It’s such a surreal feeling being in London. For the most part, it’s remarkably similar to being in Australia. You tend to forget you’re overseas until you walk past a historical landmark that you’d previously only ever seen on TV or you almost get run over by a double-decker bus. It’s those little sobering moments that bring you back down to earth and make you realize just where you are. We’re in London baby! And it’s @*£#ing great! But for all the monuments and all the history, it’s the little things that I will always associate with London. It’s the squirrels that emerge from bushes and playfully bounce over to you in search of food. It’s the law that allows you to consume alcohol in virtually any public space, even when your traveling on the underground tube or sitting in front of the Laundromat waiting for your clothes to dry. It’s my consistent mispronunciation of countless suburb names. It’s Rahj, the overly friendly dentist who fixed my tooth after I snapped half of it off on one of our cameras. It’s the uncanny popularity of Peter André. It’s things like these that I will always remember when I think back on my time in London in years to come. And I will also remember with fondness, my time spent meandering around our hostel. Watching UK pay TV, drinking in the bar and trying to cook meals with the limited resources available to us at the time…
“Have some faith. It will work.” Proclaims Mick as he jiggles the large frying pan handle protruding out of the hostel stove griller.
”You can’t cook eggs in a grill, man.” I argue.
I’ve always been a pessimist.
There is only one hotplate on each of the two stoves in the kitchen of our London hostel and about 200 guests. Do the math and you’ll come to the obvious conclusion that people are always waiting to use them. It’s times like these when a little improvisation can be very beneficial. Instead of joining the long line of people waiting for a free hotplate, Mick opted to take a gamble and try and cook our eggs by putting the frying pan inside the griller.
A group of Spanish girls giggle at our pan full of raw egg white.
I tell Mick maybe we should just wait but he reiterates that I should have faith.
He jiggles the handle again as a heavy French accent greets us from behind with “G’day mates!”
”Bonjour!” We reply in harmony.
Over the past couple of weeks we have made it our mission to spread a bit of Australian culture by teaching our friend Antoine a number of bogan Aussie phrases and in exchange, he has been teaching us some French.
”Is that going to work?” The Spanish girls ask us mockingly, pointing to our grill.
Mick shrugs his shoulders and jiggles the handle. The eggs are still transparent. He turns the grill up to full temperature.
Someone asks Antoine a question in French that we don’t understand.
“I don’t give a rat’s arse” He states with nonchalance in his best Aussie accent. He’s a quick learner.
Two weeks ago there was no need to cook our own eggs. Two weeks ago we had money. That is, until we spent all our savings on full English breakfasts and copious amounts of booze. You see, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and when you’ve never traveled before, you tend not to appreciate the importance of being frugal with your money. That is until you realize you’ve pissed it all away and have to change your diet to bread, water and the occasional delicacy of some eggs. But now that we all have managed to find ourselves some bar jobs we shouldn’t be living in near poverty too much longer.
Suddenly Mick’s face is enveloped in a huge grin.
“It’s working.” He declares smugly.
The Spaniards stare in disbelief as Mick proceeds to serve up a perfectly cooked egg feast.
“I call it grill frying.” He says. I pat Mick on the back and apologize ever doubting him. No matter how many times Mick proves himself to have uncanny MacGuyver like improvisational skills, I still tend to greet his eccentric schemes with pessimism.
As we prepare to leave the kitchen we notice that both grills now contain frying pans full of food, one of which belonging to the doubting girls.
“I think this grill frying thing could catch on.” Mick comments as we walk out with Antoine right behind saying “I can’t believe that worked. @*£# me dead.”
Go Aussie, go!