Random Notes on London: A Cranky Visitor's Perspective Was in London last week for mostly business. That meant I could book myself into a reasonable hotel and hire a car to ferry me back and forth from the airport. London is a lovely city, but it isn't home. Some random cranky thoughts.
  • Bank Machines: People line up for bank machines on Oxford Street, just like people line up here to deal with a real human teller. I'm telling you: if you want to make money in London, start installing third-party ATMs. You'll make a killing.
  • Air Conditioning: There isn't any. It's no fun browsing the 4th floor of the Boots or Borders when you're socks are squishy from sweat. Note to Her Majesty: Heat rises.
  • Selfridge's: What's the point? I can't afford any of the fashion there. I don't even want to finger the Alexander McQueens or the Stella McCartneys. My Dad did send me on a hunt for an issue of "Exchange and Mart", which I found at Selfridge's. Cost? One pound, possibly the cheapest thing there.
  • Single Rooms: London is the only city I know of where if you book a single room, they give you a dinky single bed in a proportionately small room. Ironically, the "en suite" bathrooms in these rooms tend to be larger than the rooms themselves, tempting me to sleep in the bath tub.
  • $30.00 Continental Breakfasts. Two croissants. Two pots of jam. One pot of coffee. Still hungry and feeling used.
  • Fried Eggs: Did you know they actually deep fry them? In pots of boiling oil? Ugh!

Still, there are things I love:

  • Bathrooms: The Portaloo is no longer necessary. There are plenty of coffee shops and the "toilets" are invariably clean. Don't ask for the location of the "washroom", though.... They'll look at you funny and then step back as if they can suddenly smell your humaness.
  • Neal's Yard: The seemingly original homeopathic source. Jars of organic rose petals and colt's foot (plant, not horse), essential oils in amber bottles--everything you need for when you need "remedying" (the latter being a word rarely used in North America).
  • Men's men who treat you like you can take it: I'm not talking about women haters or wife batterers. I'm talking about men who unabashedly flex their testosterone without checking to see if there's a lady in the house. Political correctness be damned! If I can be a girly-girl, then there's room for my exact opposite. I love the smell of sweat in the morning.
  • Real women with real bodies: English women are quite frankly more like me. Few are rail-thin and few are beautiful in the North American big teeth sense. But they always seem comfortable in their skins. I think there's a link between this and the lack of gym facilities available in the city.

Tomorrow? Gardening News....


The Best Things About Revenge of the Sith
  • Yoda: His performance actually had the most emotional resonance of anyone in the film. Kudos to the team of 3D artists who brought him to life. They have more acting ability than Hayden Christenson.
  • Ewan McGregor's Alec Guiness: Ewan obviously watched "Kind Hearts and Coronets" over and over because his imitation of Sir Alec's clipped upper class schoolboy accent was pretty good.
  • A Buff Hayden Christensen: Is he our next Keanu? Num.
The Worst Things About Revenge of the Sith
  • Anakin Skywalker's turning point: Darth Sidius: "Young Skywalker, become evil. It's fun. I guarantee it." Anakin Skywalker: "Oh, okay."
  • Padme's Reduction to a Weepy, Preganant, Housewife: Who stands on a balcony dreamily brushing their hair. Nobody. 'Nuff said.
  • Obi-Wan Leaving Anakin to Burn: "You were my brother. I should have more lines to say, but they're getting in the way of the special effects. Good-bye!" .
  • Darth Vader Taking his first Steps a la Frankenstein: Puh-leeze. This should have been caught in the editing room and re-shot.


Starting Your Own Business: Rule 1: Don't Conduct Business from Your Bed So, I'm revising a proposal for a studio in Asia. Because of the 12 hour time difference, last night I plugged my laptop next to my bed so I could check messages for any last minute changes early in the morning, incorporate them, and re-send the proposal so it arrives at a fairly reasonable time. I wake up at 7:30 and see there are some modifications to make. I go downstairs to make an expresso and then hop back into bed, my laptop nestled on the duvet, and proceed to make the revisions. Suddenly, the machine stops. Cold. Or, in this case, hot. The damn fan was blocked by the friggin' goose down duvet (normally a source of great comfort). You can fry an egg on the bottom of the machine. I restart it...power comes on, but it's not reading the disk. Panic. I calm myself down, reminding myself that this is a quality machine and is probably designed to do this when its innerds reach the boiling point. My 17.00$ hair dryer has a similar mechanism, why not a 3500.00$ laptop? I wait 5 minutes. My finger firmly presses the "on" button. Huzzah! It boots and I'm back in business. Lesson learned. Don't mix comfort with work. It could end in tears.


I Really Could Have Used This... ...a couple of weekends ago hiking up one of the gentler rocky mountains. It's a portable device that let's a gal pee just like a boy. There is nothing more vulnerable than squatting with your panties around your ankles. You're hoping that you're well hidden behind a tree and far enough from the busy trail. Most of the time, you get pee on your jeans. There are other devices out there, but this one looks like it...ummm...covers, catches and deviates the flow properly. I know The Whiskey Cafe has women's urinals, but I just go for the standard porcelain commode everytime I go there...I don't really want to touch the plastic funnel thingy. Finally, there are instructions for peeing like a man here. Whenever I think of the differences between the way men and women pee--which isn't often--I am reminded of Camille Paglia, who used this difference to underline that while men learn to aim early in life, women are doomed to merely "muddy the earth beneath them".


My Bed at the Drake

My Bed at the Drake Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

Stayed at the Drake Hotel in Toronto on Monday night after spending Mother's Day with my family in the 'burbs.

Refurbished by some guy who gave up his day job to trek in the Himalayas (or something like that) and then returned to do something artsy, this is a totally fun place to stay.

I fell in love with my room when I saw a little stuffed friend sitting there waiting for me. Part sock monkey, part cabbage patch doll, this little guy was a welcome touch to an already well-designed room.

The bars are fun (there are two), the restaurants are great (also two), the beds are super comfy and the toiletries are nummy.

I felt totally relaxed there, enjoying a couple of drinks in the bar upstairs after meeting a friend for dinner and later soaking up some fresh air in the morning before pointing the Bug back towards home.

Not cheap, but highly Maggie recommended.


Fearless/Feckless On a fairly regular basis, someone will say something to me that indicates that they think that I'm not scared of much. A couple of weeks ago a girlfriend was discussing some career changes she was going through and how she ws handling them. She said, "But, I don't have Maggie's self-confidence." All I could think was "I don't have Maggie's self-confidence, either." I didn't say it, of course. Friday night I was having drinks with a friend from my writer's group and she asked why I wasn't submitting more of my work. "I can't imagine you being scared," she said. Of course I'm scared, I thought. Rejection is a horrible, horrible thing. Instead, I replied that, amidst all the other things I'm doing, I'm simply mangaging the flow of rejection. Why try to start and company--fraught with stress, among other things--and a writing a career--fraught with its own stresses--at the same time? The truth is everything scares me. Rejection scares me the most. Rejection says, "I don't want you. Period." Think of Jennifer Aniston. No, really, think about blonde, perky, rich Jennifer who was once hitched to Brad Pitt. Now he's hitched to Angelina Jolie, the world's most impossibly beautiful woman. Pretty Jenny dumped and replaced by uber-mom Angelina. It can and does happen to everyone. But, don't feel sorry for Jenny and don't feel sorry for me. I once read a great short story about how an average Joe wins the love of a beautiful woman. The beautiful woman was tired of hearing men tell her how beautiful she was. The average Joe won her with three simple words, "You're so smart." (Okay, that's kinda 4 short words...or 3.5, anyway.) In the story, the woman isn't really very smart, but it's what she wants to hear. So, officially on the record, I welcome anyone to tell me, "You're so scared." Go on. I can take it.