The whirlwind that was the month of June left me with very little time to blog. Come to think of it, it left me with very little time to do anything other than rush from one place to another, wondering if I would ever have a chance to see my family again.
Back at the beginning of it all, I went to London, England to stand with one of my closest and oldest friends at his wedding. I’ve known Ryan since the seventh grade, we attended the same school to the end of undergrad, and he remains one of my very favourite people in the world. With our other dear friends, Bill and Erik, we four have been doing this whole groomsman thing together since 2004. This, however, was the first time that we did it overseas.
There are too many stories to tell here, and I am supposed to be writing my thesis, but I felt the need to at least nail down a few bullets on the subject of London weddings. I’ll tell the details to some of these later, but it may take few months of clearing out the old inbox to get there.
British beer is better than Canadian, but British coffee is worse. I consider myself a bit of a beer snob, so the thought of visiting a country that all but lives and dies by its ale was an exciting one for me. I relied on choosing the most obscure and the most local when presented with an array of taps, and I was never disappointed. That is, until I tried to get a cup of coffee that didn’t taste like puddle water. Even Starbucks presented me with something that tasted like a cup of tea splashed in mud.
It always rains in London, even when it isn’t raining. I used to think this was a cliché, but in five days we had roughly 36 hours of non-rain. I didn’t pack accordingly; my clothes remained damp throughout the whole of the trip, and I arrived back at Toronto weighing three pounds more due to the increased moisture content.
British houses are better than Canadian houses. Yeah, they’re smaller, and the electrical outlets are comically large and strangely shaped, but they are also old, elegant, high ceilinged, and rank with history. We stayed in a flat that was probably considered a new build in London but would have predated virtually every structure in North America.
Weddings are more fun when everyone treats you like one of their own. Being in England, this wedding featured (unsurprisingly) a lot of Brits. Canadians, representing Ryan’s family and friends, were a small contingent, while the majority of the guests were there for Debs. Lucky for us, Debs’s family was as warm and lovely as Ryan’s, and they treated us like honoured guests from the moment we arrived. I never felt like the odd one out even though I was thousands of miles from home.
British humour is not that far off from Canadian humour. The Canadian groomsmen’s speeches and the British audience’s reactions demonstrated that nicely. The highlight for me was when a guy from table 4 came up and told me that he was stealing my opening joke for his next wedding.
The term “Gate Closing” means something vastly different in London than it does in Toronto. While casually strolling to our gate on the day of departure, Bill looked up at the boards and saw that ours was closing in three minutes. We were, at the time, on the opposite side of the airport, and we had thought that we were still a solid half-hour from boarding. So we ran. My God did we run. Well, I thought we were running, but as it turned out, only I was running. I dove through the crowds, slammed my passport and boarding pass down on the counter, and loudly declared that we were here and that they had to hold the gate for us. At that point the gentleman at the counter politely told me that the plane wasn’t yet ready for boarding but we could sit down and wait for our seats to be called. I noticed then that a lot of people were looking at me. I also noticed then that none of my traveling companions were anywhere around me. They strolled in about two minutes later, not nearly as embarrassed or out-of-breath as I was. “We figured that only one of us actually had to hold the gate for us,” they explained, “and you were ahead.”