Foot & mouth

I’ve been here just over a week now, and I’m really starting to feel the London love. It could be the sunny weather and the centuries-old architecture. It could be the adorable little girls with English accents I hear singing on the tube. Well, all of those things are playing a part. But the main reason I’m starting to feel happy here, is my feet.

Before I arrived, I fantasised about the stylish outfits I’d wear while swanning around London. I’d stop double-decker buses in their tracks! My more sensible friends warned me that style wouldn’t cut it. Shoes, they told me, had to be flat and practical. So, I took their advice on board. I bought the most gorgeous, sequined flats you’ve ever seen, and a cute pair of sandals for all the picnics and garden parties I’d be immediately invited to. I was London ready!

Well, they lasted two days. Two days before my feet were in absolute agony. Gorgeous sequined flats do look wonderful, but it turns out they’re not cut out for long walks to the tube, seven flights of stairs down to the platform, seven flights of stairs back up, and then the walk to wherever you’re going. And cute little sandals offer little support as you wander aimlessly around London, wondering where the hell Buckingham Palace is, but refusing to consult the map, in case anyone realises you’re lost.

So this week, practicality won. I sucked up the little dignity I had left, waved farewell to my fashionable ideals, and bought myself some sneakers. Pink, of course. They break every style-rule I’ve ever adhered to and make me look like an awkward 14 year old girl, but my god, they are comfortable. Like pillows for my feet!

So I was taking the tube home tonight, enjoying my well-supported feet and generally feeling pretty good about things. Standing in front of me were a couple, holding hands and smiling at each other. Lovely, I thought. The man – let’s call him Beardie – leaned in for a kiss. The woman – let’s called her Blondie – gave him a quick peck and laughed. I swooned. Romance! On the Underground!

But then, it started to get weird. Beardie kissed Blondie on the cheek. Then, he kissed her on the eyelids. Weirdo! Then, and I am not kidding you here, he started to lick her face. That’s right. HE LICKED HER FACE. ON THE TUBE.

I was appalled. But like a car crash, I could not look away. When Beardie began sucking on Blondie’s nose, I started to wonder if he was going to eat her face right off. I mean, there’s public displays of affection, but a public display of cannibalism? That’s surely not OK!

When he started chewing on her jumper, I began laughing out loud. And here’s what I learned on the tube tonight – licking your girlfriend’s face? Acceptable Underground behaviour. Laughing out loud while standing by yourself? Crazy, apparently.

And if public face-licking is some weird British dating custom, book me a flight home, stat! At least I’ve got comfy shoes for the trip.

A novel idea

I’ve always identified with the main girl in the chick lit novel – but I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? She’s always a little bit insecure, unlucky in love, unconvinced about her appearance and prone to emotional chocolate binges. An every-woman, I guess.

She’s also usually a writer – most often, she works for a chic women’s magazine, but very occasionally, she’s a journalist. Just like me!

When I decided to move to London, the chick lit coincidences seemed clearer than ever, and this blog was born. It’s a bit of a scary concept – who knows what the next year of my life will bring? And, will any of it be interesting enough to share with the world?

But the first day totally went to plan. Wearing a floaty dress and stylish sunnies I strolled down gorgeous, flowering London streets, finding a cute little pub across from a park and setting myself up with a salad, a gin and tonic, a great view and my iPad. Searching for jobs and feeling fabulous, I drew the attention of the barman. A charming, friendly guy who offered advice on where to live, filled me in on his travel adventures and engaged in some mild flirting. Perfect! Perhaps not the one I’ll end up with at the end of the book, but definitely a great supporting player – and one with the potential to give me free drinks!

So far, so good. I was just starting to think this really could be a chick lit life, when a headline this morning took my breath away. Flicking through a magazine, I stumbled across the article, ‘Has the Gap-Year Killer Struck Again?’

Crap… I hope I’m in the right novel.

Flying solo

It’s easy to spot the single girl at the airport – she’s the one wheeling all her luggage into the toilet cubicle with her.

Traveling solo is no easy feat. First, there’s the tear-soaked family farewell, before taking a deep breath, hoping like mad you haven’t forgotten your hair straightener – or your passport – and walking off, alone, through the international departure gate. Then it’s just the simple task of sitting in a tiny seat for the next 20-plus, hours, watching back to back crappy rom-coms (yes, New Year’s Eve did suck just as much as I’d hoped) and praying desperately the girl sitting next to you might get up for a pee soon, so you can go too.

Needless to say, it was an economy ticket. I dream of one day being told I’ve been upgraded to business. Imagine, spending the whole trip being waited on, sipping champagne and lying down flat for a sleep! Hobnobbing with celebs and smirking at the cattle class passengers as they walk past! Friends have told me it’s happened to them. Even my beautician back in Perth had a story of a kind lady at the check-in counter granting her an upgrade. But how do you make it happen? The only thing everyone seems to be sure of is that you can’t wear jeans. No denim, instant upgrade. Bull, I reckon. I’ve made the less-than practical choice to wear dresses for all my recent trips, smiled winningly at the check-in chick, and been rewarded with diddly squat.

Which brings me to my prevailing thought of the trip – it is impossible to look good for a long-haul flight. Well, impossible for me, at least. I got on that first plane with my hair straight, some makeup on, even a funky little scarf to brighten up my outfit. Twelve hours later, with the first leg done, my skin was flaking off my face, my hair was defying gravity and the scarf was abandoned in the wake of alternatively searing and freezing temperatures – though my outfit was dressed up by a nice smear of something that the flight attendant assured me was scrambled eggs.

As everyone knows, it’s at this point, when you’re looking your absolute worst, that you run in to someone you know. Usually someone you’re desperate to impress. In this case, a popular girl from my high school, who I hadn’t seen for more than a decade. She looked great, of course. As I self consciously tried to smooth my hair and cover my dress, I grinned like an idiot and talked loudly to try and distract her from my state of appearance. Only later, in the toilets at Dubai, did I realise I’d had a massive bit of food between my teeth the whole time. Awesome.

Seven hours and another three rom-coms later, I finally started the descent into London. The descent into the unknown, really. No job, no family, no idea what’s coming next. I was hit by delirious, exhausted panic, wondering what the hell I was doing and wondering why my hair had gone from sticking up, to being plastered to my face.

But I’m here. Jet lagged, scared, and just a little bit excited. The Spice Girls sang last night. The sun is shining (though I hear it might rain later) and cute British children are playing in the park across from where I sit.

Let the adventure begin.