Archive | November, 2009

A British house party

29 Nov
Co-op party

NOTE: This is not an image from last night's party.

The best part of going out on weekends is not knowing where to go. In fact, I try to avoid over-planning stuff because in the end nothing goes the way I expect it. Such is the case last night when I went out with my flatmate and a couple of his friends. It was some friend’s birthday, so we headed to Green Park first to start off the night. Too bad we came late for drinks, so the birthday girl wanted to go to her friend’s place in Acton. You know what that means–house party!

Since I’ve landed in this sceptered isle, my fun has been limited to pub nights and mediocre club, but I have yet to enter the world of the British house party. Though it took us ages against torrential rain to get there, it was interesting journey getting there. I didn’t really have anything cool to wear apart from my H&M coat, but the fact that I wore my hoodie as well just ruined the style.

Despite dressing like crap, it was one of those house parties where everyone seemed chill and the venue was just cozy and quite spacious (for British standards). Not everybody was chill, though. As me and my mates were putting our coats in the closet, some bitch thought it would just be welcoming to act like, well, a bitch. Such is a welcome. Otherwise, it was easy to start a conversation with most of the people there, and I didn’t feel much pretentiousness coming from the partygoers. On the other hand, some were too friendly. A thirtysomething woman caressed me for a few minutes as I introduced myself, but I managed to escape her clutches once she introduced me to her husband. Why the hell were you touching me then?

The thing that seemed to peeve me was why certain people, after a few drinks, end up talking about politics. Since I was the only American at the party, some people always like to bring up social issues, especially issues relating to the USA. I always seem to wonder why every time I have a conversation with someone in this country (particularly guys) needs to bring politics in the conversation. It’s fascinating, but I go to parties to banter, not talk about who’d make a great Prime Minister next year.

After two cans of Stella, it was time to go for all of us. But after going to this house party, I wonder if I’m getting old for this. Perhaps I should have a house party at some point. Free Stella for everyone!*

*While supplies last.

On Harry Brown

27 Nov

Instead of enjoying nice warm pieces of turkey smothered in cranberry sauce and gravy (of the Mang Tomas kind), I ended up spending Thanksgiving night at the cinemas. I was disappointed to not get tickets to see “Paranormal Activity,” so I settled for “Harry Brown” instead. Dare I say this has to be one of the best films I’ve seen all year? I like the theme of revenge and taking back one’s neighborhood that is evident throughout the film, where groups of yobs have a council estate in London under siege. 

Harry Brown (portrayed by the great Michael Caine) represents a guy who just wants to live quietly to become a vigilante, Charles Bronsonesque hero of the 21st-century. Take that you yob scum! 

It’s no ordinary revenge film, and I’m not in the business to spoil it for you, but watch the film if you have the chance.

I <3 Busking

27 Nov

If there’s anything in London I find fascinating, it has to be that person inside the Underground singing a song:

However, the London Evening Standard claims that “Buskers who play their music too loud are putting the hearing of commuters at risk.” The article also claims that some of the music reached beyond 100 decibels–“the same level as a plane landing at Heathrow.”

Though the London Evening Standard is giving the noise a bad rap, listening to music on the Underground, or anywhere in London, is WAY better than hearing the two girls behind as I’m about to go from one line to another talk about Jedward. And don’t wish for any Jedward types performing on the Underground!

On a related note, this was my perception of buskers long before I visited (and lived in) London. I also blame this video for making me think that London is a romantic city:

Race/Ethnicity Questionnaire

27 Nov

I won’t name and shame this particular employer, but I was applying for a Christmas job and one of the questions asked me for my ethnicity. Here are the choices as follows:

-White British


-White Other




-Asian Other




-Black Other

-Mixed White/Black

-Mixed White/Asian

Considering I’m Filipino, guess which one I chose. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans!

Welcome to “Oysterland”!

23 Nov

The worst part about living in the near-edges of Greater London is the lack of Tube service. With the introduction of the Oyster card years before I decided to live here, it looked like it was one card for all–Tube, bus, light rail, rail services–but not the case if you live in Kingston upon Thames or Surbiton.

To get into London the fast way, which is commuter rail, I had to do a tedious process known as purchasing a ticket at a machine. Not only was going to the ticket machine an inconvenience, but I had to accumulate paper tickets and watch them so I won’t lose them. Did I mention it’s bad for the environment as well?

The days of printing tickets will soon be over (well, almost) from January 2nd. Now all rail services in Greater London–all 607 square miles of it–are accessible for all Oyster Card user, not just weekly, monthly and annual Travelcard holders. Ta ta, paper tickets and hello to up to 30% cheaper fares!

A one-way ticket from Surbiton or Kingston upon Thames to Waterloo will cost only £3.20 off-peak. Quite expensive still, but better than paying £5 off-peak!

So rejoice, pay-as-you-go customers, you can conquer all of London without being beholden to the paper ticket, and welcome to “Oysterland”!

To access the map of “Oysterland,” click here.

So what’s the big deal about this call girl?

22 Nov

After the stunning revelation that an American expatriate scientist in Bristol named Brooke Magnanti spent the first part of the noughties as a clandestine Internet celebrity specializing in the world’s oldest profession, I think it’s clear to understand my point of view about my views regarding the subject.

I was in the laundrette (laundromat for you North Americans) today and I read a copy of today’s Daily Mail on Sunday which featured an interview with Magnanti’s father (and pictures of Magnanti when she was living in the USA) and his reaction to his estranged daughter’s ways of keeping up with the bills. It turns out that father and daughter haven’t spoken in years, which the father blames on his post-divorce habits, which included a crack-cocaine addiction and get this–paying for prostitutes. Like father like daughter?

The middle aged lady in the laundrette and I had a somewhat brief conversation, and she thought it was dangerous that Magnanti ever got into the profession because someone could have harmed her. I seem to concur with that conclusion.

However, I don’t think it’s a bad idea that she wants to sell her body to the highest bidder. Not that I seem to fancy a call girl at the moment, but I believe in the free enterprise. A woman (or a man) should choose how to run their finances in legal means possible. Sure, she could get a job, but if she needed the money, there are better ways than stealing or selling drugs (a big no-no). Prostitution, after all, is legal in the United Kingdom so long as she’s not street walking and making a scene.

Then again…a whore is a whore, or, as Ludacris would put it, “Yous a ho!”

Dr. Brooke Magnanti: Just Another American Living in Britain?

22 Nov

So it turns out that the blogger formerly know as Belle de Jour–Dr. Brooke Magnanti–is an American from Florida. Good luck to Billie Piper trying to do an American accent if another series is commissioned.

I’m sure Dr. Magnanti will try to find herself int he likes of other Americans in Britain like Caprice (from Hacienda Heights, CA–a 10 minute drive from my hometown), Kevin Spacey, and David Soul. Well if the British can export people like Anna Friel (who has since returned to the UK) and Hugh Laurie, I’m sure America will bring some of its people to stir the pop culture for years and years to come!

I hate writing grocery lists

16 Nov

I’m never quite sure what I want from the supermarket until I get there. Writing grocery lists are a pain, and if you live by the list, you die by the list. So far I’ve written 12 items, but I think I need more than that.

Now the next dilemma: ASDA or Sainsburys?

“Let’s not forget ourselves good friend…”

15 Nov

As I reflect on my younger and gasoline-driven days, I realized I miss the sound of Los Angeles. Case in point: Rilo Kiley.

In my opinion, Rilo Kiley has to be one of the best Indie bands to come out of Los Angeles. Jenny Lewis has a soft, remarkable voice, but can turn passionate as she tells a story. One of my favorite Rilo Kiley songs has to be “Does He Love You,” where Lewis tells the story of love, an unhappy marriage, and an affair. Lewis and her bandmate Blake Sennett write the song in dramatic, melancholy fashion, with lyrics like:

Let’s not forget ourselves good friend

I am flawed if I’m not free

And your husband will never leave you

He will never leave you for me.

Such emotion. I love it.

We Know What You Did, Dr. Brooke Magnanti

15 Nov

The thing I like (and sometimes dislike) about London is anonymity. Like any big city I’ve encountered, I’m just a face in the crowd. At least if something humiliating happens to me in a public place, I can just walk away–and maybe write a blog about it using a pen name.

But what happens when the pleasure of anonymity ends?

Well if you’re Belle de Jour, the party’s over. Now we can put a name to a pseudonym. Belle de Jour, the doctoral student known the world over for her anonymous blog of entering the world’s oldest profession and whoring her way to her degree, has been revealed to be none other than an obscure research scientist working in Bristol. Dr. Brooke Magnanti, the prostitute turned scientist, unmasked herself in The Sunday Times this week–and she doesn’t look like anywhere near close to Billie Piper’s portrayal in the ITV2 (Showtime in the U.S.) series, “Secret Diary of a Call Girl.”

I’ve enjoyed reading her blog in book form until my mother lost it somewhere in the house. I look forward to enjoying what will happen next to her writing now that she cannot hide her identity from the public…though I’m not sure if her years as a scientist will be anything interesting. I can imagine in the next series of “Secret Diary” if she has afterthoughts while doing research. Hmmmm….