lovely strolls one could take. In fact, I almost miss all of the big cities that are small enough geographically to have an elaborate public transportation system - Boston, Chicago, DC, London, Paris... It's so easy to get around places and there's always a million things to do. Not like the American west where the car = your legs.

Only this past month did I get bombarded with all the "When are you getting married? You're hitting X years old!" from relatives. I guess at our age, marriage seeems the natural progression. Never "When are you going to get that dream job?" - at least not for me. Yet.


tooners said...

I love sitting in quiet libraries! There aren't any good ones here and the ones they do have, most, if not all, the books are in Arabic. That was one of the things I really enjoyed while studying in college... the libraries.

Millionaires... all the girls are trying to find them here. So many ppl marry for money.. I don't see the point. I understand having riches beyond your wildest dreams... but I'd rather be happy and in love. But then again, I guess some of them do find love... who knows. I worked w/ this girl in my last job (in Bahrain) and all she talked about was marrying someone who was rich. She didn't care what he looked like. I used to ask her... "what about when your in bed" and she would always laugh and say she'd close her eyes! Can you imagine?!

I get terrible hangovers... hate drinking because of it. Beer doesn't usually do that to me, but wine does and hard alcohol.

Olivia said...

Rox - oh, I say!

Mers - I just read that NYC has more abandoned subway stations than Baltimore has working ones.

I like shooting off to destinations in straight lines underground, except EVERY MORNING there are delays. Why is it when you have to BE somewhere, you get stuck, yet when all you're doing is shopping, you get there without a hitch?

Still, I really miss driving. I enjoy it, as an activity.

If a person is successful in their job it's sort of incidental, and families still ask them when they are going to get married and have children.
Wow, that survival instinct sure is strong, even in this age of individualism and materialism.

Tooners - ah, I didn't visit the library shelves, just the displays. It is a huge place and has a few galleries.

Ugh, that's nasty about those girls closing their eyes.
So they have all this money, and in their hearts they are cold and lonely, and will never feel the warmth of love and companionship.

peter pieces said...

Booo! On the trains, they're such a rip off. Sometimes you can save a decent amount by booking a day in advance, and more if you go much further in advance but I find a day to be a good compromise as you know for sure if you're going or not.

tooners said...

oh, my dear, they feel the warmth of companionship.. not sure about love though. many of these women and men have affairs after marriage. that goes on big time here!

The Moody Minstrel said...

Oh, really?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I once chatted with a Filipina who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, and she said half the (Saudi) women she knew there were having affairs.

With all the segregation, veils, crazed zealots walking around with whips, etc., it makes one wonder how it could be possible!

Olivia said...

Pete - what are you doing all the way on the other side of the blogosphere??? Brave soul...

Tooners & Minstrel - I am surprised by this, you know. As Minstrel mentions, there are all the huge obstacles.

I guess...a man could dress up as a woman, they are so heavily veiled, but most women don't go anywhere without a driver, do they? All the chaperones and modesty police or whatever they call them in Saudi.

negrito said...


Olivia said...

Well hello, Negrito, you seem to be the other brave soul from the other side :)

Leilouta said...

Millionaires...I had a few young single girlfriends in Tunisia who were so desperate to find a good man that they just didn't’t care in the end. They jokingly said that they wanted to marry old millionaires so they could inherit them after their death.

“We had a sherry aperitif, lamb chops, new potatoes and petit pois, lots of wine, fresh raspberries and blueberries with sugar and cream, followed by two demi-tasses of coffee.”

You always make me drool with your description of food. Aaaaaah lamb chops…they are so good. Lamb is the most popular meat in Tunisia… we even eat lamb fat with bread and it is so good.

tooners said...

well, you don't get women having to be driven around here, but there are TONS of affairs. the girls flirt openly w/ men. that is the one thing that used to really bother me when i first moved here. a lot of girls don't care if you are w/ the man, they still come on to them and flirt right in front of you w/ the man you are with!

and to be honest, some of the girls that are covered are the worst!!!! no kidding. i could tell you story after story my dear! and believe me, they DO manage to see the men and to have affairs. it's amazing how common affairs are here - and lots do it.

we have a huge open lot next to our house and one night we heard screaming down there, so we looked out the window. there was a woman wearing an abaya and hijab banging on a van and screaming. well, finally a man came out of it and started screaming and her and trying to hold her down. my husband went down there because we thought he would hurt her. come to find out, it was her husband - she was pregnant - and the husband was inside the van having sex w/ some girl. finally, after the wife called the girl every name in the book, she came out all covered and ran to her car. got in and sped away.

we have a hooker/bahraini/prostitute living in the flats across the way from us. you should see what she looks like and what she wears. when i was off of work last year on holiday, tons of men would come throughout the day. she has a different man each week. she doesn't work, drives a nice car... and everyone knows what she does.

this is JUST two incidents. i know lots of stories... and see lots from where i work as well! and most of the women are covered here.

oh yeah, saudi women are the worst from what i hear! they love sex orgies!! some guys that used to work where i worked liked to talk about that stuff. i couldn't believe it..i always thought they were so religious there! but... the saudi women aren't the only ones. a lot of these girls love all things dirty! i have a g/f (american) and her husband is bahraini, he works w/ some bahraini girls that have affairs w/ some sheikhs! you should hear their stories!!

Olivia said...

Leilouta - wow, that was just a really simple dinner, eaten in good company.

Tooners - oh my GOSH! I really don't get this!!!

Olivia said...

By the way, I have been meaning to write a new post for the past couple of days :)

The Moody Minstrel said...

Amazing how talk of work, a meal, and a stop at a library can wind up turning into lurid tales of what really goes on behind the veil...

Hmm..."Behind the Veil". Sounds like a good name for a TV series...or a song...

Olivia said...

I know, leave a post alone for a few days and it goes wild!

Mikeachim said...

£72 for a day both shockingly wrong and entirely typical.
It's a disgrace. Book with a week to go, and it's £19 return. How they can justify a 350% price hike is beyond me. It's utter greed - and it's exploitive. If you're going somewhere last minute, it's probably very you'll pay anything.
A few years back I was working on an excavation in Orkney. I missed by train to Aberdeen - a return ticket, booked in advance, was £45-ish. And on the day, buying another ticket, one-way, was £80.
Go figure.
I wonder if it's like this anywhere else in the world......

tooners said...

Moody, love the title "Behind the Veil". Indeed, what a great song title or title for a TV series! I can hear the music...

Anonymous said...


I posted on here the other day but it never showed up - or you deleted it!

The British Library was built on the site of the old St Pancras station goods yard.

Olivia said...

Anon - sweetie, I would never delete any of your comments!

Oliver said...

Hey Olivia!

It's amazing you don't get hangovers. I really envy you - even though I'm on the wagon this month. My hangovers are so appalling, despite everything I try to do to cure them.

As for the 72 quid rail ticket, you've just found out the lunacy of the British railway system. I have to use it all the time and never fail to be staggered by how crazily unfair the ticket pricing is.

An electronics boffin once told me there are more than 500 million possible permutations of rail ticket in the UK when you take into account all the different routes and different fares.

And the trains don't run on time!