On Thursday I got to meet fellow postgraduate students in the Centre for Cultural Studies, inasmuch as one can meet and get to know people over welcome drinks in a bar where the music seemed to get louder every half hour. The most surprising thing was how many of us were not British. As an undergraduate in the US, I got used to being just about the only foreign student in most classes. Here I've had to look hard to find any UK citizens. Don't ask me to try looking for Londoners.
Having said that, on Friday I hung out at the Design Museum with a Londoner friend whom I know from Singapore, her sister and the latter's two kids (one toddler, one baby). There is something reassuringly ordinary about hanging out with kids --- and eventually going home with everyone to feed and put the kids to bed before we could have our wine and dinner --- that made me feel more like a grown-up, less like a student again.
On Saturday an old friend from Singapore summoned me to drinks at the last minute. So I was out with two gay men and skipping from gay bar to gay bar. (Not literally skipping; it was pouring rain and everyone we passed on the street looked sodden and sad.)
Today the delightful Stellou and her husband hosted what they declared would be one last sausage-packed barbecue for the year. I got there too late to partake in the grilling festivities, but there was plenty to eat, including three desserts by the gracious hosts (and a fourth that a friend brought) and a bean/pea/goat's cheese mix that I fell in love with. I think I was suckered by the bright green beans and the occasional surprise of lardons in their midst.
While Stellou was scrubbing a grill pan afterwards, I updated her on all the rather grim Singapore news of late: the death of a young Singaporean undergraduate, apparently in an awful hit and run accident in London earlier this week, and the passing just yesterday of Kwa Geok Choo, the wife of former Singapore prime minister and statesman-at-large Lee Kuan Yew. Maybe because the two women were connected to the UK in some way (Kwa studied law at Cambridge with Lee), I feel a little odd to be here in London receiving the news --- some kind of mental/geographical displacement, but I can't quite say what.
Oh the poor families.
Gonna be gloomy this week. We're supposed to get "more than half a month's rain in three days", according to the BBC.