Thursday, August 31, 2017

Henny penny

Hola amigos, long time no blog. The wedding is soon approaching, and I plan to blog the honeymoon (a month in Italy, I so can't wait), so I thought I'd better fire up the typing fingers again and check if anyone's still out there (echo... echo... echo...)

Last weekend, I had a whirlwind overnight trip to London for a low-key Hen's Do (that's a bachelorette party to my American friends). This was mostly the initiative of my friend Liz, who has recently finished breastfeeding and therefore returned to the Land of the Drinking. I was completely in the dark about what was planned for me, just hoping that it wasn't going to involve public humiliation or strippers.

I arrived in London on Saturday morning to gorgeous sunny weather and soon found my friend Caroline for a cheeky 11 am drink, and then it was off to pick up the keys to our Airbnb. London is notoriously expensive, but I had found a reasonably-priced place right off Brick Lane, a trendy and gentrifying part of East London. However, we were literally standing outside the address I had been given when I checked my messages and found that we actually had to head to a different address, about a 10 minute walk away. I'm not sure whether the bait and switch was to do with the actual building being rather less salubrious, or whether it was perhaps an illegal subletting of government housing (why not both?), but the actual location was less than prepossessing.

Our home for the night
And on the way into the building, this sign gave us great confidence:

I feel slightly better now I've noticed it was more than a year old, but it wasn't really what you want to see 
Well, safety in numbers and it wasn't actually too terrible inside, so we quickly dumped our luggage and hurried off to lunch on a lovely rooftop terrace, where we were joined by Liz, Amber and a pitcher of raspberry Tom Collins (omg, I never knew such a thing existed, be still my beating heart!)

After lunch, we had to rush back to the apartment for a mystery appointment. Laid out on the table were fishnets, a fascinator and long black gloves, so I guessed pretty quickly that we would be having a private burlesque dancing class. Now, the incorrect address had been communicated to the teacher, via her agency, in advance, necessitating some last minute calls to give the actual address. This meant, kind of understandably, the poor woman was absolutely terrified when she turned up. I think she thought we were deliberately luring her into a seedy estate where no-one knew where she was.

She came in, dressed much as you would expect in a sort of Amy Winehouse style - tattoos, short leopard-print dress, rollers in her hair - and plopped down on the very low sofa (affording us a good view of her knickers) and begged for a few minutes to compose herself. Again, I can understand her feelings - she was all alone, the address changed, the building was pretty sketchy and in a bad neighbourhood... but she proceeded to use the next 10 minutes to complain about how uncomfortable she felt and how relieved she was to see us, coupled with vaguely racist stories about another occasion where she had to give a class to a room full of "overweight black women". She repeated several times how they were black and overweight, just in case we missed how terrible this experience must have been, and then threw in some bonus remarks about being catcalled by Asian men.

Finally, she declared herself suitably recovered and stood up and started pulling off her clothes. Thankfully, she stopped at a pair of spangly hot pants and a tasselled bra. Just as the class was about to begin, she shouted "there's a siamese cat!" staring behind us at the window, 7 storeys up. We stared bewildered for a moment until it became clear that the cat was some sort of an apparition. "Did we know any of the history of the building?" Unsurprisingly, we did not. "There must have been a lot of cats in here, I can feel them." Poor Amber had just taken a mouthful of champagne and it was a good minute before she was able to stop laughing long enough to swallow it.

After these colourful beginnings, the class itself was actually not too bad. Even though it's not exactly intense dancing, it's harder than it looks to be graceful (let alone sexy, thankfully none of us were taking that part too seriously). As Caroline said, it's hard to know how to review it, since we had a lot of fun despite her being an absolute copper-bottomed loon.

Excited to be all dressed up

Sexy ladies

Fun times!

We swept up as best we could before leaving, but I suspect they'll be finding random feathers and wondering what the hell we were up to for some time to come

The rest of the do was positively sedate by comparison. After showering and changing, we headed to a local comedy club, which was amusing enough, then grabbed a bottle of wine and a classic drunk kebab to enjoy on the walk home. The bottle of wine proved too ambitious, since once we got back to the apartment we were all ready for bed at the grand old time of 11 pm (in fairness, it had been a long day, and it was midnight Belgian time).

The next day consisted of brunch, a wander through Spitalfields market and a quick drink at King's Cross before hopping on the Eurostar and back home to watch the F1 and be terrified by a GIANT spider that had taken up residence in the kitchen sink in our absence (Julien had also gone away for the weekend). Definitely a weekend to remember - and no strippers (unless we count crazy burlesque lady)!