On Saturday, the Two Crabs hosted their first dinner party ever in London. More than 30 people representing a half-dozen countries turned out for our event: a proper American barbecue. It was hilarious to see how excited folks were to taste a REAL hamburger cooked on a REAL charcoal grill. And these weren't frozen, hockey puck patties from Sainsbury's (UK's largest grocery store chain). We made real burgers from pure ground British beef, seasoned with parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and diced onions. YUM. One of Pineapple Princess' friends screamed with joy at tasting a burger with chedder cheese slices, and even moreso at having her burger served to her on a paper plate! And all served with a side of veggies and Liptons onion dip and SAM ADAMS beer.
Before we moved to London, I had heard nightmare stories about how the British were not very hospital. A colleague of mine bemoaned abut the fact that she was NEVER invited into a British home during the entire three years she lived in London.
Now it's true that the British, although friendly, can sometimes be a tough nut to crack when it comes to anything personal. For example, there are a group of gents who we often chat with over pints at our "local" (slang for one's favorite local pub). We saw these guys once, sometimes two or three times a week. Yet during the first year of living in London, we never learned anything exceptionally personal about these guys. It's amazing how British can chat in pubs for hours without revealing anything personal. The conversation usually is steered towards safe territory such as the weather, sports, London life, world events, how much they hate President George W. Bush, etc. It wasn't until our 13th month in London that these folks finally started to really open up about their personal life and discuss their family, partners, careers, past indiscretions, etc.! It's almost as if people did not really want to get personal until they knew you were going to be here longer than just a few weeks or months. Once we made a committment to stay in England, folks started to REALLY warm up to us "Colonials."
Now, we're friends with our neighbors in the flat above us. We know the names of all the shopkeepers and bartenders at our favorite estabishments, and they know us. Even the butcher knows me by name! The "toilet paper man," so called because he runs a toiletry stall at the outdoor Chapel Market in Islington, knows us well from our frequent trips to the Kings Head pub. It's taken a long time to reach this point. But I finally feel at home here in Angel, and London as a whole.
Last night we went to the Globe Theatre on the South Bank to watch William Shakespeare's "A Comedy of Errors." BEST Shakespare we've ever seen, even though we had to stand for the entire performance in the brisk autumn evening, just like the original Globe. After the show we walked hand-in-hand along the cobblestone alleyways on the South Bank towards London Bridge, and as I looked out across the Thames River to St. Paul's Cathedral, it suddenly dawned on me: "Holy crap, we live in FRACKIN' LONDON!"
14 Months and counting...
Above photo: Fun with Macbook Photobooth