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Too much love

A girl I know vaguely posted recently on FB: ‘I have a visitor, who wants me to show her the things I love in London. Help! I can’t think of anything.’

This post has irritated me for the last 3 days. Who can’t think of things they love? I can, this very moment, think of 400 things I mildly like. Let’s say ‘love’ is 8.5 and above. I can tell you 50 things, without even pausing to think, that are a 5.5. These aren’t even things I particularly care about. In fact, they are things like being able to eat an avocado on the one day it is ripe, or managing to put the clothes drier up without it falling on my poor toe. These are things I am too emotionally lazy to muster any real feelings about. But love? Things I love in London, and would want to share with a visiting friend? Here, without any sort of thought at all, are some of the things I would suggest to this girl, if I were the sort of person who suggested things helpfully, rather than ranting about people’s inadequacies behind their back. (The two are naturally mutually exclusive).

1. The absolute terror when a mildly fat woman is standing near you on the tube, and you’re not sure if she’s pregnant or not, and whether you should offer her your seat.

2. The smell of fresh bread when you walk into a big Sainsburys,

3. The £10 tickets at the National Theatre, where I once went on a date, only to bump into the parents of one of my closest friends. The play had a simulated sex scene.

4. The free food samples in Selfridges Food Hall. If possible, wear several layers when going to Selfridges, then effect a number of cunning disguises to get more free samples.


Lounging on the deckchairs provided in any of the Royal Parks until the deckchair money collector approaches menacingly, at which point it is imperative to feign total incomprehension and a lack of English, luxuriating in your final stolen moments of comfort.

6. Pub quizzes. Because I haven’t even properly got going.

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August 8, 2013 · 11:30 am

Being normal sized

My friend invites us to a cocktail master class as part of London Cocktail Week. ‘The tickets are £15, but you get £10 off anything you buy that evening,’ she explains. ‘I can’t believe Selfridges are giving us money!’ I say, thrilled. I’m going to buy one of those enormous Grey Goose Vodka bottles you get in nightclubs, and pretend it’s normal size and that I’m a tiny person. I think this will work better as a surprise, so I don’t tell my friends. (Also I do not want them to steal my idea). As we enter the Selfridges Wonder Room I notice they have only 2 enormous bottles of Grey Goose Vodka.

I congratulate myself on my discretion, and go to buy our tickets. ‘That’s £5 each then please,’ the lady tells me. ‘Oh yes,’ my friend explains. ‘We’ve changed it. The tickets are cheaper.’ ‘That’s brilliant!’ I say. My enormous bottle of Grey Goose vodka will basically be free. I am so responsible these days. I decide to call my Grandfather after the master class and let him know. He will be so proud that I have managed to get the world’s largest vodka bottle for free. I am also pretty sure he will find my tiny person act absolutely charming. For the sake of realism, I plan on speaking only in the highest pitch squeak, which is what I imagine a tiny person would sound like to a normal sized person. I quietly practice. ‘Are you alright?’ the ticket lady asks me worriedly. ‘Yes,’ I squeak back at her. I take our tickets, and hand them to my friends. We pass through the barrier, and are offered a cocktail. I enjoy it, but am aware that if it were enormous, and therefore I could pretend to be tiny, I would enjoy it more. I don’t want to be churlish, so I graciously thank the cocktail lady for my ‘reasonably sized cocktail’. ‘I think I’m going to buy something,’ my friend tells me. ‘It’s annoying that we don’t get the £10 off anymore, isn’t it?’ ‘What?’ I say in dismay. ‘Yes, that’s why the tickets were only £5,’ my friend explains patiently. I stomp off to sulk by the wall. On my way there, I notice that in the wall are several miniature bottles of alcohol.

‘I could get those and pretend they were normal sized and that I’m a giant person!’ I think delightedly. I congratulate myself on my adaptability in the face of adversity. I practice my gruffest growl. I notice the ticket lady looking at me, and quietly walk away from the wall. ‘It’s because I’m normal sized,’ I grumble to my friend. ‘No more cocktails for you,’ my friend replies nervously. I think about explaining, but the constant change in register has wrecked my voice. I stand and quietly watch the master class, and wonder how on earth I’d speak if I’d bought both the tiny and enormous bottles of vodka.

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