Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Pronunciation: 'l&n-d&n
Usage: geographical name
1 city Canada in SE Ontario on Thames River population 325,646
2 city & port SE England formerly constituting an administrative county capital of United Kingdom; comprises City of London or The City (approximately coextensive with ancient Lon.din.i.um /län-'di-nE-&m, "l&n-/ ; population 4000) & 32 other boroughs which together are referred to as the metropolitan county of Greater London (area 632 square miles or 1637 square kilometers, population 6,377,900)

I did number 2 last weekend. On the Strand, in the heart of Theatreland, there stands a famous and fabulous hotel named the Savoy. All the beautiful and non-beautiful rich people stay there and do things like have high tea complete with clotted crème. We stayed across the street, just a two minute or so walk from Covent Garden. Street performers are nothing new, but in Covent Garden, they seem to have elevated it to a higher level. No longer do you see the lone guitar player singing off-key to a Paul Simon song he barely knows the lyrics to. That would just be too last millennium. Now, in addition to aforementioned guitar and requisite hat or case in which passersby are to throw coins, they now have microphones, amplifiers and Bose speakers. However in spite of all that, they still haven’t managed to learn the words. I guess that allows for artistic interpretation and freedom.

For our first night in London, I had arranged tickets for The Lion King. There we sat, the grown ups, being suspiciously eyed and ogled by the little tykes that littered the theatre. Great. All I needed after a pre-dawn flight and a day of hard-core shopping, in which I could find nothing in my size, was a bunch of whiney little things that would have to go wee-wee in the middle of the play. I was wrong. The children were great… Not a peep to be heard once the music started. In fact, it was quite enjoyable watching the reactions of the children. I honestly have to say, It was one of the most amazing productions I have seen… Yes, the story is the same as the movie, but the scenery, props, costumes and extra music were just beautiful. I won’t go into detail as that would spoil it for anyone that goes to see it, and you should all run out to your local ticket office and book those suckers now!

Saturday morning. If I had known what was in store, I would have stayed in bed. Better to watch bad British TV. The main reason I was in London was Pride in the Park, an annual gathering of gay people from all over the place. Normally I avoid any mass gay event, but I was persuaded by friends to make an exception and go to London. “It will be a great time” they assured me. Well, here’s what happened. It all started with the weather forecast. Light rain in the early afternoon turning into major rain and thunder later in the day. Brilliant. I turned the channel from BBC1 to BBC 2 and was told the same thing. BBC World backed them up, so I had no choice but to bite the bullet and head out. The sun was out and we all looked very cute, I eschewed the labels and went as an Abercrombie and Fitch model. A and F is not sold here, so I figured I would have my own look and would stand out as “That cute guy we saw at the park”. I was mortified to discover that somehow, someway, A and F had fully invaded London. In fact, to my dismay, it is considered the gay uniform. I was instantly part of the tired and huddled gay masses, waiting for a parade to start. And here is it came, winding up from the Houses of Parliament (Big Ben for all of you not familiar with London) to Trafalgar Square, where we were standing. We being myself, Ulco and Michel. Yes we saw it all… Dykes on Bikes to Chicks with Dicks, they were all there. The good news about the parade is that it lasted but an hour and then it was off to what promised to be a fabulous party in Hyde park. The weather was looking good and the warnings from the BBC seemed like a distant memory. What follows is a perfect example of typical British logistics and organization. We get to the main entrance of the party, which is at Marble Arch. We had bought tickets online (for 26 pounds each, I might add) and needed to pick them up at will-call. At the entrance, we were told to go around the side and we would find will call there. We walked and walked, finally reaching the other end of Hyde Park. There was the will call. There were 19 windows. 8 for credit card purchases, 8 for cash purchases, and 3 for will call. Guess where the line was. 16 windows had absolutely no customers. 3 had a line that we stood in for over ½ an hour, but grew to mammoth proportions while we were there. We got the tickets and guess were we had to go to get in? Yep, back to the main and only entrance. Finally we got, only to discover that in order to buy any drinks, you must by drink tokens. No cash. Just as we were about to stand in line again, we get a text message that the Piper Champagne bar is cash. Nothing more needed to be said and within 9 minutes we were slurping on the bubbly. Then it happened. One little raindrop. We braved the light shower and marched ourselves to the main performance stage which was next to where we had picked up the tickets. A little more rain. 15 minutes later, we were looking for shelter and I was looking for an excuse to bow out gracefully. After another hour and a half of rain, I abandoned the excuse and said “we’re leaving”. I pushed my way through the Abercrombie clad crowd with Ulco in tow and off to SOHO we went.

SOHO was hopping with all the locals that know better than to go to the party in the park. Here they all were, dry and drinking without tokens. Once again, it was time to herd. I marched up to the bar, got myself a Smirnoff Black and tried to look cute and adorable while hair wax was streaming into my eyes. By this time, we had had enough and so back to the hotel we went. Naps and CSI for everyone. Then the phone rang. It was Michel. It was 10pm and he was in SOHO with a few friends and did we want to come? It was also pissing down rain. Michel would stay in SOHO for a bit and then head off to the hotel before going onto a friends house. We agreed to text each other if our locations changed. He do our bit and head off to SOHO. In the 10 minutes it took us to walk it, we were absolutely soaked. Well, not totally. My black Prada 100% waterproof jacket came through with flying colors. My head was soaked, my trousers were soaked, but I had a dry strip right across my chest. No sooner do we get to SOHO than my phone rings. It was Michel. It was 10:20pm and he was at the hotel.

Ulco and I made the best of it, had a bit of Italian food for dinner and headed back to the hotel to put the whole episode behind us.

Great news for all you single people out there… Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak to the guys. Especially if they like guys as well. There is a new, hip and happening pick-up place in London. The Tate Modern. Enough cute guys to keep even the most jaded of us entertained. No need to hang out at the stereotypical Warhol and Keith Harings, simply place yourself in front of any old piece of art and let the magic begin. There are outside terraces on the upper floors, where you can place yourself against a backdrop of London, St. Pauls Cathedral lurking mysteriously in the background could be just what you need to conjure up the dark and brooding side of yourself. And best of all… It’s free.

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