After spending such a large amount of time sick while I was travelling around Asia (of which there are more stories to come, I just haven’t gotten around to writing them down yet) I was done with it. Never before had I wanted the Western comforts of home more. And by Western comforts I am not talking about things like mummy and daddy and a room to myself as much as I love these things. But my first request getting off the plane was steak. Lots of steak. And brie cheese… my Achilles heel.
I arrived at the airport only to have a dispute with the arsehole immigration officer who seemed to be concerned that as teacher I was going to attempt to work in the UK for the all of 2 weeks I am here with adequate funds and my old Canadian visa and onward ticket. In true Dano fashion I said to him “seriously? Your country would sponsor me to come here and work and get paid as a teacher. If I wanted a work visa I’d have one already and you’d organize it for me. I’m her for two weeks to buy bras, eat steak and visit friends before working jobs I have lined up in Canada! Why would I lie?” He let me through. I am pretty sure he was just having an arsehole day. I wanted to tell him if the wind changed his face would stay looking like an arsehole but thought better of it, grabbed my passport and ran.
So I got out of the customs area and am looking for signs of subway when I hear this familiar high pitched screaming “THOMAS!!!” At which point I am then throwing myself at my friend Tash with the railing in the way and there is screaming and crying for a 3 year reunion. At which point I then got annoyed with the barrier railing and knelt down to crawl through it with my pack still on and people staring at me while I tell her this immigration arsehole nearly wouldn’t let me in the country. She says to me “only you would make me laugh so hard being too lazy to walk around the rail and have a complaint come out of your mouth as the first words spoken… I love you!”
After getting back to her house we had a think… couldn’t figure out where to get the best steak ever but the place down the road does the best ever BBQ meat platters and I am all in! Brisket, baby back ribs, spare ribs, pulled pork… more meat than you could poke a stick at and more than two of us could eat in one sitting and being such a precious commodity, I wrapped the rest of that meat up and took it home for breakfast.
Protein was one of the many things I missed in Asia. Especially through Nepal and India, after the stress on the body from the pneumonia and secondary infections and then having to give myself intramuscular injections twice daily (a hilarious and not so hilarious story to come later – watch out for “Adventures With Needles”), I lost a lot of muscles and damaged muscle tissue. I needed protein to heal and protein in Asia is a measly scrap of chicken on a bone in a pile of curry sauce. And vitamins! I was tired, lethargic and felt shitty a lot of the time from diet. But here I was, munching down on meat and Sainsbury vitamin pills for every meal in England and became a force to be reckoned with. That force wound up in Marks and Spencers shopping for bras…. something I no longer owned and yet deemed necessary in this society.
I will say this. I have a ginormous fondness for bras. When I was a teenager the only ones that fit me were horrendous grandma-type looking bras with inch thick straps and material that sat up near my collar bones. As fashion started to compensate for those of us well endowed, my love of pretty bras began. And so continued in M&S as I spent 2 hours in there trying to figure out what size I was now and what they have in my size and then pretty much trying on one of everything they had in my size. Plus matching undies because those were also novel in the unattractive teenage days. The ladies that worked in there stared at me for a long while trying to figure out who the disheveled looking woman in their store trying everything on was. I explained to them “I have been in India, all of my clothes smell and have holes in them, this crop top I am wearing is the only bra I own. I don’t know what size I am anymore”. It was like a state of emergency. They were both horrified and excited and helped me out and by the time I left I was quite a debt on the credit card and super happy with my giant bag of bras hanging off the arm down the street.
So off to Primark. For those not English or unfamiliar, Primark is considered cheap and daggy, kind of like the Australian K-Mart and the North American Walmart but done up in a classier way and heaps cheaper. I headed here for basic tank tops, long sleeved tops and t-shirts. And then wound up with shorts, boob tubes, hoodies, bikinis, socks, underpants, leggings and the rest. Another couple of hours later and I emerge from Primark swallowed underneath piles of bags I can barely carry and with waaayyyy too much stuff. My friend Tash says to me “but you deserve it! You haven’t bought things for yourself in a very long time! And you need it! And…. you don’t smell like India anymore thank fuck!”
The next days were a hunt for shoes, jeans and accessories. I pretty much bore me new wardrobe in the first 3 days of being in London and then the guilt set in. These clothes were too pretty and nice for me to wear. I am a bum. I wear clothes with holes in them. Looking nice feels weird. What if I trash these nice clothes….. ugh…. people are obviously staring at me because I look so strangely normal now…. and so the readjustment continues…
After a couple of days I started getting used to it. My largest concern now is how to get all of this junk I have to Canada after going out of control. I can check an excess bag but after my adventures of getting it to Glascow on the all too familiar sleeper bus I am pretty excited about my next stop being my last stop for a while. Bring on more work and a bit of normality. Oh and more steak. Mmm…. steak….