A Weekend in Liverpool

~LIVERPOOL, England: 28/11/09, 10:00pm.

[edit: I fail to mention that the first thing we see in Liverpool is a man covered in blood, walking down Leece Street like he has no idea why we’re staring at him. He looks at us, smiles, and says “Uh. Fuckin’ birds!” when a pigeon flies in Gam’s face. Another man across the street is screaming about chickens.]

Sitting in my hostel room with three French(?) girls and a German(?) dude who just surprised them by asking them if they were done with the bathroom in French. They had a mini conversation, like “Oh! How do you know French?” “sabuh-dah…” And then he had a serious conversational fail.
1) He said “Euh… et… le ‘same thing?’ ” LA MEME CHOSE.
2) He said “Et qu’est-ce que vous faites dans la nuit?”
Thus I revealed the extent of my French by nearly falling off of my bed, laughing. Instead of innocently asking them what they planned to go out and do that evening, it was basically the equivalent of asking them if they’re prostitutes for hire. The French girls knew what he meant, but they informed him of his grievous error in conduct.
What is it you do during the night? versus what are you doing tonight?

We got better acquainted and talked about Paris after I blew my poker face. When I told them I had stayed in Barbès-Rochechouart three weeks ago, their jaws dropped in amazement that I’m still alive. (I TOLD you Friends Hostel was a shithole!) And then the conversation was over and they switched to talking in Spanish.

Before that, I had walked into the room across the hall, which was filled with drunken Irish men who insisted I must be Danish because of my bone structure. Then they tried to offer me a billion drinks and I sprinted back to my room because a boy named Dave tried to stick his hand in my butt. (What is it with the Irish?! My first day in Dublin, a guy purposely shoved his umbrella into my buttcrack!) / (I’ve never met so many guys named Dave!) I doubt it’s any safer in here with my hostel-mates, but at least they won’t be sticking their hands anywhere.

John(?) from Cherry Hill/Pennsylvania, a biophysics major studying abroad in Leeds, sat down on the bed next to me and just taught me how to adjust the shutter speed on my DSLR. Interesting people you meet. He tried pretty hard to get me to go back out into the world with him and his mates (the German guy– Sebastian– and two Spaniards: Sergio and Alberto.) John left his Canon DSLR just sitting out on his bed. I told him that was a stupid idea, but he said he trusted all of us. Here I am, sleeping with my purse next to my face.

But anyway, I didn’t mean to start in medias res. I ended up alone for the evening in the hostel and denying 3+ separate opportunites to hang out with strangers because I felt like crapola. For a moment, I seriously thought I might’ve been developing swine flu. I even called my mom to check.

The run down: We woke up at 330am and left New Cross around 430am in order to get to Euston Rail Station for our 605am train. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but we were leaving so early, the tubes weren’t open yet. Gam and I both wrote down bus directions, but I forgot something and the buses were running so infrequently that we basically walked/ran from Tottenham Court Road to Warren Street Station. DUH. I was irritable at myself and everyone I was with.
The train to Stafford was alright, I guess. There was a man on the train who REALLY needed a tissue. I could hear him sucking up his mucus every 10 seconds even through my headphones.
We had less than 2 minutes to find the train from Stafford to Liverpool Lime Street and I wanted to murder everyone for being so American. I also wished Chris was there so I could make sourpuss faces at him.

Our first thought about Liverpool was “HOLY CHRIST AMONGST MEN, IT IS COLD.” The weather got worse throughout the day, as it tends to do when we’re out on vacation. We got there a little before 9am and walked to our hostel. We thought it was a nice place, until we saw the stains on the linen… Between blood, pee, and sweat, we half-expected the infamous Doodoo Bandit to show up and trash the place.

Daria, Andy, Gam, and I hung out for two hours alone in the room until noon, when we took a BEATLES TOUR. Called the “Fab Four Taxi Tour,” we had our own personal tour guide who was also our black cab driver. He took us to places like: John’s birthplace, his university, Ringo’s “soap opera” neighbourhood, Paul’s house and the caretaker who looks like him, George’s house, Eppy’s birthplace/party flat, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and this church that had Eleanor Rigby’s grave, etc. So cool. [edit: I’m pretty sure we had THE BEST cab driver out of the whole lot, now that I’ve looked at the whole list on their website.]
What was not cool was the incessant change in temperature: in the cab, out of the cab, minimal warmth, freezing wet toes, no gloves. Daria and I had to pee. I started feeling feverish by the time the tour ended at 330pm and I just deteriorated every hour.
Danny, the cab driver, dropped us off at The Cavern Club and we watched a live cover band of kids my age. The Grace: http://www.myspace.com/thegraceonline They had an… interesting… interpretation of The Beatles’ “Taxman”, but I really loved their cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”

Ah! Another two invitations to go out! The German guy, Sebastian, let me stay but a Spaniard (Sergio?) pulled me out of bed and dragged me to the door, despite my lack of shoes. When I feinted getting ready/looking for my shoes and he realised I wasn’t coming, he gave me what an American would interpret as the “I love you” symbol. Apparently it means something QUITE different in Spain. [edit: difficult to interpret, but I guess his gesture at me implied I am Satan’s whore.]

After Danny dropped us off at The Cavern Club with little idea how to get back, we wandered into some pub with INSANELY cheap food. It was next to the holiday skating rink, for future reference. I ate some crappy lasagne, even though I wasn’t hungry. I felt stupid, because when Andy and Gam asked me what was wrong, my voice quavered and I almost burst into tears. I wanted to crawl into my too-small bed in Spotswood and have my mom make chicken soup, listening to terrible TV shows in the kitchen while my dad yells at someone on the phone about gun parts.
To be funny, I ate all of Gam’s peas. The effect wasn’t very funny.

We wandered back to the hostel even though we felt like we were back in Amsterdam (a feeling I simply cannot describe.) All of us took an hour-long nap around 6 because we felt like death and we were all laughed-out over the “Doodoo Bandit” and his work on the duvets.
We went back out– after much effort and many complaints about the cold– to a pub at the corner of the street called The Flute. It was also a throwback to Amsterdam, with the lighting and couches and open space and circles of people doing their thing. I was delirious by the point. The bartendress told me bluntly she “didn’t have time for my questions,” which made her the ONLY person in the ENTIRETY of Liverpool who was less than cheerful and welcoming and fantastic.
We left The Flute around 10pm in search of more interesting pubs/night life, but I came back here and tried not to die. Here I am. It’s not 12:20am and no one in this room is content to leave me alone.

~LIVERPOOL, England: 29/11/09

I woke up, well-rested and alive, at 10am. We were downstairs by a little after 11am. Because we were lazy and the other three were in various states of their hangovers, we ate at the cafe attached to the hostel/hotel.
Something compelled me to order a vegetarian English breakfast, and now I’m seriously considering reverting back to vegetarianism for health reasons.
The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” was playing in the cafe and I nearly spit out my toast. I frenetically bobbed along to the music, paralleled by the cafe-worker, a bespectacled guy in plaid who looks like he could be from Williamsburg, or a member of Grizzly Bear, to be more accurate. We caught eyes mid-bop and exchanged a little courtesy nod in honour of Morrissey.

Sebastian wound up talking to me until 2am about everything and nothing. After initially offering me a cookie (IT WAS A TARWEBISCUIT!!!) we fell into discussions about different education systems and the class structure of Germany. He asked me about my honest traveller’s opinion of the world (London in particular) and he told me about his town in Germany. We also sat around and talked with the French girls, sabuh-dah, who were actually only 2/3 French. Cristina was from Spain, but Clemence and ____ were French, renting a flat in Paris.
(Funny story: They told me my French was really good. They were FASCINATED that I was American and that I was capable of speaking a different language. They admitted how mean that was, but it made me feel awesome. The three of them kept inviting me into the kitchen to share a bottle of wine with them, and they wouldn’t leave me alone until I told them off in French. MERCI, MAIS JE RESTERAI DANS MON LIT POUR LA NUIT. They applauded.)  

I said goodbye to Sebastian and his friends three separate times at this point. Before he left the room the first time, he chucked a packet of Trolli Sour Glowworms (from Germany!) at my head. Maybe that’s a token of dour German regard, where he comes from.
It got me to thinking about Tidmarsh’s lessons during Shakespeare’s London, which made me miss Chris again. Jung’s coniunctio and fusion between individuals and all that cal. It was bizarre and wordly and true.

After walking around Albert Dock, we saw them AGAIN. Sebastian, John, Sergio and Alberto were sitting in the window of a restaurant. So grand total, we said goodbye to them 5 separate times around Liverpool.
Our group shuffled into a giftshop on the docks to get out of the rain, and the radio played a “new” Death Cab for Cutie song. I felt so acutely uncomfortable for not knowing it, which led me to ponder on exactly how long I’ve been away from the United States.

Albert Dock is the perfect place to meditate on your sorrows, we think. We stood over the water and fell silent. That’s how sombre it is. We cheered up by paying 5 pounds to ride Liverpool’s ferris wheel. Much like London has the London Eye, Liverpool has The Big Wheel.
Everything about it was retarded, in the most accurate sense of the word.
It was so incredibly stupid that it was actually worthy of 5 quid.

Lunch at Gourmet Burger Kitchen was no big affair. (Home of the MOST GORGEOUS BURGER.) The waitress gave us horribly wrong directions to get to The Jacaranda, which is this pub that John and Paul used to work in, so we hopped in a cab. Love how cheap the cabs are.

Jacaranda was cool. Someone selected Morrissey’s “Panic” on the jukebox and I nearly crapped myself –> fulfilled one of my bucket list wishes.
Jacaranda is also where I got married.

Just as I was discussing with Andy about how all these guys spend their days by going to work, coming home, and farting around a pub to shout at each other, these four guys come over and start talking to us. It’s only 530pm and they’re completely pissed. We didn’t really get their names, but they got our first names and continually asked why in hell we Americans were in Liverpool. Did they forget about the tourist lure of the Beatles? Probably. Duh. One guy, the nicest and most gentle, looked like Dave Foley. Another looked like he could be George Lopez’s cousin gone to seed. One guy was as rowdy as a five-year old boy who just got a new action figure and kept giving people high fives. And then my FIANCE was a larger balding gent who stole a ring off of a girl’s finger in order to propose to me.
This was all so incredibly hilarious and unreal that I had to immortalise it by calling my parents. I’m POSITIVE they were alarmed by the voicemail they left, but I prefaced it with “Please don’t be offended.” I hoped they saved it, because I could barely what they were shouting into my phone.
The rowdy guy bonked Gam on the forehead once (hilarious) and kept up with the high fives after everything he said. He tried to shake my hand when I said something brilliant and instead, I did the swipe-my-hand-over-my-hair move like those cool people do, and it was like I had just invented it, by the response those guys gave me. I felt like a million cool bucks and a number ten on the cool scale.
The Dave Foley look-alike told me that my fiance, who’s name is something like Mark McCally, is actually proposing to his girlfriend on Christmas Day this year and he wanted to get in a bit of practice.
Mark got down on his knee in the middle of the bar and presented me with the gaudiest blue piece of costume crap I’ve ever seen, but I did my duty with a perfunctory knod and a squeak. Everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing to stare at us. You should see the pictures Daria took on my camera.
What I was not expecting was when he picked me up and twirled me around in the air. Touching was limited to that, thank goodness, or there would’ve been a serious problem between our two parties.
When we said goodbye to these fellows, the mood shifted from conviviality to sobriety in less within 15 seconds. They clapped us on the arms and gave us each a kiss on the cheek (I got enchanté kisses on my hand instead, like a proper lady.) They wished us a safe journey to wherever we call home, and hoped we’d remember them all fondly.

The train station was freezing cold again, so we spent the hour waiting in the only enclosed space in the vicinity, which was a pub. Naturally. Things of note about our time spent in the pub: 1) Another drunken Irishman tried to cozy up to us, but split when Andy came back from the ATM. 2) One of the bartenders selected Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?” on the jukebox and I literally did not know what to do with myself. This would’ve been on my bucket list if I could’ve even considered it as a possibility.
It was outrageous. I was so happy.

Train back to London Euston was boiling hot. Andy and Daria wrote the first two scenes of a play and performed it for us. I passed out. Getting back to New Cross is always really GLLAIGHT** when we come back from a trip. Hot showers and dry socks.

———————————————————————————-
Overall, Liverpool is probably worth another trip, if I had a different group of people to go with (ie- my parents.) They’d love to see all of the Beatles junk, plus it’s a completely underrated tourist location. The people are all out-of-this-world friendly and it’s the cheapest city I’ve been to in Europe thus far.
Plus, the accents are the best. Since yesterday, we’ve been yelling “GREAT” at each other in the Liverpudlian accent (which has a Welsh twang to it), so our GREAT would phonetically be spelled as “G-L-L-A-I-G-H-T” **
GLLAIGHT. gll8.
IT WUZZA GLLAIGHT RECORD, YEA?
The end every sentence with “yea?”
So now we end every sentence with “yea?”

Today I felt like crap again, and my politics seminars were made exceptionally difficult.
I somehow- somehow– thought this could be cured by eating Iceland fishcakes and Thai chilli pickles. I was wrong. There is NOTHING more masochistic than eating my Thai chilli pickles. I was actually crying and yelling when I made them last week, they’re so spicy. I could never get chillis like that at home, much less from a screaming Cockney vendor off of the street. Brilliant. Another thing to miss.

GLLAIGHT BLOG POST.

Advertisements

Come on home…

…The poppies all are grown knee-deep by now.

I got to see a free West End show tonight. Daria texted me that her class had 3 extra tickets for War Horse, so I grabbed one and we all got to the Drury Lane theatre on time.

Act one was exceptional. Character exposition was okay, but I was so impressed with the horse puppets. (Each puppet took three people to control, and you could ride on them too.) I can’t imagine how long it took to block the play or how many times they had to perfect the movements and tics of the horses.
One of the characters was blown off his horse by a “mortar shell” at the end of act one, and I loved the way it was done: a flash, blackout, and then you see him backflip off of the horse, aided by a four-person lift. 

For a minimalistic play, it was well done.
war-horse

Act two had a bit of unnecessary drama in it, but I can understand why: to wrap up the “heartfelt story part” of the play and make trench warfare a little more realistic. It was mostly climax and then no denouement, which left the Goldsmiths kids feeling bored. To really appreciate the play, it had to be viewed on at least three different levels: historical, theatrical entertainment, and the technical employment of the puppets/body language of the characters. (You gradually forgot that the horses were being controlled by 3 people. Those guys deserve an award– they had the toughest job of anyone on stage.)

The stage itself was unusually wide, and all black with a large horizontal ripped screen of white paper, which projected the countryside on it. Alternately, it showed the war charges or other extraneous information. I guess you could say the ripped paper representated a pure thing that can never be made whole again. You could say that.
Horse puppets, I already talked about. Loved ’em. During one part of act two, they brought on their interpretation of a tank which must’ve taken at least 6 people to manipulate. Very cool.
war horse

It really made me appreciate WWI like nothing else ever has before. (History Channel, my father, history classes, etc.) WWII wasn’t the only war ever fought that was atrocious, you know. WWI’s where everything changed. Try picturing riding a horse into a wall of machine guns, tear gas, and mortar rounds, armed only with a sabre and 140 rounds on a shitty rifle. And those who didn’t die came back like ghosts. 

Someone in our party said they felt no emotional connexions to the characters; you really had to forge ahead and make your own rather than have it shoved in your face, particularly in act one. Act two had more opportunity to connect, but it might’ve been too comical to take seriously.
Music was okay although, again, someone said it was too dramatic. He compared it to Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings. I disagree. A lot of the music were war marches from WWI.
Also, it was neat that part of the play was in three different languages and I understand all of the French and German. Yeah, I’m proud. Deal with it.

People around me kept hacking and sneezing and it made me want to puke. Completely distracting when I’m trying to watch this play. Both of the girls next to me kept coughing wetly in my direction when they weren’t twirling their hair or talking about what they ate for lunch or how hot the room was.
It was distracting and it was rude. A large group of disinterested young people. They’re the ones who have to discuss the play in their class. I kind of want to go back and see it again.

Overall, I left the theatre feeling enlightened, alarmed and disturbed at the general lack of intelligence in my age group, and more than a little disgusted at how many germs were coating my body.
I was pissed off by how bored the girls next to me were, and everyone’s general agreement that it was “ok” and not “important.” Then I was pissed at myself for feeling the need to be the devil’s advocate for this play.

To make matters worse, I experienced trouble with my Oyster cards in Holborn, so I assumed people went on without me and I set out by myself, relieved. I understand I was being irritable, but I couldn’t take another minute of farting around with 1) people I’ve spent the last twelve days with or 2) the girls who kept coughing on me / being baselessly judgemental.

“Why are people partying more than usual today?”
“Oh, it’s that veterans day… What they were talking about in the theatre before.”

ARMISTICE.
Idiots. Jesus Christ.

During the curtain call, all of the actors came out wearing their poppies in support of the British legion. This was a little disorienting, as I remembered the poppies from French Canada referring to secession.

I am so tired of being a part of a group.
I need serious alone time.
However, blogging about my Euro-trip is not on my agenda.