The past and next few weeks are littered with holidays. Spending them in Britain has been, and hopefully will continue to be, spectacular, if distinctly different.
I celebrated my 19th birthday three weeks ago, on 18 October. To be in London for my birthday was a phenomenal gift in itself, however it was unlike any birthday I’ve had before. This could very probably be because I was approximately 4, 500 miles away from home and anyone I’ve known for longer than three months, a realisation that could easily be construed as negative and homesick. But it absolutely isn’t. Though it was the first time I’ve celebrated without my family (all of whom I sorely miss), my odd, happenstance family from Palace Court made it one I will remember. We went bowling, ate kebabs, and ended up in a weird shisha (hookah) lounge on Queensway, steeped in strawberry smoke. It was last-minute, but enjoyable.
However, it is the 31st, not the 18th, that is my favourite day in October. I have never spent Halloween in a city, and last week, I got to do it twice! My Arcadian friend, Catherine Everett and I traveled to Cardiff on Friday, the capital of Wales. It is a city I have wanted to visit for some time, in part because of Doctor Who, Torchwood and Chris Need’s Friendly Garden (all TV or radio programmes based in the city) and because of my deepening love of Wales (see other blog). It is a much smaller, quieter, more manageable town than London, though it, too, boasted ghoulishly themed nightclubs and people walking about in fancy dress. Cat and I were, ourselves a bit unprepared for the early Halloween, and spent a few hours perusing the arcades and alleys of Cardiff for the perfect costume. At last we found clip on sheep ears and white, fleecy jackets. We ran into the biggest Boots pharmacy I have seen and put pink lip stain on our noses. We ended up with the perfect lamb outfits.
Well, not everyone thought they were perfect. As we strolled up St. Mary’s Street, perusing the clubs near our hostel, we were accosted several times. If you want to be mindlessly hit on, go to Cardiff. I found people in the Welsh capital to be much friendlier and also far more forward than the automatons of London. One set of the drunken blokes who tried to pick us up said, “What are you two supposed to be? Pigs?” When we explained that we were sheep, they cackled and said “Don’t you know what people in Wales do to sheep? We’re sheep shaggers!” Needless to say we didn’t hang around.
On Halloween proper, a Monday, and one during which I have class from 9:30- 5:30, I went out, again with Cat, and my flatmate Alexa, (dressed as sheep and Little Bo Peep) to a club called Miabella in Soho. I seriously did see a werewolf walking down the streets of Soho in the rain, though the Warren Zevon song fortunately didn’t start playing in my head. The evening was fun, but, once again it struck me how different this Halloween has been to all my others. Up until last year, I’ve gone trick or treating. When the amount of alcohol consumed outweighs the amount of candy consumed on All Hallow’s Eve, I guess you know you’re an adult. I think I’ll go trick or treating next time.
Another holiday, one that is unique to Britain is today! Guy Fawkes Day immortalises the Gunpowder plot of 1605, when a group of conspirators attempted to blow up Parliament. Now it is commemorated by fieworks displays all over the city. I saw a spectacular display in Brixton tonight.
The next big event England is focusing on is, of course Christmas. On Tuesday I went to Oxford Street for the switching on of all the lights. Normally, I can be a bit bahumbug about Christmastime, but the holidays in London just makes me feel even more like I am living inside my favourite movie, Love Actually.