6 | UK Life
12 - 18 February 2013
Tunnel of Love tube talk > Sandra Tahmasby
After putting the Tube love theory to its test I still wonder, can you really find love in a big city? I have never been one for the big romance. You know, the birds in the sky and the violins in the background. I don’t do flowers and puppies, and much prefer a good game of rugby and a few pints at the pub. I’ve been single for almost two years now, and I wonder if I will ever find a love like the love that I get from the Tube. Just like my imaginary love (the Tube), my knight in shining armour doesn’t have to be perfect. All I want is for someone to take me to places I have never been before, to keep me warm, to remind me to ‘mind the gap’ and someone who will carry my (emotional) baggage. Is that really so much to ask for? After being in a relationship for 5 years, Valentine’s Day is merely just another day to us single
ladies (put your hands up!). Where is my Mr. Right? It seems like all guys these days are only my Mr. Right now. Could it be the guy I play pingpong eyes with every morning on my way to work, awkwardly avoiding eye contact for longer than 5 seconds? Maybe the guy that offered me his seat? Or did he mistake my wine belly for a baby bump? Or is he the guy that pushed me out of the way to make sure he was on the tube before the doors closed on him? The road to true love is never smooth. Who am I kidding? I’m not going to find him on the Tube. This Valentine’s Day I’ll be having a few sneaky sippies with the girls. My girlfriends are better than Mr Right now anyway! I’m not looking for Prince Charming but maybe Prince Charming in training will do?
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‘Bleak winds and plumping rain’ Edinburgh Expat > Tyson Yates
Edinburgh is sometimes referred to as the ‘City of Literature’, or ‘Athens of the North’. The latter of course reflecting Edinburgh’s role as a major intellectual centre during the Enlightenment and NOT a tongue-in-cheek dig at the city’s very un-Mediterranean climate. Probably. The former reveals Edinburgh’s affinity with its literary heroes. Late last month – around the same time as us Aussies in the UK were salvaging what we could of Australia Day (which as we all know marks the day Triple J came down from that mountain carrying with them a list of bands that would become the Hottest 100) – Scots were downing drams and reading aloud an homage to haggis as they celebrated Burns Night. This nation-wide celebration of the country’s best-loved bard, Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns, sees plenty of events taking place throughout the Scottish capital, but this is not the only affection Edinburgh musters for its artists.
A stroll down Princes Street will be cut short as you stop and marvel at the gothic monument dedicated to Sir Walter Scott. If you skip just one street along, you will find yourself in the immediate vicinity of two pubs honouring literature icons - the first being Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (think, Sherlock Holmes) and the second in both name and theme dedicated to the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – a novel by the Edinburgh born and bred Robert Louis Stevenson (also see Treasure Island). Strange indeed is this relationship between a city with infamously temperamental weather and those who have the ability to aptly describe it. In the 19th century, when literary figures did not have the perpetually incomplete tram system to bear the brunt of their frustration, much detail was devoted to the very thing that kept them indoors and writing: wind and rain. A plight I am all too familiar with as I now find myself trapped in a soulless coffee franchise that I will avoid naming just as they avoid paying taxes. Cyclonic winds, torrential rain, sunshine and snow; of course we Aussies are not unfamiliar with extreme weather, we are just used to experiencing these elements at different
times of year, in different parts of a very big country, not all in one place before brunch. Do we do brunch? I bet Melbourne does brunch. While my own description of Edinburgh’s weather can be dismissed under that age old fable of the Aussie who ventured too far and now can’t find his way back to the beach – a word from Robert Louis Stevenson himself may help to shed some light, as the sky here rarely does. On Edinburgh he says: “No situation could be more commanding for the head city of a kingdom; none better chosen for noble prospects… But Edinburgh pays cruelly for her high seat in one of the vilest climates under heaven. “The weather is raw and boisterous in winter, shifty and ungenial in summer and a downright meteorological purgatory in the spring. The delicate die early, and I, as a survivor, among bleak winds and plumping rain, have been sometimes tempted to envy them their fate.” So, there you have it. Edinburgh’s weather can be blue skies one minute, storm clouds the next. A single day can boast both sun and snow. It is harmless then ruthless. It truly is a case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Love in the time of third wheels n This Valentine’s Day ALEX IVETT finds out there is only one thing worse than the cross-continental set-up from well meaning Aussie friends and family - being the third wheel on someone else’s blind date.
IT’S the rite of passage all Australians moving to London must go through. The cross-continental introduction by a mutual friend, followed by the awkward first meet up arranged through super-polite texts until you discover a shared love of tequila shots and you’re to be found at 3am the next morning bonding over the finale of Offspring you had to stream on the internet (awwww, Nina + Patrick = 4ever). Normally, it’s just the friend of a friend, and a vital part of establishing your network when you first move to a new city. Usually, because you have a friend in common, you inevitably will be able to fill the conversation space of one coffee, if only because you can gossip about your mutual friend. If you’re lucky and that goes well, you might be able to turn that coffee into a beautiful friendship, where you skip gaily through Regents Park together, tinkly laughing and tossing your hair in the afternoon sun. However, sometimes the introduction is a trans-Atlantic version of the show ‘Date My Son’. A well-meaning attempt by extended relatives concerned by your long shelf-life and shriveling ovaries which they take it upon themselves to address by running their own
informal international dating service. “Oh, you’re moving to London?” a good family friend might mention casually. “Well, you must look up my bosses nephew. He’s about your age.” Or your Aunt might mention her drycleaners son has just moved to the UK. Or your Mum helpfully identifies that the chemist’s daughter’s exboyfriend lives just one stop from you on the Underground. And, wouldn’t you know it, now single! Or, as has recently happened to my friend – her Italian Grandma’s bingo partners great nephew. True story. Never mind that she’s already well established in London. Never mind she’s never met her grandma’s bingo partner, or has any interest in going out with her great-nephew. No, it should be enough that Nonna has established he’s a banker. With his own apartment in Fulham. “And did I tell you he cooks for himself?” Though should we really be so impressed by a grown man who lives alone occasionally demonstrating an ability to bake his own cannelloni instead of having his Nonna internationally ship over some frozen lasagnes (like his women?). But, you can’t say no to your Grandma, can you? Which is why my friend found herself agreeing to a blind date with someone she had already pre-stalked on Facebook and already decided was not for her (don’t judge – you’ve all done it). And which is why I found myself accidently also on the date as buffer.
Imagine his surprise when, expecting to turn up for an intimate tete-a-tete with a sophisticated, charming, pretty young lady of fellow Italian origin, he instead turned up for an intimate tete-a-tete with the former….…. And me. I may as well have popped out from behind my friend, Brady Bunch style, and yelled: “Romantic dinner for two? Not bloody likely! And keep your hands where I can see them…’ Needless to say, the date did not go well. To be fair to him, I was a bad date. I took charge of the menu. I over-ordered the sharing dishes (without establishing first that yes, in fact, he didn’t mind sharing). I ate everything. I spilt food on myself (yes that happened). I didn’t engage in conversation or ask any questions about him, and I played with my phone. Just short of ordering a bottle of Krug on his tab, sculling it all and then making out with a waiter, I don’t think I could have demonstrated worse table manners. To be fair to me, it wasn’t my date. Also, to his credit, he behaved impeccably. He asked my friend pertinent questions about herself, he nodded politely. He enquired about her family and complimented her outfit. However, it’s hard to create the appropriate atmosphere of romance and intimate banter when there’s a third person sitting opposite you, silently assessing your first date skills whilst chewing crispy duck with their mouth open and trying to get mushu pork sauce out of their shirt with their diet coke. And, after all that, he paid for us both. To him, thanks for the free dinner, and my sincerest apologies. Better luck on the next episode of Date My Son. And to my mother’s chemist’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend, I promise to behave better should she ever prove successful at forcing contact.
The weekly Australian Times newspaper: for, by and about Aussies in the UK