Monday, 12 October 2009

West meets Far East

Most born and bred Londoners will have a strong allegiance to their side of town and promote it to anyone who’ll listen. The Thames usually acts as a dividing line; those north of the river (like me) can be found hanging around Hampstead Heath and extolling the virtues of Islington bars, while south Londoners will more often than not be raving on and on and on and on about how they got some wicked cheese down Borough Market the other day, init.

In my case, north west London is my stomping ground. Simply put, I know how to get from A to B without getting stranded and / or mugged in the process. Put me south, and it’s back to square one. Put me east, and I might as well be in another country. So when a friend asked me to cat 'n' flat sit for a week, I agreed. Finally, a chance to sample life in zone 2. Just one's in Hackney; which is about as east as this westie girl goes.

Given my unfamiliar surroundings, yesterday I decided to do a trial walk to my nearest station, dragging the New Boy along for luck. We’d had a good nose at google maps before leaving the flat, established that we needed to turn left, then left again....or something. Basically, he assumed I knew where I was going, and I assumed he knew where he was going. We went left and ended up doing a huge, unnecessary loop through various council estates before ending up at the station about 45 minutes later (n.b. I discovered this morning that if you turn right, it only takes 10 minutes). Having royally un-mastered that journey, we decided to hop on a bus to Oxford Street for some Sunday shopping. Simple enough, yes? Check the front of the bus, see the words Oxford Street, and get on.

After 10 minutes on the bus, I tentatively said “I think we’re going the wrong way”, to which he replied “No we’re not, what other way is there?”. Well, perhaps the way the buses on the other side of the road are going. “We need to be going west, yes? Like to central west. But isn't Clapton east?” It was a few stops later that we admitted defeat, got off the bus, crossed the road and started back the other way.

Navigation failures aside, there are other issues to contend with. Like what to make of an area when you walk past a primary school at 8am and hear one child say to another “Shut up man, or I’m going to murk you til you die”.

In this instance, I can only hope there are language issues at play; that an east London "murk" has a different meaning to its western counterpart. Well, I can hope.


All Mod Cons said...

You hang out on Hampstead Heath? Really?? Always knew you North Londoners were a little suspect...


Anonymous said...

Murk? That's a real word?

Although I'm not born and bred, I now live in the south east I do like Borough Market...

Anonymous said...

Obviously, that should have read: "I now live in the south east AND I do like Borough Market..."

Lady Wise said...

I live in Edinburgh, which is also a capital city, obviously, and even though it is a million times smaller than London, I have still not visited every part of it. I have heard of areas but have no idea where they are, or what direction I would need to travel in to get to them. Granted, I've only lived here for four years, but still. I can't imagine what it must be like for you Londoners!

Sounds like an epic journey, and I've also just been catching up on the story with your new man. Jealous, much?

weenie said...

I've lived and worked around Manchester for nearly 20 years now and I only know the northern and western parts. The other bits, I get horrendously lost and have to resort to Sat Nav.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

All Mod - Ohh come on, this isn't the 80s any more. George Michael's long gone ;)

Roseski - Yes I can confirm that 'murk' is a real, down with the kids word. And as for Borough Market, I went there for the first time last week, and that was to go to a pub.

Lady Wise - Yeah I'm pretty sure most city dwellers have areas they've never been to, for me I can tell immediately when I'm in east London because everyone's suddenly wearing skinny jeans and ray bans.

Weenie - I'm totally dependent on my sat nav this week.


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