Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Starbucks, Leicester Square, London

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Service: * *
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * * 1/2
Babe Count: * * * * 1/2

So, okay, this is London. But you know, the only thing this Starbucks has that any Seattle Coffee Company in Joburg doesn’t have is the extraordinary mix of nationalities.

“What would you like?” says the blonde behind the counter. She could be Polish. Maybe Bulgarian? Slovakian?

In this entire place, I’ve heard about twenty foreign accents for every British accent. Which might not be all that relevant, seeing as this is a tourist haven.

“May I have a tall harmless latte?” I ask.

“Almond?” she asks.

“Oh,” I say, “uh... harmless... meaning, decaffeinated, skinny.” I’m thinking in Seattle Coffee Company terms. I would have thought Seattle would have stolen their terminology from Starbucks. Apparently not.

I’ve been wandering around on foot, popping into electronics shops, bookshops, coffee-shops, and I have to say that the ratio appears to be consistent. London seems not to have terribly many Londoners in it.

What it does have is a serious dedication to babeage. This is outstanding. But I’d say that Cape Town edges this place out on the babe front. See, in Cape Town, the gals understand skirts and dresses. They understand that makeup does NOT make the woman. Here, probably cos of the weather (which is slightly chilly, mid-spring), jeans and chunky, clunky things seem popular. And makeup probably covers blackheads caused by smog.

Another foreign Starbucks employee babe calls out in a thick accent, “Tall skinny decaff latte?”

I take it and sit down.

It’s only my second day here. So I may still see many things.

This morning I popped into SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the London University. They’re the folks who paid for my airfare. I’ll be talking tomorrow afternoon about “Why South Africans Read their Poetry on Tablecloths Instead of Books”. This refers to my Barefoot Press initiative.

I’m the first person in the world to have released poetry anthologies hand-printed on cloth. Tablecloths. Napkins. Cushion covers.

And I’ve got a whole bunch of cloths with me to sell to the academics at the conference.

This afternoon I took a stroll down to Liberty, a high-end decor shop. I went there to get a realistic price to charge for the cloths. Looks like forty to sixty quid is about right. Which is similar to what they’ve been selling for in South Africa. So my instinct was right.

Monday, May 16, 2005

My Flat, Cresta

Monday, May 16, 2005

Service: * * *
Food: * * *
Ambience: * * * *
Babe Count: N/A

This is one lightning quick update, seeing as I've got to get my suitcase packed. I'm flying to London tonight for two weeks. I've been invited to talk about Barefoot Press and alternative poetry distribution in South Africa at a SOAS literary convention. Their topic is "The Social Context and Literary Production & Consumption".

I'm at the podium on Thursday 19 May at 4:45pm (GMT). This is the title of my paper: "Why South Africans Prefer to Read their Tablecloths than Buy a Poetry Anthology". And I still have to actually write the damn thing. I have the outline, but still need to get the details in place. But that's what palmtops and airoplanes are for.

I'm also about to head out for a quick business meeting. A friend's father is keen to take his business into Africa, and I was called in to write the franchise documentation. Suffice to say that I could easily see that his franchise model wasn't going to work. So I called in a friend of mine, Jan Grobler of Curator. He's a franchise maven, and he's taken more than 15 South African businesses to success in the last few years. My meeting now is to show the franchise agreement and get a signature.

If I get the signature, I don't have to worry too much about being broke in London, cos I get a small commission, and I'll be involved later on in this project. I LOVE the fact that being an ex advertising copywriter gave me a huge business-book shelf, and tons of knowledge. And now I'm starting to leverage that knowledge. Time to get wealthy and start making my personal motto come true: "I live my art in prosperity and abundance."

On the love front, it looks like polyamory might finally be working for me. I'm actively dating both M and J, and both of them know about the other, and both are more or less cool about it. M is less cool about it than J, but we're talking about it. Cards on the table, basically.

What's different about this attempt at the experiment is that I'm actually fond of both M and J, and it's not just about the sex. In my previous attempt, I had found two women who were willing to try polyamory, and I thought, "Hey! Cool! I'd better have relationships with these women!!!" Instead of saying, "Do I WANT relationships with these women? If these women WEREN'T okay about polyamory, would I STILL want to be with them?"

On the Hawaiian ka huna front, I've cleared out my diningroom, I've bought a heater, I've bought hand towels and sarongs, I've borrowed an old Creative Nomad MP3 player from my buddy Charl, and I've ordered a ka huna massage bed from a company in Cape Town. When I get back from London at the end of the month, I'm hoping it'll be here waiting for me. I'll be starting to offer two to three massages a week then. Yay!!! Can't wait!!!

Right now, I've gotta go and shower, eat some musli, do some prep for this franchise meeting, and then rush home to pack. Damon's giving me a lift to the airport, and I'll be staying at an hotel in London central for the first four days, and at my best buddy from grade 2, Paul, after that. Hopefully he's going to show me how to have a good time in London with the seventy-nine British pounds I have. (But it's cool. I also have a credit card. Only slightly strained.)