Thursday, August 23

Overwhelmed by English


It is raining and I've been walking 'round London--traversing the underground wearing my soft pink jacket and carrying the big blue rucksack. Mid-jaunt I spun my iPod through two scratchy-sweet melodic records by Appleseed Cast: Two Conversations and Peregrine. Somehow it seems that drenched urban landscapes should have driving, percussive soundtracks supporting them in the distance. (I'm not certain if "percussive" is really a word, but I'm drum rolling it out now.)

I find it strange how the London underground and train systems tend to overwhelm me. I've navigated myself through buses and trains from Italy to Germany to Lithuania, even. But there's something unsettling about seeing signs in your native English, and still being a bit confused. I remember feeling like this while in the guts of Brooklyn, too.

Maybe I feel more free to be me in the bellies of cities where I don't necessarily speak their tongues, exactly because I expect to make some mistakes there. In those places I leave more grace for my feet. But in London, it's different. I've been to this city enough times that I feel I ought to understand its underbellies and trains. And it's all in English! But I still always feel a bit lost here.

The information lady at Liverpool Street station said that my train ticket out to Guildford counted for the tube, as well. I trusted her, especially when they let me through the tube turnstiles on that ticket. But after six stops on the Circle line, and then one stop on the Jubilee line (I almost took a photo of that nice sign), I was stopped at the exit. The underground ticket-check-man very nearly hit me with penalty fares for not having the proper ticket. Oh dear.

"If it were anyone else, you'd have to pay penalties, you know," he said, reluctantly, after assuring him that Liverpool lady had given me some misinformation. Penalty fares in pound sterling are a scary thing to an American girl. It's almost two dollars per pound now, yikes.

Everyday Grace, how sweet the sound!

(Liverpool Tube Photo by Loukreu)

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