Though I am still very much a stranger
, I feel at home on its streets in a way that I did not in Cape Town
. This is because the paranoia
levels are so much lower. there is so much less private space, and the public space is so much more user-friendly.
This reminds my of the surveillance cameras. I don’t know if this contributes to the comfort zone, but it’s there. Between home and work I am probably imaged 10-20 times. One day I looked up at a streetlight mast and realised that it wasn’t a streetlight, but a camera-nest of about six of them, covering a busy intersection.
Though I breath easier in London, I don’t breath easier: My lungs are often closed up, and I get lots of minor sniffles
A friend back in Cape Town thinks that I am depressed. Reviewing Are you depressed or just full of angst?, I’m not sure. There is certain desperation, angst that has receded from my mind lately, and that makes it worthwhile. I miss Cape Town a bit, and that will no doubt get worse in the coming months, when it's cold and dark here.
There are times a few years ago when I was depressed, when I felt as empty as a bucket with a hole in it. This is not like that.
When I say stuff like ‘squashed in the Tube is all the human contact I need'. I’m aware that this is not the best state of affairs. I just don’t feel like working hard to change things right now. I know what I want and I know what I’m doing. Having that is worth a struggle.
Has London lived up to my (admitedly low) expectations? In many ways it has exceeded them. Work is not as exciting as I would like. But I like the place more than I thought I would. Failure to thrive here would be better than being there, as at least an effort would have been made to change. The things I don’t like can mostly be summed up as 'IT Downturn' and that is beyond my control and not local to the UK.
The world is so much smaller than it was in 1992, when I last tried to live here. I have SA news websites and email whenever I open a web browser.
I went out with a girl a few years ago, who told me that her previous long-term boyfriend used to get drunk and violent with her. I asked why she put up with it. She said “my father is like that – I thought that’s just how it is’. When I calmed and stopped being just appalled down I realized that childhood is the ultimate normative experience.
A britnoder said to me “must have been weird growing up in South Africa.” No, childhood is by definition normal, even when it’s not. What’s weird is when you realise that the oddness that you see in a foreign place the normal situation, and what you are familiar with is the aberration.
I think of another girl with whom I have occasional email contact. I think her father also has Alcohol problems. The children don’t often admit that. Ok, maybe some cultures do. I’m beginning to realise the gulf between the English English and their offshoot – that particularly stiff upper lip standard-bearing proprietary of the would-be upper class colonial petit bourgeoisie that characterises the English speaking Capetonians.
To get back to this woman, an ex of hers thinks she’s now in an ‘abusive relationship’. Sour grapes? Maybe. But sometimes the children are drawn to these relationships, as it is familiar. And as that same sour-graped ex remarked, they can subconsciously feel something missing, wrong, when they don’t get abuse. Somebody, tell me if I’m wrong here?
By now I’m tired of my recent Pixies phase, and am listening mostly to The Flaming Lips. The Soft Bulletin is good, though growing on me more slowly than Yoshimi battles the Pink Robots, but it may have as much staying power. I especially like these lyrics: Driving home, the sky accelerates and the clouds all form a geometric shape. I have been there.
Also listening to erm, Mechanical Animals for some nice Angst and derealization. I’ll try get some Sigur Ros from amazon next month, when my debit card will have arrived.
My brother says he’s depressed. My abandonment, or just his own chaos and detritus?
I have found a winning strategy for warcraft III: set the difficulty to 'easy'. It's much more fun, but takes away the illusion that I coulda been a contender.