Here I am, in the UK for the first time since *peers at watch*, oh yes, November 2019. That can’t be right, can it? Has the pandemic really wiped out that much time? Weirdly, though, it only feels like five minutes since I was last here. Perhaps that’s a sign I’ve done jack shit with my life for the last two years.
So what news from England? I wouldn’t know. I’m trying to avoid all news while I’m here, just as I do at home in Bulgaria. (2020 nearly broke me, you see, and I had to give up reading the news for my own sanity. Now I only go on my phone to look at food and mountain pictures on Instagram. It’s very therapeutic. Being informed is highly overrated.)
But from what friends and relatives manage to squeak out – before I hold up my hand and yell ‘I don’t want to hear about it’ – it’s all a bit depressing. The climate is screwed. Incels be murdering people on the streets. It’s date-rapey ‘back to university’ season, this year featuring drugs being injected – yes, injected – into women in bars. There was an embarrassing little snafu with petrol supply, in which the general population did not show their best selves. Nothing is Brexit’s fault. You know, the usual.
I’ve been having a jolly old time, though. Catching up with folk. Eating my way through the range of vegan cheese on the market. Meeting babies that were selfishly born during my extended absence. Worshiping at the alter of Wagamama. Good times. I just have to ignore the twats not wearing masks in shops and on public transport. (Look, I know it’s not mandatory to wear a mask these days, it’s a personal choice. I just believe everyone’s personal choice should be to wear a mask, okay?)
My main complaint is it’s so busy everywhere. True, I was here for half-term week, which is the 10th circle of hell at the best of times. But there are people everywhere, even now in the week after half-term. Who are all these people out in the middle of the damn day? I mean, I know I’m out in the middle of the day, but that’s because I ran off to Bulgaria and chose the life of a mortgage-free, part-time, lazy freelancer. Who are all these other people?
Every shop is full, and people are spending, spending, spending like there’s no tomorrow. (I’m sure there are lots of people struggling financially because of the pandemic, but you wouldn’t know it to look at the average shopping centre.) The woman in front of me in M&S was buying 58 items at the bargain price of £497 (I do enjoy snooping at other people’s tallies on the tills). Even if she was doing her entire Christmas shopping in one hit, that seems excessive, no? Who are all these super-rich people plodding around every afternoon, and, more importantly, how can I become one? Answers below, please.
Even the roads are heaving. I genuinely don’t know if I could cope with driving around Portsmouth these days – and I drove my arse across Europe. Again, who are all these people driving around at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in their shiny cars?
Every café and every restaurant is also full. At this rate, we’ll be able to build new houses without kitchens because everyone will either eat out or have Deliveroo bring them food. Deliveroo will now even go and pick up your Costa coffee or a pint of milk from Waitrose and bring it to your door.
(I’m sorry, but no one is so busy they don’t have time to get off their arse and go pick up their own fucking coffee. Is this seriously the kind of society and economy we want to build? One that’s based on paying people on zero-hour, low-wage contracts to go and pick up our cup of coffee or a pint of milk for us? It’s like we’re living the prequel to some dystopian movie where humanity has gone to shit. The prequel to WALL-E maybe? One minute humanity is having their coffee delivered to their sofa; the next we’re all 600lb jelly babies, zooming around a spaceship on hover beds, wearing onesies. You heard it here first, guys.)
Aside from that rant, I’ve had a lovely time.