Lost and dumbfound in London

lost-and-dumbfound-in-londonLost and dumbfound in London

By Georgia Keighery

I’ve been told a thousand times that London is overwhelming and amazing. Being overwhelmed by London is a cliche of the highest order. Hence, I decided in advance that I would not be part of it. No no, I decided that I would be excited to be in London, that I would appreciate everything about it and soak it all up without exception, but that I would not, under any circumstances, be overwhelmed. Far too passé. I made up my mind that I would skip the overwhelm entirely in favour of unfettered delight. ‘I’m too smart to be dumbfounded anyway’, I thought smugly.

On day one here, I thought I’d take some time in the morning to write a list of things I simply must see. Not the things I’d like to see, mind you (they could wait until next week), just the ones that I couldn’t bare to miss. I thought this would be a smart move. Again, I smiled at my own cleverness and capacity to be level-headed in my excitement. Planning – it’s the key to success.

I sat down with my coffee and my guidebooks on that first morning and began to write the list of things I wanted to do here. The list included things like:

*  Take Shakespeare’s Complete Works to the Globe, have a tour, then sit outside it and read lines from your favourite plays.

*  Visit the Tower of London and get lost in there.

*  Walk over the London Bridge and Tower Bridge taking photos of the Thames from every angle.

*  Take your thermos and tea cup to Buckingham Palace, and sit outside it having a cup of tea (with the Queen).

By the time midday rolled around I was still writing the list. Every entry in the guide books was unmissable as far as I was concerned. The Houses of Parliament, The National Gallery, The National Science Museum, The Victoria and Albert, Portobello Markets, The Borough Markets, Abbey Road, Westminster Abbey … And I wasn’t finished making the list. At this stage there were 54 different items on my list, I was only half way through the guide books, and I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. “Alright”, I said to myself out loud, “Obviously, I don’t have time to write this list, I need to get into action or I’ll never see everything!”.  I perused the half-written list for an item that I could spend the remaining few hours of the day doing … The Globe? No – I needed to take the tour AND sit and read his plays, and it was now 1pm. The Tower of London? No – there wasn’t enough time to truly ‘get lost’ in there, and it would be a waste to see it and not have enough time to be swept away. Buckingham Palace? No – I didn’t have a flask yet … or a tea cup …

All of a sudden my heart began racing. Even being here for weeks I couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to fit it all in. And I want to see everything. Everything. I began to freak out that I may have to choose a ‘type’ of attraction and stick to that: just the museums and galleries, or just the historical sites, or just the theatres. Oh no, I couldn’t do that. I paced the room as I began trying to think of how to best divide my time so that I could get around to see all that London has to offer, but not rush anything. “Gawd! What about seeing a football game? It’s actually a criminal act, to come here and not see a game of football, isn’t it?!” … And on and on it went. By the time my partner came home I was still pacing in circles and I was mumbling “there’s so much … it’s overwhelming”.

Again I am reminded that a cliche is cliche because it is generally true. I am also reminded that I am generally not an exception to any rule. I am an average person who needs to remind herself every now and then not be such a wanker. I’ve rewritten this piece over 30 times as I’ve tried to focus on a single element of London for long enough to write something worthwhile. But all I can say is that, like so many delightful travellers before me, I have been lost and dumbfound in London! And I couldn’t be happier about it.

7 comments on “Lost and dumbfound in London

  1. London caught you out missy….. it still catches me out and I’ve been living here for 9 years! Think you’ve captured what it can do to a first timer brilliantly. xx

  2. My darling Georgia. Perhaps you should start your sightseeing by choosing sites that appear in songs, then those that appear in poems, then fill in the gaps from the guide book later. Things like ‘London Bridge is falling down’, ‘the Old Portobello Road’, etc. It would require some research of course, which could be done by visiting the pubs in famous roads and asking the folks sitting at the bar what songs and poems they know about London.
    And then, send a plane ticket to your mother to come over and join you.

  3. What I’m hearing here, is.. the world will eat you up weather you like it or not.
    So just enjoy!

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