I’ve pulled out an old travel diary, or rather the non-travel part, wintering in London. I didn’t want to “go into service” or “serve at the bar” but I needed a home and an income.
Unlike other Antipodeans I found a large, functional shared house with grown ups. Three of the adults were kiwis but older than me and working, parenting and certainly not travellers. I was to sublet a room while one of the couples took their first born to meet his NZ relatives.
And work? I temped (filing, kitchen hand and other bone achingly boring clerical jobs), varnished the stairs of a three storey house, did data entry for someone’s PhD. We’re talking a 1986 home computer here where more data was lost than gained. And the research? Swedish children’s dental records.
And then I went on the dole. I wasn’t as ethical then as I am now. I had a UK grandparent passport, it was winter and I only did it for a few months. To live in Thatcher’s Britain and have my very own UB40 gave me an odd thrill I have to admit.
So do you want some nostalgic diary-ing from the Kiwi in London with slightly clipped wings?27.12.85
Christmas was nice. Never had a Lesbian xmas before but I suppose there is a first time for everything! Jac was stunning in a 3 piece suit, with pink bowtie to match the streak in her hair. Started off lounging around eating chocolates and drinking sherry, then got onto the port. Dinner was an avocado salad for starters, followed by a splendid nut roast, sauce, chestnut stuffing, roast spuds and other veggies – downed with bubbly. After there was pud with brandy butter, cake, pink triangle sweets and marzipan stuffed dates. Did I miss anything?
…I’ve moved into the house in Stoke Newington…I’m obsessed with the kitchen. It’s huge, warm and friendly and the cupboards are packed with everything under the sun. Every herb and spice you’ve ever imagined. At night with the light hanging low over the big wooden table the kitchen looks the most inviting room in the house.
…Predominantly orthodox Jewish neighbourhood…hats, curls and beards. It’s like through a movie set.
In Sandringham Rd (Willesden Green), I saw a woman, middle aged, pinny & scarf around her head, as she filled the dustbin. She wasn't smiling.29.12.85
Went to Bath yesterday with M and S. Freezing but blue skied day. Really well preserved Georgian city, could almost hear Jane Austen’s* skirts rustling down the street, see her stepping out of a carriage in the Royal Cresent.
The baths were impressive and triggered with a few memories of Latin classes – after all seeing pictures of men jumping naked into pools was always more interesting than conjugating verbs.1.1.86
Started the new year in a motivated way - with a route march! Went from Maida Vale (past J's old flat), through Little Venice with it's picturesque canal and barges, down Edgeware Rd to Hyde Park, past Green Park to Piccadily then up to Euston. Feel pretty stuffed now.
And NY eve was OK. Had worse. But never before have I seen the year in with so many people, or at Trafalgar Square - and I suspect I never shall again! It was mind blowing the amount of people there. Quite a sprinkling of low life - but that made it more exciting...
Is that enough, or should I go on?
* note from 2010
: if I go back to Bath I’ll certainly be doing so with the Jane Austen walking tour
on my ipod.
Labels: Bath, Jane Austen, living in the '80s, London, nostalgia, Stoke Newington, Thatcher