Home > Personal > Tales of Europe: English Entertainment With Portia and Pals

Tales of Europe: English Entertainment With Portia and Pals

I spent a lot of time in London during my travels, first a ten-day stay on my own, then a couple, briefer stays in between other trips around the British Isles. On those other times in London I stayed with my friend Portia, a wonderful friend I made during my Semester at Sea academic cruise in summer 2008. Portia lives in London near Wimbledon, going to Richmond University and working to become a full-time professional photographer among other things. She’s very talented and smart as one can see, and generous enough to lend me her floor/couch when I needed it.

Portia and I had a lot of fun, whether going to the Notting Hill Festival, a celebration of Caribbean culture, or just going to the movies, which we did twice in rather quick succession. We explored London’s biggest comic book shop and more than a few pubs, a really great and relaxing break between more hectic trips.

One of the best things we did was go to the monthly adult night at the London Science Museum. Roisin, a friend from Munich I have written about before, invited me to come as she was back working in London and pretty busy otherwise. The event was free but by getting Portia and I on their guest list we received VIP status, which meant goody bags, faster lines, and free drinks at the bar (yes there was a bar at the science museum).

Portia and I went to a friend of hers apartment first as she had told him she’d say hello. He was currently still living with his now ex-girlfriend, an awkward situation to say the least, especially since they still grew jealous of each others dating lives and periodically fell back into a relationship style of behavior.

Portia’s friends are generally a colorful cast, thought that only hints at some of the fascinating and sometimes hilarious stories and quirks that defined them.  My favorites were the girl who married to stay in the UK (blackmailing her “husband” to do so) and the kleptomaniac stalker with a gambling addiction and a tendency to use her girlfriends ruthlessly (she wasn’t actually what Portia would call a friend, at least not anymore). Meeting these characters and learning their stories, both firsthand and from others revealed a very strange world and reinforced my belief that there is nothing so strange that the human mind cannot rationalize, ignore or otherwise make mundane. Pointing out oddities and absurdities only sometimes awakes a reexamination, more often they are dismissed as normal, all logic aside.

Getting back to the story, the former couple decided to accompany us to the museum and we walked through pouring rain (it was London after all) to get there. Roisin met us inside and while Portia’s friends wandered off, she and Roisin and I proceeded to get our goody bags filled with old-fashioned British candy as part of the night’s theme along with a glass of wine. The candy was mostly good if strange except for the “sherbert” a sugary white powder that seemed more like cocaine than any child’s snack.

We went on various virtual rides and looked at cool exhibits about biology and astronomy and everything else, even making our own constellations with glow-in-the-dark stars. I also quite liked the exhibit that would turn a picture of you into the opposite gender. It wasn’t perfect though as it left my facial hair in, making me a bearded (and rather ugly) woman in its final picture. Experiencing the “4-D” movie about Apollo 13 was also great. The CG looked amazing and the vibrations, water splash and other effects that added the extra dimension were the icing on the rather nerdy cake.

It’s always a some small worry to me when friends from different parts of my life meet, you never know if they’ll get along. Roisin and Portia though gave me no concern as they are two of the friendliest, most open people I know and entirely justified my opinion. I was sad when the night ended, not least because the seemingly endless train and bus ride back to Portia’s could be a bit of a grind, but definitely worth the night out.

Of course, that was just one night of many…

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