Tag Archives: living in england

She Found Him

Personal Bits

Families. What balls of secrets so tightly wound we are. Time has a tendency to loosen these secrets, no matter how angry or disgusted they might make you feel.

It’s about an hour before T-giving dinner and most of my family (cousins, second cousins, aunts, uncles, etc) are congregated on the autumn-hued, idyllic front porch of my uncle’s Bed and Breakfast in Kinmount. In a lull of the conversation, my religious, neo-conservative aunt throws down a photograph on the table. In it, my cousin is smiling, her head touching the head of a young kid.

“She found him. On Facebook,” She says, matter of fact.

“Oh?” I say, taking up the picture. Not getting it. Both are smiling ear to ear. Are they in love?

“She searched him and found him, sent him a message and he replied back saying he had known of her for some time but didn’t know how to start talking to her.”

I’m even more confused. Was this her new husband? The kid looks half her age. I didn’t recall any break up email or super-poke from her on Facebook letting me know that she was newly single. I’m piecing together a puzzle with boxing gloves on.

My other cousin from a different aunt says, “No! That’s amazing!” and takes the picture from me.

“Muh. Yes. Wow!” I say, utterly faking the moment. After the aunt making blithe comments about these two meeting up, the photo goes back into her purse. Pause. The conversation shifts.

Later, much, I approach Dad with this odd exchange. Apparently this cousin had a child in her teens (un-wed) and gave him up for adoption and had recently reunited with him via the internet. There’s way more to the story that I will not recount for respect out of all those involved but when I got all the “details” it was similar to sitting through a soap opera recount episode while someone punched at my liberal sensitivities. I had heard nothing of this, having been living in England around the time it happened.

And now I understand my neo-conservative wing of my family better. Approve? No. Just understand.

England Memory #4 – Knife Fight Edition


My first weekend in London, my brother and his boyfriend invite me down to their neighbourhood to experience my first English pub, outside the touristy Earls Court area. The Prince of Wales pub, just outside the tube station at Brixton (now closed down, I think) was smoky, loud and packed. My brother forced me to buy a round of drinks from my fast dwindling finances, just so I could experience bar service in London.

I had 1000 questions, like “Is the beer really warm?” (yes) and “Do I tip?” (is the barman sexy?) and “Am I going to have to buy all the rounds, every time?” (no, maybe, yes, how drunk are we?), but instead my brother just thrusted me towards the bar and let me experience it as it was.

Which was really why I was in England, really. I was a 21 year old green kid fresh from Ontario, living in England on advice from an OCAD recruiter, who thought if I was serious about being an artists, I needed to get away from my middle class life (I wasn’t accepted into their school, BTW).

Over the din of the bar, I shout the orders at the barman. He shouts back. I falter. I have no clue what he just said. The noise and his Scottish accent throws me. My first real Scotsman! He has a red goatee! I tipped him.

I went back a few times to get rounds for our table. 11pm came way too fast and I wound up spending most of the evening chatting up the barman, which lead to us making plans to go back to his place after they closed up the bar. My brother was upset that I had been in London for a week and managed to “tap off” so quickly.

We get back to the barman’s place via a cab that travelled deeper into the south of London (more south than I’ve ever been). Lovely house. Could barmen afford houses in south London? Did I care? We run upstairs, enter his bedroom, shucking clothes like they were on fire. Did I notice that the bedroom was full of cardboard boxes? Did that matter?

We’re about to get into the real meat and potatoes of shagging when the frond door the floor swings open.

“Stay here,” he says and grabs his shorts, leaving the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. Naively, I lay back and wait for his return, not even wondering why he would stop our coupling to go talk to his “flat mate”.

Muffled noises come from beyond the bedroom door. Louder muffled voices. Louder muffled voices punctuated with breaking furniture. Glass breaks. Shouts.

At this point, my pants are on and I’m heading for the top of the stairs. The barman is on his way up, with his chest covered in blood. I don’t see any cuts on him so I don’t ask where it came from, but he offers up an explanation of sorts: his boyfriend (“You have a boyfriend?” “Donnae everyone?” “Were you going to tell me?”) came home unexpectedly and after discussing their current living arrangements, had somehow managed to shove himself through the French doors that lead out from the dining room. As I descend the stairs, I can see that most of the furniture is at 90 degrees to whatever angle it should be at. No sign of the boyfriend, thankfully.

As the front door closes behind me, I manage to ask: “Where is the nearest minicab from here?”


I did manage to find a cab. And relating the story back to my brother nearly got me shipped back to Toronto.