(5) (3 votes)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Mar 30, 2004
"Necesito el mundo, para dar mi
vuelta. Mas, consigas, mas que das. ... Necesito el mundo, para
dar mi cuenta." (transaltes to: "I need the world, to
give my turn around it. But, you get more out of it than you give.
I need the world to give my story.") - Soda Stereo
Sometimes, searching for work in an unfriendly foreign city can
be tough on a guy. But, then, he puts on a little of the Argentinian
'80s sensation, "Soda Stereo," on the earphones, and he
gets rocked out into being all smiles again.
Incidentally, the last job I didn't get was as a bar-tender in an
'80s nightclub. I'm renting a room and searching for work in a northern
English city, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (pop. 500,000). (I originally
reported the population was 400,000, but I'm now saying at least
500,000 people live here.) (Seeing as how I obviously had no idea
about my facts the first time around, you'd have to be awfully foolish
to believe this second number.) (But, I'm writing it anyway, because
I know some of you are.) (For example, one of my friends is actually
called "Tonto." (translates to: "Fool.")) (This
just in: expect that last population figure to change soon.)
Yes. I, who says, "Long live the Queen and the '80s,"
who still thinks girls ought to wear sweat-bands and big, hair-sprayed
bangs, who - for god's sake - has discovered bands in other LANGUAGES
tht sound like "The Cure" or "Depeche Mode,"
didn't get the '80s bartending job. I didn't get the job because
I'm not a legal worker here in England. It's all very annoying.
In most countries, I woudl've had a job by now. It's just, the English
like to set and follow rules like nobody else. Life is quite orderly
here. Whoever wrote the song, "Anarchy in the U.K." (another
'80s reference? or not quite?) must've been talking about a United
Kingdom pre-school play area, because that's the only place you
won't find Brits lining up in - how they say - "queues."
Interjection!: if you're bad at doing a fake English accent, here's
a Modern Oddyseus tip. Just say, gently, "There's a queue (pronounced,
"kyoo," not "kyoo-ee-ooey") for the loo."
It can't fail.
England, in addition to soccer hooligans and Lu's in queues for
loos, is the world's greatest manufacturer of signs. When commercial
business-owners aren't immediately attending to a customer, they're
busy writing notes on paper and taping them to their windows. The
shop-windows are cluttered with blocks of useful information. Some
stories you can barely see into. The signs will say anything from,
"Bathrooms Are For Customers Only" to "Bar-Staff
Needed" to "Now Open From 2:00 pm On Fridays" to
"I Was Bored, So I Thought Our Window Needed Another Sign"
to "Thieves Are About" to "CCTV In Operation."
CCTV is a video camera system that almost every private business
owner in England has turned to to try to encourage thieves not to
be thieves. The cameras are in every shop, always watching. Rob,
who gave me a ride before when I was hitchhiking, was really freaked
out about all this CCTV, and I don't blame him. He felt this was
an intrusion into people's privacy, similar to that George Orwell
book, "1984." (There we go, another '80s reference! ...
okay, okay, even if the book wasn't WRITTEN in the '80s.)
Rob said, and I quote, "It's getting so that they'll be able
to watch you ALL THE TIME! I mean, soon, I won't even be able to
share a romantic moment with my wife, or steal a pack of cigarettes."
- Ha, ha. I'm just kidding. He didn't say that.
But, yeah. I had a job interview today. The interviewer showed me
the way out afterwards, but I spotted the bathroom on my way, and
so I ducked inside to do my business. But, then, it occurred to
me the place probably had CCTV. Anyone could've been watching me
just then, and it frightened me. I mean, something like this could've
gotten me deported, for using the loo without actually being a customer
- that is, I suppose, if they weren't going to deport me already,
seeing as how I was trying so futilely to get a job here.
And that wasn't even the worst of it! It occurred to me that, as
I was hovering over the urinal, a well-placed camera shot could've
revealed to ANYONE out there a view of ANYTHING. Even - how they
say in England - my "dinghy" - or, how they say in Scotland
- my "glonger" - or, how they say in Northern Ireland
- my "hamflammigan." I tried my best to hurry the procedure
along and got out of there.
Some of these signs in England are just ridiculous. It's as if sign-makers
believe they can "save the world," and all it takes is
enough carefully-placed signs.
My Greek flat-mate, George, noticed an especially unneccessary one.
In a park, a sign read, "Please No Swimming And No Drinking
From Park Pond." The water was a polluted brown; you'd think
that'd be sign enough.
But, the signs do help keep things "orderly." There are
many signs in Newcastle, there were many signs in London.
Many people in northern England dislike London, the big city. However,
I actually felt London to be a friendlier place than Newcastle.
In London, people would make eye contact as you passed. In London,
strangers would talk and joke to you more.
Newcastle has its own accent and its own culture. For example, the
people here are out partying every night as if it was some huge
occasion. It's quite cold yet, but the girls go out in short skirts
and low-cut tops. The guys wear short sleeves, and few people bring
coats at night. On their way to or from a club, they just stand
around freezing, which is pretty amusing to watch, actually.
People from Newcastle are called "Geordies." This is because,
during a long-ago revolution that occurred in England, Newcastle's
province was the only one that remained faithful to the king. It's
kind of funny, when you think about it. How did they see things
differently from every single, other area in England?
The king's name at that time had probably been "George,"
hence the Newcastlarians' nickname. It kind of seems like every
king England has ever had was called "George." Or, for
that matter, "Henry." Or "Richard." The "Richards"
were always the ones in control when England got invaded, it seemed.*
The "Henry's" were always fat. And, the "George's"
all just seemed like bumbling fools who shouldn't have been made
rulers in the first place.
What kind of a name is "George" for a ruler, anyway? George
sounds like the stubby, old guy in the pub who's sitting next to
you, grouchily, and still has salt and vinegar on his chin from
the evening's fish & chips meal.
Oh, my. What am I talking about!? MY country's ruler is currently
Except, if he was in the pub, I think he would have all the kegs
of beer securely in his corner, where he'd be sitting with his friends.
Maybe a guy named something like "Tony" would have a few
kegs. And "Tony" would be kissing "George's"
cowboy boots. Everyone else in the pub would hate them.
... Okay, okay. This nonsense has got to end! I've gotta find myself
Long live the '80s and the Queen Mum! - Modern O.
Thanks to George; and Jeff & Sandy for the rides!
* - footnote: You must remember that everything said here has no
actualy basis on English historical fact, English historical knowledge,
or anything really. If I was given a mile for every tidbit of English
historical knowledge I possessed, I wouldn't have enough to take
me the eleven miles** across the English Channel to France.***
** - I have no idea how many miles it is across the English Channel.
Or if Fran****ce is on the other end of it, for that matter. It
could be Bombay, what with all the Indian restaurants in Britain.
*** - If England ever had a king named "Jean-Claude Pierre,"
and then France came in and easily conquered Britain, I think we'd
know something was up. Especially - ha ha! - when you consider France's
**** - *****!
***** - CCTV Is In Operation.******
****** - I was bored, and so I thought what this story needed was
******* - Isn't this nice and "orderly?"