Another bout of illness has struck me down (that's not the bad news), so I've been noticing a lot more around the house of late, and reflecting on my life rather a lot. First things first, London is a harsh place, and you need to be tough to live here. Don't get me wrong - I still love London and strangely, it will always now be one of my homes, but what I've realised is that even though there are parts that are such fun, often the bits I truly enjoy could be neatly lifted into pretty much any location on Earth, and I would still enjoy them just as much, because they're more about the people than anything else. I'm lucky enough to know some amazing people here, and to count them amongst my true friends - a rather incredible feat considering that three and a half years ago I knew nobody in London at all. And there are rather a lot of dreadful people in this fair city. Although, to be fair, probably no more than in any other city anywhere else in the world. There are just a lot of people here, living in a place that was never meant to hold this many people, so the dreadful ones are more obvious.
As a fitting example, take a Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, when I headed down to Aragon House to watch the rugby with a few girlfriends. We failed in an epic manner on the rugby watching, not even pretending to make noises about bothering to move from our table to make our way into the room where the TV was. Instead, we sat round a table and gossiped. And even though the bar held some annoying people, and was actually a highly irritating bar in itself, I had an absolutely fantastic time. Thanks to my friends.
This was my first trip to Aragon House, and I had been warned that it was not a fun environment - but by someone whose opinion I wouldn't normally bother with, so it was with an open mind I went along. And sure, the bar was full of Sloanes, but hey, they're only people. People with funny hair, sure, but still just people. It was just like any other bar, in terms of clientele - some annoying, some not. I have no doubt I've annoyed many others on multiple occasions.
No, the really dreadful thing about this particular establishment is something that should actually be obvious from the name, but I never connect names to themes. Aragon. As in, Catherine of. The whole place is a mess of pointy pseudo medieval doors, uneven flooring, and inappropriate word choices (Ye Olde Chicken Burger does not exist. I cannot have been the first person in the world to have noticed that). I was also disturbed by a visit to the bathroom that led me down some dark, uneven stairs and pitched me up in front of a couple of pointy pseudo medieval doors, one reading Catherines, the other Henrys. Eugh. There's no need for that. In Aragon's favour, at least this was obvious - not a witty* coy picture (peacocks and hens, anyone?) or terrifyingly confusing (one particular trip to an Auckland institution comes to mind, where I spent a good few minutes hovering in the hall, second-guessing my judgement, completely unable to decide between the door labelled Joy and the door labelled Bong. I was so relieved when my instincts proved right).
So, the point of all this. Annoying people everywhere. Annoying places everywhere. But also, and most importantly, amazing people to balance all this out. I'm lucky enough to have them scattered all over - England, New Zealand, America, Australia, France, and on, and on - and wherever I am and whatever's going on, I know I can rely on them, in a way you just can't rely on annoying people.
Annoying people like...Dave. Dave who has really let me down. After the constant noise emanating from Dave's fake-leather-couched, mirrored-ceilinged, slick-with-hair-gel apartment, you really wouldn't think he could let me down any further (or in fact, that I had ever built up any expectations regarding Dave at all) but he has.
You may want to sit down.
Dave doesn't exist.
H1 (who, since I got sick, has displayed a stupendous show of support and solidarity by spending almost as much time in our flat as me) ran some late night investigations at a time when the rest of London was sound asleep, but we were awake, thanks to the mellifluous strains of Dave's bass. Except it wasn't Dave's bass. Because there is no Dave, and it wasn't next door, it was the flat below us. The noise and vibrations from that flat are so loud, it reverberates up through our walls, making it sound like it's coming from the apartments next door (ah, the house built of cardboard strikes again).
Of course, I didn't believe him when he told me, but further investigations from both of us have shown it to be the nasty, upsetting truth. Since that moment, both H1 and I have spent our days and nights wandering in the kind of semi-dazed state of confusion you would expect from two people who have had their entire world rocked. The way I would expect you to wander for the rest of the day - except no need really, because I'm sure nobody thought about Dave the way we did. Sad. But over it! RIP Dave.
*Oh I did an asterisk. I'm sure I don't even need to put it in - surely you've worked out that it is, in fact, not witty?