Jolly Old London

Sometimes you just have one of those nights, and this was one of those nights. I got home and typed out my raw thoughts as quickly as I could as an exercise in primal screaming, if you replaced screaming with writing. Yes, it’s a bitch session, designed to clear it all out of my system….

I went to see “Bitter Wheat” at the Garrick Theatre in Leicester Square, a play written by David Mamet and starring John Malkovich. I paid five pounds for a playbill and took my seat. During the intermission after the first act I set my playbill on my seat and walked through a door thinking it led to the bathroom, but it led to the exit instead so I turned around. I walked past my seat again and my playbill was no longer there. I hadn’t been gone 10 seconds and somebody swiped it. Saw a playbill just sitting there for the taking and damn well took it. Probably thought, “Well look at that. A playbill! Think I’ll nick it and save myself the five pounds!” So I paid five more pounds to buy another one because the guy selling them didn’t much care that somebody had stolen my first one. Maybe that’s considered a proper thing to do here. If it ain’t attached to someone, it’s fair game – just like the umbrella somebody stole off our front porch one fine day, but that’s another story.

I went to Ronnie Scott’s Upstairs after the play to catch a little jazz. I bought a lager and planted myself in a corner, by the piano, because there are no tables or chairs to sit at where the band plays. I always try to stand in this spot because it’s beside the piano, and surely nobody will stand right in front of me, blocking the band, with the piano player sitting right there. Wrong again. A nice threesome just walked right in front and stood there, blocking my view and cramping the piano player and chit-chatting away in loud voices while the band played its music. They must have thought, “Cool! We can stand right here. Nobody else in the building but us self-absorbed, inconsiderate assholes!”

I went to grab a bite after the show at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. I ordered the vegetarian fried rice and stir fried noodles with bean sprouts because this was one of my vegetarian days. The waiter came back with a noodle dish that had little meat-looking things in it. I asked the waiter what they were. He said “chicken.” I said, “But I ordered the vegetarian noodles” – Number 198 on the menu, fried noodles with bean sprouts. “No,” he said, “that dish has chicken in it.” “No,” I said, “it does not have chicken in it. Look at the menu.” He looked at the menu and found….the dish has no chicken in it! He made up some kind of excuse because God knows you can never just admit you’re wrong here in London, then he asked me if I wanted the vegetarian one. I was the only customer in the restaurant, and they were getting close to closing time – and in London, closing time is sacred – so I figured screw it, I’ll just eat the chicken one. They charged me the full price anyway because that’s just how London rolls.

I went to the subway (sorry, tube) after eating and got on the train. I planted myself in the corner, trying to stay away from as many people as possible. But some guy got on just ahead of the closing doors and planted himself right in front of me, where he commenced to wolf down some French fry (sorry, chip) and meat meal in a styrofoam container. Right there in my face, slurping it up in all its glory, even though he could have scooted over a couple feet and given us both plenty of room. I guess I had a grumpy look on my face by then because….

…..when I got off at my subway stop some young, deranged guy in a baseball cap and black jacket followed me out and came up to me on the platform and got up in my face and asked why I was looking at him like that. I had zero clue who this dude was. “Why you look at me like that?” he said. So I said, “What? I wasn’t looking at you. Chill out.” So he goes back toward the train but then does a 180 and comes back up to me and says, “Why you look at me like that?” And I say, “Are you fucking nuts? I wasn’t looking at you. You need to chill out, brother.” Then he shoves me and runs back to the train just as the doors are closing, but gets caught in the doors and starts trying to cram himself in, which was kind of comical in itself, watching him struggle with the doors, and he finally squeezes through and the train goes on its merry, jolly way. BTW, you dipshit: My 10-year-old daughter shoves harder than you do.

Just another night in the oh-so-proper, well-mannered and civilized part of the world…

Oh, and the play was fine. The British critics can bloody well go sod off.

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