Toilet paper and showers

Two key cultural differences between England and Australia:

1) a lot of people use this moistened, scented toilet tissue (sort of like Wet Ones, but friendlier) instead of toilet paper (or as well as – I haven’t really figured it out yet); and

2) people seem quite happy to not have or use showers. They bathe. Once a lovely novelty, this is becoming something of an Issue, especially after dancing.

Luggage report:

I do love backpacking, but I wish I could dump at least half my stuff. I am sick of carrying shoes and books, mostly. All I’ve actually brought with me are clothes, shoes (2 pair dance, 1 pair the ones I wore over, 1 stupid pair of wedding shoes, 1 pair useful slip-ons), including my new hiking boots and work stuff. I would like to ditch some of the books I’ve accumulated, but it seems a shame when I bought them so cheaply. Books are cheaper here than in Australia, especially second hand. And I like these books! Hoorah for Iain M. Banks. And Damn him for his verbosity.

I am carrying the heavy, 65 litre back pack, which rocks (esp as it has a little day pack attached), and my old backpack, which is most excellent. The big one was borrowed, and really isn’t up to my exacting standards. I am considering buying a new, good quality one when I get home. I also seem to cart around a shopping bag with either dirty laundry or grocery bits in it. I did buy some awesome teas in Wiltshire, but I left them at Anne’s. There are some good herbal teas here, especially the DR T
whatsit brand. I will hunt them down and import them ASAP.

It has been annoying to have to carry stuff that’s so single purpose: wedding clothes and shoes; day clothes; dance clothes. I wish they could all be one. Hurrump. Maybe next time. But while wide legged trousers are delish to dance in, they’re not so good for walking around a large city in. Not enough pockets, too much fabric.

Laundry report:

Washing machines are good. But tricky. I have managed to run the colour from some cheap socks they gave us on the plane (which are great for protecting my patent leather shoes) on to my pirate shirt, making it blue and black striped, rather than white and black.
Tumble driers are a fixed feature here, but they’re a bit scary when it comes to synthetic clothes. Some of my little dance shirts
well, most of my dance shirts
are synthetic, and while great for being not-gross to touch when I’m really sweaty, they go weirdo in the drier. Damn.
All this dancing is producing far too much laundry. Far too much one-wear-only, grotty, stinky laundry.
Urk.

i am in london now

and i’m staying with a lovely dancer. i saw a fun show with swingers in last night, and i’m off for my first bit of london lindy hop tonight. will i survive? go lungs, go.

marlborough jazz festival

i discovered the festival was on last week on about tuesday. so i mosied on into marlborough on friday night at about 6pm. paid £17 for a night of packed in jazz. the whole town was filled with music. all the pubs and cafes and most of the other shops and businesses had bands playing in their grounds, and my pass gave me entry into all of them. it was really great. i met nice people and saw some great bands. saw some shitty ones, too, but there you go.
the bestest band were the hot club of cowtown. western swing, but in an earlier, 30s vein. tres fab. i watched them for 2 hours, utterly spellbound, and could have gone home happy then. absolutely fantastical.
then i mosied over the road and happened to run into some dancers. i didn’t dance: the music didnt’ catch me. but then i wandered over to the town hall, where there was a little big band playing (sticky wickett’s little big band, to be precise). there were dancers there, so i hooked up with them and had a fair bit of a dance.
the band weren’t bad at all. but i was bloody wrecked: too unfit! my stupid cough is still with me (yes, it is my stupid cough now), and i’m so unfit. but i did have fun.

i caught a country cab home at 1am and had a nice lie-in before i caught the coach up to london.

shoe reportshoe report

a topic close to every dancer (and traveller)’s heart.

new hiking shoes: love them. only one rubbed heel the first day i wore them. otherwise, they rock. only problem: not at all, in any way, possible to dance in them. sigh.

dance shoes: think i wrecked the suede at the dance in marlborough on friday. stupid drinkers spilling on the dance floor.

i’d like to ditch at least one pair of shoes. my backpack is overstuffed.

i am actually still alive

i didn’t die in wales.

i’m in london now: i’m done with rural england, and into some big city action. i do have entries written for england, but i’ll have to upload them some time later… and many animal photos… sorry everyone.

London is

London is loud and busy and fast. People walk really quickly, avoid eye contact and don’t say thank you to bus drivers. I walk slowly, smile at strangers and say both hello and thank you to everyone. No doubt I will soon be taught A Lesson, and will cease and desist promptly. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen any time soon, huh? I’m ridiculously cheerful as well: hence the smiling and friendliness.

I’ve just spent three nights with David in Battersea, sleeping on a futon on the floor of his small flat’s lounge room, packing everything away when I get up in the morning. It was only yesterday that I realised he didn’t own a television. A good sign on my part, I feel. David is a swinger too, and a friend of Heidi, a Londoner who now lives in Melbourne.

I went dancing the last two nights, at Brooks in Hammersmith and then at the 100 Club at 100 (of course) Oxford Street. Brooks was very fun: a smaller, friendlier venue, where the music was all DJed and all swinging jazz. The dancers were friendly, and I scored many excellent dancers with no knock-backs, including some totally excellent ones with a lovely French bloke called Francois. I am reminded of Lotte’s comments that Tooolooos boys are wooonderful dancers.

The 100 Club was less excellent, though I did dance like a nut til way too late. There was a band who didn’t really swing, but who were fun, and some DJed music between the sets. There was a more mixed crowd: jazz nicks and non-dancers as well as lindy hoppers and jivers. Jive is very popular here, and has much in common with rock n roll. I think I offended one (rather strange) bloke when I declared my absolute nuh-don’t-do-it when he said ‘Do you do jive? Surely you do west coast?’ All for the best I think. I’m not having no truck with that sort of goings-on.

The 100 Club dancers were less friendly than the Brooks, even though some of them were the same. There was a larger contingent of hardcore vintage people, and not the friendly, big drinking vintage types I’m familiar with. These were hardcore, and way over on the wanky side, with one being of the opinion that Big Pants were an embarrassment to lindy hop and shouldn’t be allowed. The same bloke also believed that white savoy dancers were trying to be something they couldn’t ever be, and that all lindy hop should be danced to 1930s swinging jazz whilst wearing vintage clothing. He did make some exception for reproduction vintage wear, but only on concession.
I wasn’t having any of that rubbish, and despite my 1) hanging merciless shit on his ideas and saying ‘oh, aren’t you a bitch!’; 2) stating that I completely disagreed with him and that I personally would much rather people just danced, no matter what they were wearing; 3) that I, personally couldn’t be arsed wearing vintage all the time, and really rather preferred the Big Pants approach to lindy; 4) and that really, we’d just have to agree to disagree, he still stalked me around the dance floor, demanding dances, holding me far too close and declaring that I was ‘really not a bad a dancer’ and that he liked dancing with me. All this and he was quite proud of the fact that he’d never done any classes, and that his was an ‘original’ and unique style. Pft. I fled, dancing with the fun chick he’d refused dance invitations from on multiple occasions because she was ‘a crap dancer’. I’d have liked to have pointed out that he was also a crap dancer, but that I was quite wil
ling to dance with him, just because 1) it’s polite; and 2) dancing is fun. But I felt that it was best to just let it go.

I am half considering dancing again tonight, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m quite tired, and traveling home across London on public transport so late at night is a bit intimidating. Even for this brave Queen of the Tube.

Now I’m staying with another lovely friend of Heidi’s, another dancer (lapsed), who lives in Crickelwood, in a very lovely, large house with two children, her partner and a very nice cat whose name I don’t know. I am back on the antihistamines. There is also an au paire called Christiane, who is also nice, and Lithuanian. I am bound to trip over Lithuanians wherever I am, I think. Eva is Hungarian, and speaks Hungarian with her children. I am collecting European dance people: Estonia, Nederlands, Lithuania, Germany, France, etc.

Tomorrow I am determined to make it in to the Tate Modern and the Globe Theater. Last two days I’ve been rising late, and then wandering around Battersea, or in to Covent Garden to lust over all the nice Things. I am bound for a few art galleries, now. There’s an exhibition of some French photographer at a gallery on the south bank, an exhibition of art from ‘Tolstoy’s era’ somewhere else and much else for me to chase. This will be an Arty trip to London, I think.
Eeeexcellent.
It seems a shame to come to such a fascinating city only to dance. And really, dancing is the same everywhere, I think. Same culture, same traditions and models of behaviour. I am enjoying the exercise, but really, I’m almost Done. Having said that, there is social dancing on tonight, Wednesday and Friday nights. Friday is a special dance run by a Hollywood couple. Can I manage a dance and then up at 5am? We shall see.

I am staying with Eva til Friday at least. I will consult the travel options and if it’s easier and quicker to get from David’s to Heathrow I’ll stay there Friday night. If not, I’ll stay with Eva again. Decisions, decisions.

I fly out on Saturday from Heathrow at 7:30am. So I need to be there at 6:30am. That means sorting transport and leaving by 5:30 at least.

I have taken no photos: it is too dark in dance venues, and I’ve just not thought of it outside. I will try to do better over the next few days.

itineray

until the 4th i’ll be here in wales. then i’m down to england to visit english family.
then i go to london on the 11th, where i’ll hassle london swingers.
then i’m out to herrang on the 17th.
back to england on the 29th for camp savoy, then i fly out on the 3rd of august, to arrive on the 4th.
all done.