Church on Sunday

Trip Start Nov 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 21, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, November 10, 2006

Most of the people who I worked with in Ios were Australians who flocked to Greece over the summer as either a break from, or a warmup to, working in London. Spending two months I got to hear a lot of things about the city, places to go, things to do. And the one thing that kept coming up was, Church on Sunday. Church is a bit of a quiet bar where, on Sundays, people come to casually close out their weekend and catch up with friends. Wait, did I say quiet? I mean the opposite of quiet.

Church, on a Sunday, has to be seen to be believed. This should not be taken as an endorsement. Church is located in the "Australian" section of London and its clientele is pretty much entirely Australian, Kiwi and Safa. And what a classy establishment. There's sawdust on the floor, mostly so there's no slippage when the staff falls behind on cleaning up the vomit. Most people there were dudes and the few girls that were there, well, they're the type of girls who'd be attracted to a club that's mostly dudes that find throwing up in the bathroom to be a boring and unnecessary social constraint. There's strip shows and national drinking contests (the US didn't have an entry) and all sorts of other good stuff. And of course Australian beer. Nothing like a little Victoria Bitter to make you feel like you're at home. Finding Church is easy -- get off at the Kentish Town Tube stop and follow the trail of drunken Australians.

In summary, it's a cultural experience. And that's why I had to see it. Actually, I wouldn't have been heartbroken if I had never gotten to experience it firsthand, but on the Sunday I happened to be in London, it also happened to be Amy's (as in Ios Amy) birthday. The day was almost over before it started at the twins' place with Lloyd whinging about being sick (solved by Jimmy repeatedly telling him to stop being a "fucking idiot") and then being unable to put in his contacts. We finally made it out to Church a little before 3, which doesn't sound so bad, except it shuts at 4 and there's an obnoxious 6-quid cover charge. We met up with Amy and Kelly (also of Ios fame) for the final hour, where Church most definitely lived up to its reputation. Again, this is not meant as a compliment. Once Church closes, most of the Aussies move off to the Walkabout in Shepherd's Bush, but my group (all Aussies) couldn't cope with that, so we went to another bar before going back to the twins' for our own little Guy Fawkes' celebration. Because what's a better way to cap a Sunday session than with fireworks? There isn't one, actually.

The next day was my parents' final one in England. For their last hurrah we went to Buckingham Palace, where you can't get all that close and the guards move (so disappointing) and then the art museum in Trafalgar. We wasted too much time upstairs looking at the weird religious art and not enough time downstairs where the masters like Monet, Manet, Renoit, Degas and Van Gogh are located. All the while, I was trying to figure out where I would be sleeping that night. I had secured Lloyd's apartment -- a flat located above the bar where Jimmy is a cook -- but I was hoping to move on from London since I'd have to come back anyway when I flew home. The plan had been to go visit either Aoife (from the lunatic group I shared a hostel room with in Dublin) in Birmingham or Sophie (from my Australian East Coast swing) in Manchester, but with neither getting back to me, it looked like I'd be grounded in London for a couple days.

The free couch at Jimmy and Lloyd's came with a catch. Because they were getting free rent as part of Jimmy working there, they weren't really supposed to take on freeloaders like myself. This meant that I couldn't let myself be seen too early and couldn't come back until the pub had shut at 4. After a nondescript day of walking around cut short by crappy -- or by England's standards, typical -- weather, I spent a day walking around London Tower. It's a cool castle complex, made cooler by the fact that it's right in the middle of a modern city (between Athens, Rome and several Eastern European cities, should I get over this? Nah), but at 12 pounds I would only enjoy it from the outside. Same goes for London Tower and its 8-quid admission. That night -- which I had found out would be my last in London for the time being -- I dragged Lloyd out with me to meet Aimee (from the Mt. Wellington climb in Hobart, Tasmania; try to keep up) at Yates in Leicester Square. I had become quite notorious at Yates, getting kicked out of there for no apparent reason the night of the Church session. Apparently I had left enough of an impression on the bouncer for him to give me one of those obnoxious, "Now be a good boy" comments. Wanker. And in the morning I was off to Canterbury to hang out with another friend from the road.
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