Alex is a 22-year old bloke living in London who is currently having the time of his life... or not. He writes this travelogue as he roams around London's cobbled streets looking for new experiences... searching his real identity... enriching his life... searching for love.
So apparently, it’s about this bloke named Adam who is a gay guy with an extraordinary story. His story breaks borders, as he narrates his story of falling in and out of love, from the bustling streets of Manila to the English pubs in London.
Eric: Better read this Josh. You might relate to this, especially since he’s in London right now.
That got me hooked up. So for the next two days, I did nothing but to read, and read, and read… on the Tube, on the bus, during break at work, and at school… I just read like I am some athlete running like hell to the finish line. Good thing T-Mobile’s internet never failed me. But sometimes, having an actual book to read while on the Central line can be great, as with other commuters on the Tube. So I think I will buy a copy of it if it were to be published.
I’ve craved for every upcoming chapter. It had a drug-like effect, wherein I get restless when Adam didn’t update for 2 or more days. All the while, I’ve preached like a prophet to my cyberfriends so that Adam can have a couple more followers.
And yes, after two days, I finally finished all three books. It wasn’t easy, as I started reading it like a week before my final exams, and yeah, you know how my priorities were slanted to anything not related to revising and studying.
I might stick out like a sore thumb, but Book 3 is my favourite book. I’ve asked some of my friends, and they said that they can’t relate much to it because it’s in a different setting altogether. They were still clinging to the fact that Andre might come back, or Brandon might change his ways. However, it’s just the total opposite for me.
Before I hear protests, I’d like to say that I also fancied Adam’s adventures as he fell in and out of love in the urban jungles of Katipunan and Makati, but still… London’s different. I almost died when I was reading the part where Adam and Lorenzo were dating in Trafalgar Square, as well as when Adam and Jagger were having the time of their lives in the Big Ben and the London Eye. Mind you that after reading the post about Adam and Lorenzo, I headed off to Trafalgar Square with Falling Slowly playing on my iPod while doing some reflecting. What is fanboydom.
As much as I’d like to shout it all out, no one can understand my delight as Adam portrayed the places in the most visited city in the world very accurately. From the adventures in Hammersmith, Acton Town, and to the escapades in Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Kingston upon Thames, I just can’t stop smiling as his descriptions were totally spot on.
Adam, Wei, and Jagger. Yes, as Book 3’s my favourite book, it should be proper that all of my favourite characters come from his London tales.
Wei… this cute barista boy in Costa Coffee just made me swoon for reasons I can’t really comprehend. Was it because of the Twister game… or was it because of his very cute face hidden behind the black rectangle that’s covering his eye?
And there’s Jagger. The guy who built walls to hide his true nature. Adam successfully transformed this hard-hearted guy into a kind and caring man. There was a month-long debate happening between me and my friend since he was in Team Jagger, and I was in Team Wei. But then, as soon as Adam posted his date with Jagger at Modern Tate, the tides have turned. I finally conceded.
I do have to ask myself… how can I relate to Adam? Well, aside from the fact that he went to London to study (just like me), he’s the type of bloke who isn’t up to one night stands. He’s a person who wants a genuine relationship… a situation of giving and receiving to the person whom he cares most about. And his optimism for the world. Since it still has this tendency to treat us like we’re some freaks of nature, Adam narrated his story to show that gays can be loved by their parents, friends, and other peers.
There are a couple of things I got from reading WBMB aside from the fact that I have to go and visit Windsor Castle and drop by to the nearby town of Hounslow. It has given me hope in pursuing love. Adam’s chronicles had taught me that love can come from all places, and unexpected ones at that. It has also given me hope about gay relationships. Rather than giving us the stereotypical descriptions of how a gay's mind works, he portrayed himself as someone who has a mindset that a gay relationship can just work as well as heterosexual relationships… it just needs time, effort, and a little bit of optimism.
And how did it change me? Let’s just say if it weren’t for Adam’s blog, Josh the Travelogue Boy wouldn’t exist. I was satisfied hiding in the comforts of my dummy YM account and talking to a few PLUs. Adam changed that altogether. He made me think... if he can tell his story, why can’t I? You see, I’ve been blogging since 2005, but it’s just now that the drive to write became stronger…. To share my experiences to other gay bloggers out there.
Even though Adam returned to Manila already, I still know that deep in my heart, that a few months ago, in the most diverse city in the European Union, something magical was happening in the high streets of the West End.
And now, if my life can only be just as exciting as that.
Amongst the thousands of shoppers doing some last minute shopping at Oxford Street, I finally saw him. With his grey trench coat and black cap on, he was there, at the middle of the footpath, waving at me.
“I kept on calling you! I was looking all over for you in here.” I tried not to say it as if he was my boyfriend, but the thought was just too hard to resist.
“Sorry sorry… low signal at the basement. Haha!” Art thought it was just a joke. I was already freezing while waiting for him outside the GAP store beside Oxford Circus.
“Fine. It’s madness in here,” I said. “We have to go someplace where I can breathe.” Thousands of Londoners were battling it out for the last stocks for the upcoming Christmas and bank holidays. Since the snow prevented them from buying their gifts, last minute shopping became their sole option.
Art needed to buy some stuff for the kids at his place. Damn. Is this where all of your Christmas bonuses go to? I have to kill you, spending at a time of austerity.
“Wanna buy some cheap ones? Let’s go to Trocadero then. They have small bazaars over there,” I said.
“Sure, but I’ll follow you. I dunno how to go there from here.” What the hell… he should know this by now… he’s been in London for almost 2 years already!
We traversed on the small streets, since Regent Street was jampacked. After a few minutes, we finally arrived at the famous Piccadilly Circus, and above it was the Sanyo logo with its brightness on full force.
Jesus, there seemed to be more people than usual. Hundreds were waiting outside the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum for their turn to get inside. Beside it was London Trocadero, a large arcade and gaming complex.
“Are you sure?” I asked again.
“Yeah I am. Unless you have a curfew, then it’s fine. Haha,” he jeered.
Another impromptu film watching…. Haha good thing Art has this affinity to fantasy and young adult fiction, like me, so he decided that we would watch The Chronicles of Narnia. The worst part was, Art’s gonna pay for my ticket. He said that it was his Christmas gift to me. Jeez, I hate these kinds of signals… Mixed signals I mean.
“I dunno what to say. Nakakahiya. Don’t worry, once, I have more money with me, I’ll-“
“As I’ve said, stop worrying about it.” Art was going for his seconds already.
We were at a Chinese Restaurant in Gerrard Street that does buffet. The place felt really funny because of two things. First, it’s because finally, I am in a place wherein I can fit. Well, I don’t really look 100% Oriental, but to most other nationalities, they think that I am from one of these three countries: China, Vietnam, or Thailand. Um, no Philippines?
Second, we’re only 1 or 2 streets away from Soho, London’s gay district. Actually it can overlap because gay bars can be found in the outskirts of Chinatown already.
The Chinese resto we’re eating in was the cheapest we can find. Buffet for a fiver? Not bad. Compared to the ones who 8 quid or more, sans drinks.
As usual, being the nosy bastard that I was, I kept on pressing him about his career and about this girl he met from a dating site. Seriously, I still find it hard to believe the latter one. No pictures on FB, no status updates, nothing. If Gene, Tina, and I would press him about this, he would just laugh and show an innocent face, even though if his mind is as dirty as a landfill.
He still isn’t saying anything. He just talked about his career progress. I keep on hearing good things from him, like how he can be offered a job at a British bank. And as expected, he was doing his jobhunting through connections. I was a bit tempted to ditch him during that moment because it felt unfair for me. But since he decided to treat me, I had to stay.
“That would be 5.67 please,” the Indian guy on the till said.
“Are you sure? Can you weigh it again please?” I demanded. And true enough, the weighing scale was damn accurate. I can hear Art snickering at the back.
“Hahaha! I was wondering why you kept on scooping sweets. Children know how to portion, you know,” he said, still laughing really hard.
Since Art paid for my ticket, it’s just right to pay for the food or whichever thing he wanted. Since he wanted some sweets, we went to a candy shop and scooped some gummy worms and chocolate. 100 grams equated to 1.26. Not bad right? But as you guys can see, I think I had scooped a bit too much.
“Why didn’t you stop me then?” I was getting a bit pissed off already.
“Well I wanted to, but you’re just so funny to watch. Like a 5 year old kid who’s very excited in scooping this and that.” He was still laughing uncontrollably.
“Sorry ah, I rarely scoop sweets even back in Manila,” I reiterated. I wanted to get mad, but I just can’t. His laughter was just really irritating, in a good way. Maybe when I get home, I’ll really see the gravity of spending almost 6 pounds just for sweets.
We entered the cinema. Same format and everything as the last film showing. I could see him from my peripheral as he was watching the film intently. I could hear him laugh from time to time, but usually at the corny parts. And for me, I was listening very closely at the actors' accent, and was checking to see if they have traces of the modern one. Aside from that, nothing really happened. Told you my life’s boring.
After the show, we both headed off to Piccadilly Circus station. I thanked him and greeted him a Merry Christmas. He replied with a greeting as well, and I headed off to the Bakerloo line platform.
As soon as I get home, I really need to talk to my cyberfriends about this. I can’t take these mixed signals anymore.
I can see Tina’s face hovering above me. I got up, and checked at the window. We were apparently at a stopover on the M40.
Our school had organised a field trip to Wales. I was about to bail out because of the sudden schedule changes and the fact that I have to take a 2-day leave from my job, but the trio persuaded me to join with them. Besides, work made me yearn for some rest and quality time with myself.
The trip was supposed to be about 4 hours long, but according to our coordinator, it is UK law to have mandatory stopovers on a trip that will last about 3 hours or more.
I checked our location via T-Mobile 3G while alighting at the coach. Apparently, we are in a stopover near Birmingham.
We entered the stopover. The layout’s the same… There was a food court on the left, toilets down the hall, and a supermarket on the right. Oh how I miss the times where we used to eat our brekkie at the stopover on the NLEX.
There was a massive screen at the centre of the complex that summarises all the weather information and the stopover’s location. I quickly glanced at it. More snow upon the upcoming days, apparently. Great! But not so great if we were to be stranded in Wales.
Oh lovely. As expected, prices here are even more inflated than in London. The cheapest one I can find was a egg and bacon breakfast sandwich from Burger King worth £2.69.
As I went for the queue, what I saw just put a smile in my face.
There she was. A White British serving the customers.
See, White British don’t really take these menial jobs in London. There seems to be a social hierarchy in the City wherein the Whites would take the corporate jobs, the Eastern Europeans and Orientals would take the middle class jobs, and the Blacks and Indians would take the menial jobs like servers in a fast food chain.
“What a breath of fresh air,” I muttered. To tell you the truth, I kind of got sick and tired of multiculturalism. Whether it’s from the server’s point of view, or a customer’s, it’s very disheartening to see some nationalities leaving their manners at home. And I hate that. Why don’t they act like Caucasians?
And I swore to myself never to get a Black or a Muslim boyfriend.
Anyway, I was trying to assess if the people from the Midlands were also speaking in Estuary English, the compromise between Cockney (low form of British English), to RP (highest form of BE). So I tried to talk to the Burger King lady in RP.
“I’d like to have the egg and sausage butty please.”
“Just the but’y?” the BK girl replied. Oh, Estuary English. It seems that it’s becoming the norm for England nowadays.
“Yea, just the but’y. And can I have a bot’le of wa’er as well please?”
I hope that my accent worked for her. Lol.
It was already 10PM, and Disco night was about to start.
We had a lot of events lined up for the day. As soon as we arrived in Wales, we had a sumptuous Welsh lunch (except for our classmates who have to eat halal), went out and took some pics from the cobbled streets of Newtown, then went back to our accommodation hall for dinner and did some groupwork.
Yes, groupwork. Well, it’s not really a field trip per se, it’s more of like a workshop. We had some activities regarding the lessons we’ve learned in school, and it was time for us to apply it in the real setting.
I was a bit embarrassed by the way, as I was the only one who managed to finish that sumptuous Welsh dinner comprising of a slab of salmon, chives, potatoes, and a chocolate cake. The lot were a bit full already.
After getting the 1 pint of Welsh ale from the bar, it was time to groove and dance at the disco bar.
“Here, Josh, let me show you some dance moves.” After what might seem to be an arduous event, Gene finally had pity on me, so she decided to help.
“You dance like a duck,” Art snickered.
“Look who’s talking,” Tina jeered. Yeah, Gene and Tina were the dance maestros in our group, while Art and I, let’s just say that I don’t do this a lot, even back in Manila.
“I have to buy that Kinect, seriously,” I reacted. Gene learned her dance moves apparently from Microsoft Kinect.
After a couple more sips and a couple more songs, I started to feel a bit tipsy. Darn, that Welsh ale was stronger than I thought it was.
What I thought was disco night turned out to be a night of modern music as songs from Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas, and Usher resonated on the dance floor. The Indians were ecstatic as well when Jai Ho was played. Sheesh.
Then I saw it from my peripheral… Art was dancing like hell… well, not in a good way. He must be a bit tipsy as well.
I decided to walk towards him.
“Hey, career na career ah,” I whispered/shouted. The music’s too loud for him to hear.
“Haha! Where’s Gene and Tina?” he whispered. I shuddered though, not because of the question, but the way he asked it.
His lips were already touching my ear. His breath was warm and fuzzy. And his lips, were, um… a bit wet.
“Uh, they’re there.” I pointed towards the front. I tried to remain calm as I moved a bit farther away from him. Not that I didn’t like it (lol), but it just felt weird, coming from him.
“Come on then!” Art placed his hand on my shoulder and ushered me towards Gene and Tina. He’s not like this at all.
As the night went on, we just danced till our feet hurt. During picture taking, Art just placed his hand on my shoulder, as if we were the best of chums. It really feels weird.
“Is Art tipsy?” Gene asked me, while dancing to the tune of Bad Romance.
“Erm, I guess so… how’d you know?”
“He’s talking and blabbering in straight English, even when he’s talking to us,” she laughed. Damn that hirit. I just laughed really hard.
Since disco night was only until 12MN, we have to go back to our rooms and sleep. Call time’s early the next day.
Damn those 2 pints of Welsh ale. But then, Art was the tipsier one among us. I had to help him climb the stairs, and I had to keep on hushing him since he kept on talking.
As we entered our room, I quickly changed my clothes and brushed my teeth. I was too tired to even check my Facebook page. Art was just there staring at the window.
I looked outside as well. It was already snowing. Tomorrow, the fields will be white again.
I looked at Art. He must be amazed by the falling of white flurries.
If I were a good-for-nothing opportunity grabber, I might have taken this chance to kiss a semi-drunk guy. But no. First, I am a wuss, and second, my mind is always stronger than my heart, for some strange reason. I dunno if it’s an asset or a liability for me.
I just went back to my bed, snuggled under the duvet, and just looked at his angelic and innocent face, with his deep brown eyes staring miles away, in the hilly landscape of Wales.
It was only 5:30 when I arrived at South Kensington station. I decided to check out the place I will be catering for the next four hours.
Yes, I finally found another job that would replace my kitchen porter job in that Japanese restaurant. I’ve managed to kick it up a notch…. Catering and waiting for private parties or big events.
Ice Rink Café… this must be it.
While killing time, I decided to take some pictures and watch the people skating in open air. I missed ice skating. Last time I did it with Sarah and the gang was about 2 years ago in the Olympic-sized rink in SM MoA.
5:45. My colleague from Domino’s texted me. He’s ready to give me his smartphone tomorrow. I bought it for £170… not bad since it’s currently £350 in the market.
5:50. I entered the café. I asked the barista on the counter what I was supposed to do. She told me to just wait on the couches by the rear end.
I sat down, feeling nervous. I don’t have any experience in waiting or serving other people in a formal manner. It’s basically my first time to do this.
“Hey. Are you for the event later?” I looked around. And there he was standing just a few feet from me…. a blonde haired guy wearing a red jacket, about 5’8”, with deep blue eyes, and a boyish face. Oh my weakness.
“Yeah I am,” I finally replied. “Are you here to work as well?”
“Yea. Name’s Olya.” He reached out his hand.
“It’s Josh.” We shook hands. I felt a bit embarrassed though because my hand’s a bit cold from the weather outside.
“Are you a newcomer?” He asked.
“Yeah, my first time. How about you?”
“I think about the 7th time. And it’s my second time at this place.”
“Wow, wicked. Teach me later, ok?” I laughed a bit.
“Sure, no problem, no problem.” He smiled back. Oh what is cuteness. “Where are you from?”
“I’m from the Philippines. And le’ me guess… are you from Russia?”
“Yeah, how’d you know?” he seemed shocked but fairly amused at the same time.
“Oh, I just know how to pinpoint accents, that’s all,” I replied. Yeah, I have this thing for accents. It’s still not perfect, but at least I got his correctly.
“Wow, and your English is good as well… like a local already.” He smiled again. I felt my cheeks warm up. Dear me.
“Nah… it’s still not local sounding. It’s just 4 months since I arrived.”
“See… I am also here for 4 months as well, but I still have a lot to learn,” he sighed.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get it soon enough.” I tried to cheer him up, and it seemed to work.
We got to talk about a bit more before a few more people arrived. I counted the people who were present. There will be 8 of us apparently working for tonight’s event.
After a few more minutes, the coordinator finally arrived. He did a roll call, and then explained the event and what we have to do in a straight-forward manner. And it just sent me goosebumps.
“Ok, tonight’s event is just plain simple. You will have to serve hot chocolates and canapés to the guests here, in Alexandra Burke’s mini concert courtesy of Heart FM.”
“Who’s Alexandra Burke?” Olya whispered.
“Really now, Olya? Haha!” I snickered.
“Hey man, I’m not joking. I don’t listen to British radio stations.” He defended his cluelessness. Did I mention that I really like clueless guys?
“But still. Well, I understand, since you just arrived this year. Burke was the winner of X Factor 2008. She like, sold millions of albums since then. She’s considered to be the second most famous contestant after Leona Lewis.”
“Oh, I know Leona, but not her. I catered for Leona a few weeks ago, also here.” He said smugly.
My eyes widened. “Lucky bloke! But no worries. Alexandra is fine for a first timer like me. And you should listen to more British music from now on, yeah?”
I almost struggled at the tray of canapés I was holding as I passed by Alexandra Burke by the backstage room.
I was literally like, a few inches away from her. She looks stunning I have to say. There’s something alluring in her. It’s a very rare comment from someone who digs Caucasian blokes. Bad thing we weren't allowed to take pictures. We were only allowed to serve. Oh the perks.
After serving a few more trays to the guests, it was time for Burke to perform. The coordinator was kind enough to let us rest and watch the gig at the rear corner of the room.
As usual, she sang all of her signature songs, including a dance number medley from Michael Jackson’s songs. Her dance moves were wicked, but I got distracted by her backup dancers, especially the hunky rugged White guy at the left. Plain white T-shirt + baseball cap + black fit trousers = oozing hotness.
I tried to keep my composure, when Olya whispered again. “She has a really good voice.”
“Yeah, I agree. She dances great as well,” I replied, not removing my gaze from the backup dancer.
I was snapped back to reality when Burke started to talk.
“Here’s my newest single, and for those who know the lyrics, just sing along.”
It all went magical when her voice resonated across the room. It’s just a guitarist and her. No special gimmicks. Just her voice.
You lift me up And knock me down I'm never sure just what to feel when you're around I speak my heart But don't know why Cause you don't never really say what's on your mind
Is it just me or is the song speaking to me, as if it’s relaying a message?
It's like I'm walking on broken glass I wanna know but i don't wanna ask
I wanna know… what the hell Art is thinking, but I am such a coward to even ask.
So say you love me Or say you need me Don't let the silence Do the talking Just say you want me Or you don't need me Don't let the silence Do the talking
Don’t let the silence do the talking eh? In this situation, it might be best to keep mum for a while. Unless I am pretty sure what he really thinks, I don’t want to risk it. Friendship is fine... I guess?
But I am really getting confused. Well, no, not about my sexuality, I got that sorted out. I about how Art is acting toward me.
Sometimes, he’s sweet. Sometimes, he blabs about the ‘girl’ he’s dating.
This situation is hard, especially since all I can do is based his actions on what I know about the PLU world. I can't just ask him straightforwardly. I am such a newbie in this field. Then again, if this pagpapakiramdaman continues, it's just going be frustrating for me altogether.
Also, one has to add the fact that I am holding such naiveté in situations like these. I have skeletons, well hidden at the back of my wardrobe. I dunno how to act whenever my heart feels fluttery or something.
“Hey Josh, we’re finished. We can leave already.” Olya tapped my shoulder. I think I was pondering too much that I didn’t notice that the gig was over.
We scurried to the backroom to get our stuff, and we then put our coats on. I felt fulfilled as it was a nice first catering experience for yours truly.
Olya and I went out the café and braved the icy winds outside.
“See ya, Olya. I hope I can work with you again.” I waved at him as he headed off the bus stop near the Natural History Museum.
“Same here Josh. Take care, yeah?” He waved back. As soon as he alighted on a bus, I headed off the Tube station, with the same thought lingering on my head ever since Burke sang that song.
As soon as Dermot O’ Leary announced the winner, Tita Rose went wild. As in really really wild.
“Yes, yes, yes! My manok (bet) won! Third straight year, baby!”
I snickered silently as I watch my uncle, aunt, and her friends scream and shout as their bets battle it out for the crown. I was in my uncle’s friend’s house in Peckham watching as well, since we don’t have a telly in my place.
I find it funny that they watch The X Factor and other British shows like Britain’s Got Talent and other BBC or ITV shows. Most Filipinos here in the UK fancy the TFC more, so it’s a breath of fresh air for me to watch with my tito and tita.
The X Factor is big in Britain. It’s the television juggernaut like American Idol in the US or the Philippines. With over 20 million people watching Matt Cardle being propelled to superstardom, it’s a great celebration indeed.
Beep. 1 Message from Art. Yey! Matt Cardle won! His voice is awesome!
Yeah, yeah! Good thing he won! He’s wicked! Sent.
Beep. 1 Message again. I thought you’re for One Direction?
Yeah, I am for One Direction, but technically, Matt is the most worthy contestant to win it all. Sent.
My bet’s Matt Cardle ever since the first few live shows, but then I just wanted the boys to have a shot of winning, since no group has ever won The X Factor before.
But then again, Matt is the man to win it all. Here's the song that, for me, made him the favourite to win the competition. It really gave me goosebumps.
Yeah, I know, cute boyish looks are my weakness when it comes to choosing bets. That’s why I kept on rooting for Joe McElderry over Olly Murs, as well as Archuleta over Cook.
A bit of One Direction history. These 5 boys started out as individual contestants, but they didn’t manage to get past the boot camp stage. Simon Cowell saw a potential in these boys, and he didn’t want to let their talents go to waste, so he decided to create a five-member boy band instead.
My fave guys are the two lads on the left. Boyish looks really make me melt. Lol. What about you guys? What are your picks?
Yes, I know what you lot are thinking…
I am a fucking paedophile.
Anyway, I will leave you guys with a British song. It’s the newest single from Matt Cardle “When We Collide.”, which became the Christmas No. 1 on Dec. 18.
It was 7:30 in the morning. Who the hell is calling at this time in the morning? I checked to see who it was.
It was Tina.
I picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Hey Josh. What room are we in later?”
“Room 33. What’s up?”
“Is it snowing there? It’s snowing heavily here…” she said. I looked outside, and there it was. Flurries. I was about to scream, but then, I remembered my 2 roomies sleeping on the top bunk.
“Yeah, it’s snowing here as well!” I whispered excitedly. “I’ll see you in class, yea?”
“Ok then. See ya Josh!”
I kept my composure as the bloke beside me kept on eyeing me. No, I didn’t think he was checking me out.
I bet he was finding it funny that I’m taking videos and pics of the snow from inside Bus 68 bound for Euston.
See, for a Filipino, snow doesn’t come by naturally. Our Christmas time is like, what… 30 degrees Celsius? And how cold is it to be for snow to form? About 0.
It’s practically my second time to experience snow… First time was 2 years ago, in Europe as well.
All the while, I thought that Britain doesn’t experience harsh winter conditions. Well, that was what the locals have thought as well, 3 years ago. Basically, warm current from the Atlantic keeps the Isles warm. However, maybe because of global warming, the warm currents started to dissipate, and the cold Arctic wind started to push the harsh weather down to the continent 2 years ago.
So poof. More snowy days to come, and I am really giddy about it. Not so much for other Londoners.
More delays, more cancellations, more disruptions.
But for me, snow keeps me relaxed. Back in Manila, I like the rain because it emits a special soothing feeling that keeps me cosy. Snow has the same effect for me here.
And good thing I left a bit earlier than usual, since traffic was hell en route to Elephant and Castle!
“It’s like we’re in a snowglobe,” I said to my marketing professor after class.
“First time to see snow, yeah? Yeah it’s pretty, but after a while, it will be a pain for you to go to your appointments,” she said.
I have to say, snow is still snow. It is the time where snow angels can be made on the floor, and the time where skating on the open air is the in thing.
“Hey, let’s eat! I’m starving,” said Art. It’s only Tina, him, and I in class. Gene was moved to another section, so we won’t be seeing her this term. Sad boy.
And guess where we ate…. Nando’s. Again.
Nothing really much happened aside from doing some catching up. We were about to go out when Art’s mobile beeped.
1 New Email
As he was reading his mail, Art’s face changed from being giddy to being serious and apprehensive.
“What’s wrong Art?” Tina asked.
I sat beside Art and tried to find out what the message was. As I was reading it, I think my face also changed. It’s from the school.
“Dear Mr. de Guzman,
Starting today, you will be transferred to Block C. Here is the new timetable… (cont’d)”
I just stared at the mail in disbelief.
I won’t see Art for the whole term. This is… madness.
“We apologize for the severe delays happening on the Central Line because of a fatality in Tottenham Court Road.”
As the announcement resonated along the place, gasps can be heard at the platform in Marble Arch. I could just imagine the horror people were witnessing as someone was just lying there, crushed beneath the train just 3 stations away from us.
I was in that area because I was supposed to return a pair of leather shoes that I bought from Primark, but they deemed it “unsellable”. Grrr.
Not to sound mean or anything, but I am running late for work, and this fatality is causing all this hassle.
It is not uncommon to hear about people killing themselves on the Tube. Last week, three fatalities were recorded on a single day. It is my first time to be on the line itself, experiencing delays because of someone who jumped just a couple of minutes ago.
Goodness. Is London really that stressful?
Yes, it is.
One of the fatalities last week was found out to be in a state of crisis when his business was going bankrupt.
I don’t have anything against them. It’s just daft to drag thousands of people along with their personal problems. All of the suicides last week occurred during rush hour. Major delays on three lines seriously crippled the aging transport network.
Today’s no exception. Great. Why don’t they do it in the comforts of their own home instead? I was just about to exit the platform to catch a bus instead when an empty train zoomed and gradually stopped inside the station.
“This train is ready to depart. Stand clear of the doors please.”
Finally, after 10 minutes, the train finally continued its journey. Yes, I will just be in the nick of time to work.
As the future is getting mistier by the second, I just hope that my soul would not end up wandering around the dark and damp underground lines. Good vibes, good vibes.
“I wish you the best,” Mike said as he helped me open the door.
“Thanks, Mike. Take care!” I said. With 2 big paper bags and a backpack, I headed off to the bus stop just around the corner.
It was my last month staying at his place. For those who forgot, Mike's my first landlord here in London. He's openly gay, and he's a great guy to chat with. Too bad our schedules don't really match well, so our only bonding time would be watching the X Factor performances and result shows.
His place is wicked I have to say, but £320 per month is just too much for me. I have to scrimp if I don’t want to burden my parents anymore.
I started moving to my new place a few days ago. It’s a house situated by the main road in Camberwell. It seems that I have to get used to the noise outside.
For £175, I managed to slash like, 40% from my current rent expense. Then again, I have to share rooms with 2 other Filipinos. No more quality time for myself.
I’ve already met them. For those wondering, I don’t dig them… at all. Our hobbies don't match up and they keep on talking to themselves in their dialect, thus I can't understand them. Be a bit more welcoming will ya?
Hay. When can I meet someone here who can debate in any topic, and travel with me to Glasgow?
Maybe after a few months, if I manage to remove my deficit, I can transfer to a gay flatshare. Lol
“Yeah, I am. So if you’re not coming, then, no problem, I’ll just watch alone.” Art was persistent.
It was kind of sudden, just like the last friendly meet-up in Kensington. This time, he was inviting me to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with him. He invited Gene and Tina as well, but they’re lazy to go out today, as they were working all day yesterday (that's what he said).
So, apparently, it would just be me and him again…. If I say yes.
“So, what? I need to check if there’s a showing in The O2.”
“Fine, fine… See ya later at 2PM, North Greenwich.” Wow, I just blurted it out.
“That’s great! See ya later then. Bye!” Beep. Silence.
It has been a few weeks since I last saw him. I still remember the incident in my house. He knows all of my Bare songs. What could it possibly mean, really?
I can’t blame anybody else if I were to fall for the same trap as other gays out there. Constantly pursuing a ‘straight’ man. Oh the thought of it is cringing in its own way.
1:30PM. Damn, I am too early again.
I was walking inside The O2 Arena. London’s version of the Araneta Coliseum never failed to impress. Restaurants can be found on both sides of the pathway. And it's awfully more spacious than The Dome, threefold.
World class events are held here. Take for example the ATP Finals Tour being held this week, where the top 8 tennis players from all over world gather in this massive tournament.
Growl. My stomach was rumbling as I was window shopping for ATP memorabilia. Bad timing.
I had to settle for Nando’s because it’s the cheapest resto I can find.
I took out my mobile and replied to Art’s latest message. Meet me in Nando’s. I’ll eat my lunch first.
“Yum, yum, creamy mash!”
I heard Art’s voice getting closer as he walked to my table. He’s looking as dorky as ever with that coat he’s wearing.
“Wait, just let me finish,” I said as I gulped the last spoonful of the resto’s signature mashed potato with butter.
"Long time no see! How's it going?" Art took a seat opposite mine.
"Heto, still job hunting," I sighed. As much as possible, I wanted to find a new one that would replace my kitchen porter position.
"Nah, don't worry, you'll find one soon. Just don't give up your job until you're not assured of another one."
"Yea, I know. I have common sense, you know. C'mon, let's go then! Next show starts at 3PM."
“Sorry, your student cards are not valid. We only accept NUS cards,” the ticket seller said.
I handed the money in disbelief. Students were supposed to be entitled to a discount when buying film tickets, but apparently, they don’t accept our IDs. So we had to pay about 1.50 extra.
The snacks were expensive as well. 2 large cups of Coke and a large popcorn for a tenner…. 700 pesos down the drain. And yes, I still convert up to this day.
We entered Cinema 7. It was as big as the cinemas in Eastwood. Oh I miss those. One ironic thing is that it’s hot and toasty inside, so we can take off our coats and jumpers.
I was a bit too excited in blabbering to Art about how British adverts differ from the ones in Manila. The screen was crystal clear… no lines at all coming from the projector. The way of showing trailers was different as well. In the UK, it will be trailers, then adverts, then trailers again. And yeah, it took like 20 minutes before the show really started.
“Oh! It’s Shaftesbury Avenue,” I exclaimed to Art. Harry and the gang were walking past by the famous Sanyo logo in Piccadilly Circus.
I felt embarrassed though as a few of the film viewers looked at our direction. I think I said it a bit too loud.
“Shhh Josh! Act like a Londoner. Haha!” He seemed to be enjoying my embarrassment as he kept on snickering on the side.
“What can I do? I’ve been to that place! I must feel proud!” I reiterated.
“Haha, suit yourself, mate.” He then messed my hair up playfully. I can feel a tingling sensation from my heart.
As the show went on, it seemed weird but magical at the same time when we laughed at the funny scenes at the same time. Like the time when the trio infiltrated the Ministry of Magic. We kept on laughing and looking at each other.
My heart kept on fluttering when our hands sometimes brush whenever I had to get a handful of popcorn. He didn’t mind, and I didn’t mind as well. I swear that I was not doing it on purpose.
And then, after Voldemort grabbed the Elder Wand from Grindelwald, the lights were back on.
“Come on Art, please?” I pleaded.
We were back in the booths outside The O2 that sells ATP memorabilia. Since Barclays are the main sponsors of the tournament, account holders can get a free USB. I was pleading him to get one for me.
“Nah, I am shy to do just that. Ever see people redeeming them?” He pointed to the booth. There wasn’t any queue at all.
Tsk. After a couple more minutes of persuading, I finally gave up. I just went to the shirt section to look and window shop.
“Hey Josh, since it’s still early, wanna go to Canary Wharf?” He was walking briskly towards me.
“Fine, I guess. I just wish I get to watch Federer and Nadal battle it out,” I said with disappointment. Ticket prices are at £20 the minimum.
We were walking outside Canary Wharf station. It’s basically like London’s version of Makati or Fort Bonifacio. Tall corporate buildings were housed there, with businessmen from all backgrounds walking past us on their way home.
“I’ve been dreaming of working here,” I blurted out. We were strolling inside a park in the middle of the urban jungle. I am currently working as a kitchen porter and an order taker. If I had stayed in Manila, would I be working like a corporate yuppie in Paseo de Roxas?
“Same here. I really can’t believe that the future is getting bleaker,” he sighed. News came out last week that the British government are planning to decrease net migration drastically by cutting the routes to permanent residency and citizenship.
“Well then, if we are not welcome here, what can we do? Let’s just move to another country then,” I replied. The Christmas lights in the park were flickering, as if it’s motioning me to think about my decision very carefully.
“Can I ask you something Josh?” Art said in a very serious tone.
I froze up. I didn’t know why, but there was something in this tone that made me think that what was coming was a dreaded question.
“Where can I buy some combs? Tita’s asking me to buy one.”
Pucha. That’s it? Why say it very seriously?
“Well, let‘s go to Boots then.” I pointed to the Jubilee Place Shopping Centre, just a few yards away.
After buying his comb, and strolling a bit more, it was time to go home.
“Take care Josh, see ya in the second term,” he said.
“See ya, Art.” I gave him a hi-5 before we parted ways. His hands were a bit bigger than mine. It felt warm as well. Lol.
It was such a tiring but fun day. I was about to fall asleep in the DLR train to Lewisham, when my mobile phone beeped.
1 Message from Art
Hey Josh, thanks for today. I really enjoyed it. Take care!
I tried to think what to reply so that it wouldn’t seem too obvious, but in the end, what I’ve come up was so generic that I felt bad for myself.
Same here Art. What a great day. Take care as well. Cheers!