Boom! Kapow! Explode!
These are the sounds I awoke to on the couch of an apartment in Camden’s Maiden Lane Estate. “Estate” is the Englishy way of saying “housing project,” and those sounds were coming from homemade explosives, thrown into someone’s garden by local thugs in an effort to shut up a yipping dog. Because thugs clearly can’t stand when dogs make loud noises, unless it’s because they’re exploding.
I thought this was entirely normal, so I stretched waaaay out (or rather, I contracted back into the tiny ball in which I’d learned to contort myself, having been sleeping in places no more comfortable than the back of a Volkswagen for most of my journey to the left side of the road of the world), and went back to sleep. “Only in Camden!” I thought.
I didn’t actually think that, because I had no prior conception of what or where Camden was, or even that I was actually in it (innit) at the time. Anyway, I think I was in Camden. Camden’s in Northwest London, says Wikipedia. I want to say that, the day before, we walked around Camden Market, which was like a giant Spencer’s gift shop, but with more techno and dildos and technodildos and rave music and people wearing flared-out punk jacket-vests that I thought were cool in high school, but now I just think they’d prevent you from leaning against nice things or else you’d scratch the paint off of those things. There were a lot ironic stormtrooper t-shirts for sale.
I bought a cap, but was completely out-haggled by the shopkeeper when I noticed there was no tag on it, asked him “how much?”, he said £15, and I said “OK” and took out my wallet. One of our local friends on the trip then explained to me how I’d fucked it up, and I explained that first of all, I know, but also I have no idea how to haggle with foreign currency because I still don’t know what things are worth in pounds unless they’re measured in pints.
I went inside a rave megastore called “Cyberdog.” You could hear the house music from this place reverberating through the ground, well before you could actually see the entrance. So what I’m saying is it was almost as loud as being in an Abercrombie & Fitch. Only, instead of mostly naked pictures of people all over the walls, there were naked sculptures of cyborgs just about to start banging each other, pretty much everywhere. Four floors of this, descending below ground, each more R-rated than the last. It was a Wachowski brother’s nocturnal emission (the one who’s still a dude). In a nutshell, it disturbed me in a way so deeply that I can’t talk about it anymore. This, right here, is it. This is the last I will ever talk about Cyberdog, for the rest of my life.
The reason I “want to say that” I was at Camden Market is because I’m pretty sure I was there, and I have pictures of it, but I don’t seem to have written about it in my travel journal. If it’s not in there, it didn’t happen. So, disregard most of what I wrote above.
Before I wrap this one up, a note or two on accents and faking them, as promised.
I came across a number of British folks, both in conversation and via eavesdropping, who expressed the opinion that their people can, by and large, fake a great American accent with ease, while Americans suck at doing fake British accents, and also at everything else.
Now, it’s true. A lot of us cannot pull off a good fake British accent. There are a few reasons. For one, you British have a shitload of dialects, accents, etc. So do we in America, but they aren’t all jammed together in a small space to the point where a non-local couldn’t possibly draw any boundaries as to who has which accent and where. The Trip is a great study in this (doing British accents — for celebrities, anyway). The result is that, when we try to fake the accent, we’re set up for failure, because there isn’t a “the” accent. Our knowledge of British accents is therefore an amalgam of all the ways we’ve heard British accents in Guy Ritchie films, strung together in a sentence.
For the sake of some kind of comparison, here’s a fake British accent, followed directly by a fake regional American accent:
TV brings me to my next point. It’s the only reason the British can do the one kind of American accent they can do: non-regional broadcast American English, AKA, General American. And you’re good at it because it dominates your entertainment media, as it does for us. If Americans watched the Ricky Gervais office instead of the Steve Carell version for the past eight years, we’d be pretty good at faking your accents, too.
Also, your fake American accents suck. They sound stiff and Canadian.