Baby’s day out in London

For someone who only has three friends, I have actually been quite social lately (by my standards anyway). I spent the whole of January and February in my room, only leaving to replenish my groceries and toiletries. In the last week of February, I finally ventured out of my house and off to London I went. I had booked myself a ticket to finally see Cirque du Soleil. I had the chance to go years ago when I was in university, but I couldn’t find someone to go with me (actually, I don’t think I asked anyone) and I didn’t feel like going by myself. I regretted it afterwards. When I saw that Cirque du Soleil was back in town, I decided to go see it, come rain or shine. None of my friends were interested so I booked a ticket to go by myself. This was booked back in 2021, so I was just waiting patiently.

A friend of mine had a birthday in early February and I did not get to spend the day with her, so our mutual friend (and some of her other friends) decided to do a surprise dinner outing. Luckily, it was on the same day as the circus show so I only had to make one trip into London. My show was at 3:30pm, and I was hoping for dinner at 6/7pm so I could be safely back home before it was too late. Alas that was not to be. First we had to decide on the restaurant, and this took a while because we needed a pretty place that was also available to book. Covid restrictions have been removed and everyone is outside! We decided on a restaurant and the friend booked it for 9pm. NINE O CLOCK IN THE NIGHT TIME! Oh my Lord. I saw the message and just put the phone away; a case of see no evil. I attempted to salvage things by booking a Japanese BBQ place for 7pm but it was decided to stick with the original booking. The restaurant was selected because it was “pretty” which is really the primary criteria in booking a restaurant for a birthday dinner. I searched for reviews online and saw a few comments about how the food does not match the decor. I collated these comments to send to my friend to let them know that all that glitters is not gold and to sway them away from this place, but in the end I decided to just go with the flow. You have spent the whole year so far alone in your room, go out and spend the whole day outside. So I smiled and said see you there! and prayed not to miss the last train back home. One thing about me? I will go back home.

The day arrived and I had a mixture of excitement and the familiar nervousness I always feel when I have to leave the comfort of my prison room. I made it to the show in good time and was pleased to find that I had a really good seat. As always I was so happy to be out and about in London, and I took as many pictures as I could.

Before the show started, I thought of a play on words: Cirque du So’lame! and hoped that would not be case. The thing about having expectations is that they are often not met. The show was alright; there were times when I wondered why I wasted my money, and there were jaw dropping moments when I literally clutched my non-existent pearls. I got the impression that this show was much more tame than other cirque shows, and I was a little thankful for that. The performers put themselves through so much and I have seen enough headlines about unfortunate accidents and deaths at shows like this and I was a bit nervous for them. It was interesting to me to see that the performers were also nervous. It never occurred to me that they would have nerves, I just assumed they do this all the time so they are basically superhuman. Watching them take a deep breath before flying through the air was actually endearing. The contortionist was really good (and surreal!), and the best part for me was the one when they flew in the air from one moving ledge to the other. There was juggling and some other alright stuff; there was a whole scenario featuring the clown with a whistle that went on for quite a while. I did not get it. At all. The audience seemed to get it though, judging from the laughter. Maybe it’s because he had his back to my section but it was a waste of my time. All in all, it was alright and I’m glad I’ve finally seen the show.

The show was over at 5:30 ish and I had a lot of time to kill. Thankfully, the line for the toilet was long and that easily killed a good amount of time (sort this out Royal Albert Hall!). As I had a fair bit of time, I took my time and moved in a leisurely manner. I stopped in a few places, including Waterstones, and then made my way to Oxford Street where I could easily waste a few hours. Whenever I go to Oxford Street, I need to have a crepe or bubble waffle. The last time I was there I had a bubble waffle and ever since, crepes (my erstwhile favourites) are no longer suitable. Oxford street is huge and confusing, I felt lucky to be able to find a crepe place and I did not want to lose it while searching for the bubble waffle place so I settled for a crepe. I should not have. It did not taste good. Still, that held me until the late night dinner.

I painted my nails on the bus. Not sure why I even bothered.

I did a fair bit of window shopping by myself, and then walked over to the restaurant at 8:45pm to meet our mutual friend who had arrived early. The restaurant is tucked in and I kept missing it.

The sign is so tiny. I expected a huge sign to match the fuss.

On getting there, we discovered that the reservation was actually for 9:30pm! I sighed deeply, and we went off to do more window shopping. Time flies, and we were soon all gathered together to celebrate our friend, who got emotional at some point.

The food was alright. The food I ordered was not photogenic, although that could be because of the poor lighting and poor camera quality.

The atmosphere was nice enough, but it did not make up for the fact that we were eating so late. I feel that it would have been better at the Japanese BBQ place, as we would have been more relaxed and spent more time together. I had to get the last train at 11:40pm, so I literally ran out of there and all the way to the tube station to get to the train station. I was a mess. I spent more time recovering from the run than I spent running. It turns out one of the guests had her last train cancelled due to someone jumping in front of the train, and so she had to pay for a taxi home. Yikes.

Still, my friend was happy , and so was I. It was nice to leave my house and interact with others.

Even in my haste, I managed to get some birthday cake which was baked my our mutual friend. I had this for breakfast in bed the next day.

It felt good to leave the house, and the next week I was out of the house again for a fun weekend in Birmingham. I’m a real Popular Polly these days. Yay.

Let’s go to the theatre dah-ling!

“Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?”
Friedrich Nietzsche

It was only in the theatre that I lived.
-Oscar Wilde.

Most weekends I am in my room, on my bed, watching television and eating pastry. Some weekends, even Netflix is not enough to assuage the hellish boredom so I say sod it, and head into town to see a play.

As a socially awkward teetotal introvert who doesn’t live close to any of her five friends, finding fun things to do can be daunting. One thing I love to do is to go see a play in one of London’s many theatres. So occasionally I make plans with a friend to meet up in the West End for dinner and a play, and I am rarely happier than during these times. Just being in the West End, surrounded by all the theatres with signs screaming the various plays. I inhale deeply-even the air is different (you would feel the same way if you spend most of your time alone in a small room). Over the years I have seen quite a few plays in London-mostly musicals, but also some drama. Here are my top five plays:

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Fear of missing out.

I never have any plans for the weekend. Whenever someone asks me what my plans are for the weekend or what I did over the weekend, my answer is the same: nothing much. For as far back as I can remember, I have always enjoyed my solitude. Weekends are for me to stay in and relax completely. I cannot be bothered to leave my room.

Despite this I have a sizable fear of missing out; FOMO as it is called. I always imagine that others are having fun without me, which they most likely are. I so badly want to stay home and do nothing but at the same time, I sometimes feel as though I am wasting away my youth.

I think deep down in my heart, I am a social person. I look back at the child I was and I wonder what happened. Back then I would organise all the children on my street; I formed a club and we would have meetings. One random morning, I decided to throw a party and a few hours later the party was underway for no reason at all. I miss that person. I wonder what happened to her. She is still in here somewhere, I feel her stirring all the time. I seem to have buried her under layers of God knows what and only God knows why.

I have a self to recover, a queen. Is she dead, is she sleeping? Where has she been, with her lion-red body, her wings of glass?

I am starting to be bored by my solitude, which occasionally turns into its ugly twin-loneliness. When the weekend approaches, I am a little sad that I have no plans. Yet whenever I do make plans, I am filled with a strange nervousness. Once the plan is actually underway I feel fine, but the hours before I set off are mildly nerve-wracking. I assume it is a watered down version of what an agoraphobic must feel. It is almost as if I am afraid to have a good time. I have become accustomed to the initial nervousness and I know that I just have to get through it and have a good time. Still sometimes I am relieved when plans fall through and I get to do nothing instead.

Once I am done with the outing, I am happy to be back home having fulfilled the need to leave the house and do something. At least now I have an answer if I am asked what I did over the weekend. This one outing usually satiates the desire to go out for a few weeks; I have left the house, that should hold me over a little bit.

Yet I wonder what others are up to, what fun things are they doing?

The worst case of FOMO comes on my birthday. Even if I do nothing and stay in the whole year, I like to create beautiful memories on my birthday. I spent weeks-months even trying to figure out what to do on my birthday. Oh how I panicked that I would end up staying in bed all day. 4am on my birthday I was still up trying to figure out the plans,  it did not help that it was on a weekday and everyone was at work. I did eventually manage to have an okay time by myself but it could have been much better.

I know deep down the social child I was is still there. I love planning things; I love creating an itinerary of events and things to do. It is rare that I go through with them but still the process is exciting.

In my dream life, I am out of the house regularly-not clubbing-but just being enriched by the world and all the beauty life has to offer.

I am over being alone.

Go out and do something. It isn’t your room that’s a prison, it’s yourself.

I need to leave my room more often. This is really the long and short of it all. Nothing interesting is going to happen in my room. I need to remind myself constantly to just get out and see what outside has to offer. I literally stay in all weekend, only leaving to stock up on food and then I worry I am missing out on life.

I have resolved to do something interesting every weekend, at least one day of the weekend. I made a similar resolution last year-I was determined to leave my room at least once a day. I even wrote down a list of places to go but then couldn’t be arsed to go to some of them alone.

Life is meant to be lived and so far, I am failing miserably at that. I do not want to be bereft of memories. I want to look back at my life and marvel at how rich it was.

 

Both quotes are from Sylvia Plath, who seems to have a quote for every mood I’m in.

On Introversion

Introversion sucks.

Point blank period end of discussion.

Sure it’s all good in the beginning; skipping out on parties and get-togethers to hang out with yourself. It’s nice to be alone, by yourself, with your thoughts, a book and a movie. The thought of screaming in a club in unappealing, hell the thought of being around other people is exhausting. You enjoy your company the most, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You are introverted and proud.

Until one day you realise that you do not know how to function in society.

I mean, you always knew that you were “different”. Everyone else seemed so comfortable being social, having lots of best friends and being the life of the party. You were pretty much a happy loner, you had-have- friends but you don’t keep in touch regularly. You have never really craved company and you have never needed others to make you feel good. You have always been okay with being alone until now.

You begin to realise, corny as it sounds, that no human is an island. Maybe it would be nice to have best friends that you can yap on and on about nothing with. Maybe it would be nice to have lots of pictures commemorating the fun times you and your friends have had. Maybe you should have socialised a bit more. Maybe you should have tried harder to make and maintain relationships. You begin to realise how necessary human companionship is. The conversations you have with yourself? You wish to have them with another human being. The scenarios you play in your head? You wish for them to be reality. You still have no desire to be the life of the party, but you sometimes wish you had more excitement in your life.You are tired of only showing your real self in certain settings when you are really comfortable, tired of people saying they did not know you were this crazy. You want to be comfortable at all times, at least comfortable enough to talk to people.

But one’s personality is difficult to change, especially in later years. You cannot simply become extroverted. Introversion still weighs down on you; you want to talk to people and mingle, and at the same time you want to be left alone. Be my friend, but no please don’t bother me. It would be nice to have everyone make a big deal of your birthday, but at the same time the thought of all the attention makes you dizzy and afraid.

Besides, everyone else is so different. You cannot relate to their experiences, and you do not think you have much to add to their conversations. You really want to have fun and at the same time you really do not want to leave your room. Your Fear Of Missing Out is strong, but it’s no match for your Reluctance To Leave Your Room.

Everyone one around you is chatting away about their weekends, and you’re seated alone wishing you could yap away as well, but grateful that no one is talking to you because, well you have nothing to say about your weekend. So you just read your book or check your phone.

Fed up with the solitude, you want to start actively making changes; and you try contacting friends you have not communicated with in ages. Their lives have moved on quite a bit, because the lives of others do not stop just because you haven’t spoken in a while. It stings a little-a lot- that they did not tell you of these momentous changes in their lives. But what right do you have to their lives Ms. Introversion? Miss I don’t like to speak on the phone or text or communicate in anyway. Miss I let my phone ring because I really do not have the strength to carry on a conversation. Being introverted is not an excuse. “That’s just the way I am” is child babble.

It is hard to change and most times it seems impossible. Introversion is not an uncool-cool trait that writers and other creatives have. There are degrees to it and at the far end are those who cannot speak in public without feeling as if their heart will explode. Those who panic when they think someone is coming to speak to them. Those who rehearse future conversations and bail out on social gatherings because they have nothing to say.

It is nice to be by oneself, but it is also nice-necessary even- to leave the confines of one’s private sphere and go be with people. Laugh, take pictures, build a tribe, make memories. Life is not meant to be lived alone.

 

 

IN THE NEW YEAR I WANT TO…

 

Be more adventurous. Explore my surroundings more. Explore the city. Leave my room every day. Go somewhere every weekend. Strike up conversations. Keep in touch with people. Take care of my hair more. Learn to swim. Become an adult. Fall in love. Laugh a lot. Finish one of the many stories I have started. Get a job. Start a business. Learn to code. Perfect my languages. Learn a new one. Take more pictures. Make more memories. Stay alive. Be happy.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! HERE’S TO A FABULOUS 2016.

Picasso wasn’t made in a day.

I am always on the lookout for something fun to do in Lagos. My regular day consists of me holding myself prisoner at home, slowly frittering away from the monotony of life, wondering what fun things other people are doing.

So when I heard of an event called Paint The Night Africa, I was immediately down for it. It is a fun painting class where people, art novices especially, can be guided through a painting session while simultaneously sipping a glass of wine or whatever. This is an article about their launch. I went on their website www.ptnafrica.com and found that they had an event on the 19th of March. My friend and I registered for it and waited excitedly for the day to come.

It costs 5000 for one person, a steep price for an unemployed person like myself but I rationalised it this way: I never go out, so this is actually not too much money to spend on what is possibly my only outing in the foreseeable future.

The event was held at a cozy restaurant in Victoria Island called Gingers Tapas and Grill. It was scheduled to start at 6:30pm and being the Punctual Polly that I am, I got there right as the clock struck half past 6. But as usual Nigerian Timing* came into effect.

Nigerian timing aka African timing aka Coloured people timing: This is when an event is billed to start at 6:30 and people do not get there till 8pm. It is expected and accepted that people will be late and the event will not start on time so nobody leaves their house on time, nobody except me that is. 

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Apart from the instructors/organisers, we were the first people there and so we waited. The waitress came over with menus but we were not interested in drinking or eating anything, we just wanted to know the WIFI password. I suspect the waitress did not want us to know the password because we had to ask over and over again before she muttered something. We then tried this password multiple times in multiple ways but it did not work. Eventually we had to give her our phones and she took them away to some magical land and when they were returned, they were connected to the wifi. Hallelujah.

At 7:15, a few more people had arrived and the organiser said we could not wait any longer for the latecomers and the painting class was declared open.

The theme of the class was Crazy Daisies. We received a brief tutorial from the instructor on what brushes to use, how to mix colours and things like that. Then we started to paint and by paint I mean I just closed my eyes and threw random colours on the canvas. At the end of the class, this is what I ended up with

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Mine was the darkest and the busiest and least artistic in the class. Every one else had nice pastel backgrounds with minimalist themes and I had this. I love it though. I really do. I’m going to ship it off to the Tate Modern and become a millionaire.

The class was fun and I hope to go back soon to redeem myself. On the drive home, I started to think about all the ways I could have gone about this painting. I might just invest in a few canvases and paint brushes and paint the night away in my room. Painting is not as difficult as I thought it was, and in this age of pretentious art snobs and with what is considered art these days, I reckon I have a bright future as an artist.