Sunday, May 8, 2011

London finally called.

     The level and intelligence of people is intriguing and intimidating.  Part of me likes to surround myself by acute personalities.  It greatly helps enhance my knowledge and pushes me to escape my comfort zone. However, these people have a level of wit and sophistication that is overwhelming. I often feel insecure and trivial in their presence. I know I am ultimately more comfortable hanging out in the blue collar bar, talking about football and sneaking out the back door to smoke a heater. However, I realize the importance of developing a similar level of complacency in both settings. Recently I met a 22 year old lady with such savviness that left me flabbergasted. In these situations, I find it necessary to learn from these people rather than letting pride and jealousy take over.  
London-April 28th 
   I finally received a full night sleep when I awoke at the University of Exeter. My mate had set me up on campus in an old beautiful building that was partially used as bed and breakfast with exquisite views of the campus. (more details to come)  I turned on the television to a broadcast coverage of the Royal Wedding in London. I poured a cup of tea and glanced out the window. I wondered if the students at this campus appreciated the fabulous views and the masterful landscape architecture that adorned their campus.  To my continuous dismay, the level of eloquence of a place like this failed to resonate in my conscience as a young adult. I wasn't going to miss the opportunity at this moment. 

  After breakfast and a quick walk through campus, we headed to board a train destine for central London. My mate asked a worker at the train station if his brother could accompany us onto the platform, in which the worker responded candidly, "No."  I quickly realized people were equally as rude in England as in America.  The train ride lasted three hours and journeyed through the English county-side. The county landscape was rolling and green and provided me with a sense of tranquility.  We engaged in light and entertaining conversation and even ordered a beer from our first class seats. I had a warm Carlsberg, a popular beer from Denmark that I was unfamiliar with until the trip. (I am now aware the Carlsberg Group is the 4th larger brewery group in the world. Yes, I am a bit out of the loop.) The ride proved to be the last truly relaxing moment until the flight back to North Carolina. 
   Unbeknownst to me, I was having lunch at the Commonwealth Club in the heart of Central London. We had taken the London Underground to the Embankment Street Station to arrive there. At this early stage of the trip, I was completely overwhelmed by the massive city. I had not been to a city of this size or stature in several years and it made the small city I reside in seem ever smaller and insignificant. Right next to the Commonwealth Club was the Sherlock Holmes Pub. A relative had just told me that he was in London for one day and was sucked in by this tourist trap. However, I would likely have felt more comfortable as a tourist. I was completely unprepared to sit for a posh lunch and was forced to wear the only decent shirt I had brought. A third party joined us, a former college mate of my friend that was residing and working in London. We first had a drink than was escorted to our table. The waitstaff was mostly Eastern European and noticeably attractive. 
 The menu was impressive but not overly complicated. The special was a three course lunch. Since fish and chips as not an option, I decided on lamb's liver and a cheese tray for desert. A bottle of Chilean wine was ordered.  I don't recall the appetizer. The other two parties ordered a Mackerel dish.  Throughout the lunch, I was a step behind in the conversation. The others openly and fluently discussed topics such as international business and culture. Parts of the conversation were over my head and out of my comprehension. I would have had a much higher level of comfort having lunch at a pub and talking about the difference between American and European football. However, I will likely never gain a control over these social situations by continuously avoiding them. Despite the element of surprise in the lunch,  I relished in the moment. I don't know that I will ever be back having lunch at a private club in Central London. It was pretty fucking awesome! 

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