Friday 5 November 2010

50 things to do in London before you die

 Woman in a hurry

When we moved to London, Husband and I were dewy-eyed about all the things we'd do when here: on Sundays we'd see a film at the local cinema (we've managed to do this twice in three months), we'd meet up regularly after work and see an exhibition (not once has this happened), we'd go to comedy clubs (nope), see concerts (no). All this on top of the usual working, writing, seeing friends and theatre-going. We even subscribed to Time Out so that we'd not miss any big - or small - cultural event in the capital. This may have been the biggest mistake: the appearance of this jolly London events magazine on the doorstep every week only serves to remind us what we are missing - not what we are going to enjoy.

This week's front page was the final straw: how are you supposed to feel to be told that there are 50 things you should do in London before you die? Do they know something I don't? Is there an urgency about the matter?

At first I thought I mustn't panic. I've probably done most of the must do activities already; I've lived in England for more than  25 years, and London was a favourite weekend destination when we lived in the sticks.  But then I started to leaf through the article.

I'm not going to legally compromise myself by reproducing the suggestions, it'll appear soon enough on their web site here, but there were a few that caught my eye. Bungee jumping from the Tower Bridge, for instance, is an activity I’ll happily die without experiencing. I also have no desire to start a water fight in Hyde Park on a hot day (even if as suggested done through Twitter), though I guess I could consider doing the Can-Can in one of the Trafalgar Square fountains or even a snowball fight in a park in winter. But doing a DJ set at Fabric would not, I’m absolutely sure, improve my life at all (nor those frequenting the club), nor would going to a S&M fetish night in the capital. I like my pleasures silky and gentle.

Perhaps it's my age, or the clocks going back, or the leaves dropping from the tree outside my office window, but I've been feeling quite world weary lately. And I've been losing things which makes me fear I'm losing my mind as well. Or gong senile. I know it's not a laughing matter, but that article, funny (and useful) as it may have been, made me think about old age. About how sometimes the presence of youth, be in in the form of a magazine obviously intended for a younger audience, or a group of giggling students passing below my window in the middle of the night on their way back to their student digs, or even a young puppy protesting at his lead by trying to chew at it, makes me feel quite tired. And old.

My new gadget that was supposed to make my life, oh so much easier, the iPhone 4, has not helped. The touch-screen is driving me nuts; my fingers seem far too large to be able to get to the right letter in the keypad, I'm either too vigorous or too gentle. I keep inadvertently phoning people I've not spoken to in years while scrolling down the contacts; I keep deleting emails when trying to read them. Worst of all the bloody thing doesn't want to send emails while on 3G; ie when I'm anywhere else but at home on on an known Wifi network. This is particularly frustrating because I've been using mobile email for years, ever since Nokia came out with its Communicator. On top of all that the new iPhone runs out of batteries in a nanosecond, or quicker if listening to music or podcasts. On top of all that, the map function only works when you don't need it; as soon as you're lost it tells you, 'Cannot connect to the internet' and you get half of an map or directions to somewhere totally obscure. In other words the phone is as useful to me as a chocolate teapot.

So I thought, let's sort this email thing out once and for all. My network operator tells me it's a Apple problem so I book a time in the Genius Bar. Genius my ass! The girl who's barely out of pink Barbie doll adoration, told me helpfully, 'The thing is Yahoo doesn't really talk to Apple, so...'

I stared at her, 'So what are you telling me?'

'There's not much we can do....I guess your network operator could have a solution.'

'They told me they're not allowed to touch an iPhone and I should get you to sort out the problem.'

'Oh,' she said and disappeared to talk to a young boy.

She came back saying I should open a gmail account and start forwarding my mails through that. 'You can do that at home on your computer.' And then she looked at her wristwatch. I felt so old, tired and pissed off, I asked for her name and made a point of writing it down in my notepad. But she didn't bat an eyelid, besides it was hardly her fault she'd been put onto the iPhone Genius Bar but knew stuff all about the iPhone. In the bus on the way home I wondered if the iPhone had a setting where if you're over a certain age it just stops working for you. 

Yet, we are all living a lot longer, particularly us women. My mother tells me I may have 20 years of working life left, and she's probably right if the pension age keeps on creeping up. And why shouldn't it? I fully expect to be working until I drop, be it at my desk typing away at some new tale or other, or at the book shop talking about the latest Booker short list. There are women and men all over the place living life to the full at the age of seventy, eighty, or even ninety.  So there'll be plenty of time for some of the 50 London treats like staying at the newly refurbished Savoy (yes please!), for a Yuletide swim in the Serpentine, or an early morning visit to Billingsgate fish market.

So I'll try to cheer up right after I've sent an angry old woman mail to the Apple store. Now where did I put that notebook?


Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Helena, it took me a few days to get used to my iPhone after having a normal Nokia. I find the texting best if you turn it on it's side so the keys are larger.

I'm 41 and have plenty of dotty granny moments! I constantly walk in rooms and have no idea what I'm in there for or go to the corner shop and come back with with something completely different!

I have been to a fetish club. The dressing up was fun but I kept getting handed men on leads that wanted to be my slave which was most annoying. Hope you're having a good weekend xx

Unknown said...

Christina, so nice to hear you too have 'granny moments'! And the fetish club, now I really might enjoy having men as my slaves...I think I have to reconsider that one...xx

Alison Cross said...

I can't get to grips with texting at all. I want to write everything out in full and it's v tiring. I'd rather sit at the computer and compose a proper e-mail <-sooooo last century lol!

Ali x

Mrs P said...

I think you are right about Billingsgate Market - you can take a tour and do a fish cookery class on the same day - I am planning to do this next Spring when the mornings are brighter - the rest of the stuff I can probably do without, especially the bungee jumping! I use predictive text and find that easy now, best to check what you have written though - phones are sometimes more stupid than the person holding them x

Penny Dreadful Vintage said...

I have been having granny moments all my life, I wouldn't worry about that.

I find feeling old and tired has an awful lot to do with whether you are feeling generally happy or not. I remember feeling terribly old and world weary when I was 25 - now 6 years later I feel much younger.

Time Out started to annoy me with articles such as this, I never read it anymore.