Instagram

Greg, if you are reading this please stop here and don’t read the rest of the post. Actually if you are anyone who works with me please skip this blog. Look, if you know me in a work capacity just go and look at this picture of a puppy doing yoga instead.

Ok now that they have all gone, let me tell you how utterly stupid I’ve been recently.

I am a stupidly responsible person, I am uptight over most things but in particular being safe and looking after my possessions are my top two. Call it being single and having to get myself from A to B – I am accountable for my entire being. But no matter where this high level of responsibility comes from…I am the one you can give your handbag to when you go for a smoke.

So this is the awkward part…

I don’t know what the hell has happened to me recently, but I have left my work laptop in not one…but two bars in London. You can see why I told Greg the IT guy at work to stop reading, he would have a heart attack if he knew poor lamb.

The first incident was actually at a work function where we all went to learn how to make sushi. I got rather merry and wielded a knife with such artistry that I was named Queen of Sushi. Well, not quite but my sushi was judged the best out of the thirty or so people who were there and I won a sushi making kit.

My plan had been to head home for an early night but after my win the glory and the rice just went to my head. I ended up at an underground cocktail club necking gin and it wasn’t until I got home that with a sinking feeling I realised I didn’t have my laptop. Thankfully the sushi teacher had found it under a table and I was able to make a mad dash to collect it at lunchtime the next day.

I thought I had learned my lesson, I thought this was a once in 28years experience and it had scared me straight. I would never again lose my laptop (particularly not my work one) and I would return to my former responsible self.

And I did, for five whole weeks I did and then came the gin.

I was at the City of London Distillery which is one of my old haunts (it was the bar I went to for after work drinks when I was at my first London job). I made the rookie error of putting my handbag on the floor on one side of me, and my laptop on the floor on the other side of me. Two gins down I happily went on my way to meet a friend for dinner in Shoreditch.

It wasn’t till 1am that night when I sat bolt upright in bed realising I had once again left my laptop in a damn bar. Simple right? I could go and collect it the next day right? Haha what about me makes you think it would be that simple.

I realised the lack of laptop at 1am Saturday morning. I was flying out to Sweden for work on Sunday (where I would seriously need my laptop). The bar was closed on Sundays so Saturday was going to be my only time to pick it up, but two major problems…

  1. This is London and there was a high chance someone would just have walked off with it
  2. I was going to see both parts of Cursed Child (the Harry Potter play) on Saturday….and the only times the bar was open was when the play was on

I didn’t really sleep for the rest of the night, with the choice of missing the Harry Potter play or Greg being disappointed in me going round and round in my head.

From first thing Saturday morning it was a military style campaign of me ringing the bar every ten minutes to see if someone had handed it in. Turns out bars are not open first thing on a Saturday morning. I managed to get through to the bar at lunchtime just before leaving for part 1 of the play; after I ashamedly confirmed that my laptop was a Dell with an Apple sticker on it (don’t ask), they said they had found it!

First problem ticked off. But also who would have thought you could leave a laptop twice in London and people would hand it in?

Anyway the second problem had me running out of the doors at the end of Part 1 and flagging down a cab. Jumping in and shouting ‘Fleet Street’ at the driver is perhaps the most London I have ever felt. I made it to the bar and the lovely bar tender handed me my laptop with one hand and a G&T with the other (I think I was looking slightly harried). Fuelled by the power of gin I made it back to Harry in time for part 2 and to Sweden in time for work on Monday.

Moral of the story: think twice before leaving me with your handbag…maybe staple it to me somehow.

I don’t think I have ever told this story on my blog, the story of the first time I lived in London. I was 18, loved a good headband and was ready(?) to go to the other side of the world for a semester abroad. Questionable fashion choices aside it was a life changing experience driven purely by sisterly one-upmanship (I was a horrible little sister!). The exchange lead to me vowing I would never again live in London because it was such a terrible and boring place – clearly I shouldn’t vow things quite so often.

I have to back track quite far for the start of this journey, back to high school. My sister is three years older than me and when she was in university she investigated doing an exchange (to America I think?) but decided not to go in the end. It was a completely rational call but to my jealous 16 year old brain saw this as a cop-out, and I vowed that when I was in University I would go further than my sister and actually go on an exchange. Little sisters are just the best. Fast forward to my first year of a double degree and I had backed myself into a corner, I had no option but to start filling out the forms to apply for my exchange.

There were so many thinks I was particular about (I think I was wanting one to fall through so I didn’t have to go). I wanted to go to the university closest to London (ironically it was in Kingston-upon-Thames which is where my parents lived during their OE in the 70’s), I only wanted to go for six months and I categorically did not want to stay with a host family. I was so afraid of ending up having to stay in the spare room of some real life British people that I applied for university halls before I had even submitted my exchange application (I ended up being the only exchange student to get a place in halls thanks to my eagerness).

I almost backed out so many times. I realise that I should have just been grateful at this amazing opportunity, which I was analytically but emotionally I was a wreck. Moving to the other side of the world terrified me, I am such a control freak homebody that London was the opposite of what felt right to me. But, but… I had vowed that I would not be my sister, I would go ahead with the exchange. So I did. It was my first flight by myself, first time living away from home, first time managing money by myself, first time making new friends since primary school. It was fucking scary.

When I arrived in Kingston after a 30 hour journey I discovered that the Middle Mills halls where I would be living was more like flats rather than dorms, my one was 8 bedrooms with a large shared kitchen and two bathrooms. I looked to the reception guy to make me feel at home or give me any words of encouragement at all, but he was a tired uni student who probably had an essay due. He showed me to my room, gestured over to the other side of the car-park “that’s where the washing machines are”, warned me about the fine for setting the fire alarm off and then left me to it.

My room looked like a cell. It was freezing outside. I had gone from my nice house and parents who brought me gin on demand to sharing with 6 strange boys and one girl. The bathroom didn’t have any toilet paper in it. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I needed a shower as first priority but I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the light or make the water hot, a cold shower in the dark felt appropriate given how I was feeling about the move in that moment.

After my shower I was doing my best to unpack through the jetlag when I heard a knock on my heavy duty, automatically closing,  fire proof bedroom door. It was the only other girl in the flat, Jenny, who just so happened to have the room across from mine. I kid you not it was like my guardian angel was there to greet me.

I think she was just happy that another girl had moved in (let me tell you, living with 6 guys in their late teens is…interesting), but for me it was a ray of hope that everything was going to be ok. She had put aside half of the dinner she made just in case I arrived hungry that night, gave me a spare roll of toilet paper and offered to show me where the supermarket was the next day. I still didn’t know if I had made the right decision moving to London, but at least I had made my first friend.

This post has been slightly longer than intended, so I am going to leave off here and create a part two featuring my first adventure to the pub, bring stalked by foxes and lectures.

By now I hope you have seen the Life in the UK test I did for you based on the actual study guide (if you haven’t you can take it here). Today however, today I bring you something special. Something a little more ‘me’. I bring you the official Runawaykiwi Life in the UK test, the one that we should actually do to test peoples knowledge of the UK.

Watch the video below and then the answers can be found if you scroll down further. DON’T CHEAT, because cheating is for not-British people. Just like the real test you have to get 75% right to stay in the country, let me know how you do by commenting or tweeting me.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. They mean “Hello”…this is not an actual question, they really don’t care how you are.
  2. Underwear
  3. The French
  4. The English
  5. No one, the Welsh just want to be loved
  6. Every house puts the kettle on
  7. EVERYONE
  8. Horse
  9. Never, you must ask this at all times
  10. 2013 = Bear and the Hare, 2014 = Monty the Penguin, 2015 = Man in the moon, 2016 = Buster the Boxer
  11. You can’t
  12. No top sheet, they go straight from the fitted sheet to the duvet
  13. Cake for tax reasons
  14. Whenever the sun comes out
  15. Rage silently at them and hope someone else tells them to be quiet
  16. On the pavement outside
  17. Grey, always grey
  18. We are now the knights who say ekki-ekki-ekki-pitang-zoom-boing
  19. I hope we never see each other again, in fact I am leaving the country just to avoid ever running into you.
  20. David Attenborough
  21. The weather
  22. You end up at a kabab shop
  23. The Queen
  24. Very good

My first experience with London’s West End was a guy in a top hat yelling at me in Leicester Square. He wasn’t an actor or a promoter, he was my flat mate who in that moment was entirely outraged and horrified by me. I was living in a university flat at Kingston University where there were 6 boys and two girls; co-habiting with strangers went surprisingly smoothly apart from the time one of the boys at my cheese and this top hat yelling incident.

Three of us flatmates had taken the train into London for the day to go and see a show. We were relying on the cheap ticket sellers in the middle of Leicester Square because after spending £12 on train tickets to get into the city, not much was left in our student budgets. We stood in line trying to be cool, but actually just ending up cold, while wondering what show we would end up seeing. When we got to the front rather than asking for a particular show or genre we were those students who through fake smiles asked ‘what is the cheapest ticket?’

This is about the time my flatmate in the top hat started to get twitchy. As we continued to debate if the £25 ticket was the cheapest they had today the top hat was looking less and less jolly. We decided to walk away from those tickets, £25 being more than our student budgets could afford on top of the train ticket we had already purchased. We only got a few feet away before the top hat went off. He just could not believe we considered the tickets too expensive considering what went into producing one of these shows, the magic and the mastery of it. We blinked at him a few times and then went to Cafe Nero for a hot chocolate.

Cut to a few years later when I was actually living in London (after vowing to never live in such a boring city) and I had a day off work. I was equally skint even though I was now a fully employed adult and the reason I had annual leave to take a random day off work is because I couldn’t afford a holiday, so decided the art at the National Gallery was the next best thing. I was wondering through Leicester square when I came across that same ticket counter, on a whim I stopped by and again asked what the cheapest ticket was. This time, I could stretch the £18 for Spamalot that started in five minutes.

My god it was a magical experience. Sitting in a theatre in the West End is enough to make you feel like royalty, to transport you, and that is before the show has even started. I grew up on Monty Python (shout out to my 7th form Art Design class who ran a Monty Python based anarchy) and this show was better than this fan girl could have imagined. I kept looking around during the show, trying to catch someone’s eye just to see if they were enjoying it as much as I did. I still have some of the confetti that they shoot out at the end of the show, just to keep the performance alive.

I’ve never forgotten that power. Going to a show is still my go-to whenever I am having an ‘I hate London’ day. It is something that you would never be able to experience in New Zealand, even if we get a touring company once a year it just is not the same. And of course I have now figured out that if you book in advance you can get tickets for as low as £12.

If you are on the fence about London at the moment, or just need a little magic in your life, please go and book a show. It will fill you up with wonder.

P.s. the top hat? He was a performing arts student…

 

This post is in collaboration with http://www.boxoffice.co.uk/