Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, 19 Dec - The Return of Rampant

Yes, I know I said in my previous posting that this blog would be shut down, following my return to Singapore after the wonderful year away in London. But guess what? I’m now back in the city! Rampant has returned to London, not for a year, alas, but for a good week of holidays leading up to Christmas. And what better reason could there be for this temporary return to blogging?

The past couple of months had been characterized by lots of work, amidst lots of fond memories of the previous twelve months away from Singapore. Something which I missed in particular was the chance to hang out with my London gang, but we had a semblance of that earlier in December, when SSG, GNK, DH and I headed up to Malacca to link up with Swinger on our great Malacca Makan Mission, where the objective was to Eat Until Burst, and then to Eat Some More.

Coming into London on an overnight flight, I thought warmly of times gone by, and felt a sense of a homecoming as I walked through Heathrow. It was a nondescript flight, with the inevitable screaming baby, and I left the aircraft feeling exhausted but excited. The airport’s as crappy as ever, but it was a place I’ve become familiar with.

I’ve also become well acquainted with the good old London Tube, and it was up to its usual good old self, breaking down when I was at Acton Town on the Piccadilly Line, less than a half hour into the 75 minute ride into town. We all shuffled out, whereupon I made by way across the platform for the District Line to Tower Hill.

This time round, I’ll be spending my evenings not at Goodenough College, but with SSG and HM at their lovely apartment south of the Thames, a short hop and a stroll away from the iconic Tower Bridge. It feels great to be back, as it was here where I spent my second last evening in London before leaving for Singapore in September, and into which I had helped the SSG move.

I knocked on their door only just after the late winter sun had risen, with both ladies still snoring away in bed. OK, I made that last bit up, but I did feel kinda bad arriving so early. But the entire day lay ahead. Sleep would have to come later.

After a nice breakfast of scones and cake, the three of us chatted merrily for a while before a very reluctant SSG left for work. HM and I then jaunted off to the nearby Starbucks for a cup of steaming chai latte. It’s been a very cold winter in London so far, with daytime temperatures at only about 5 degrees. But that’s not gonna stop me from venturing around. We sauntered off to the nearby Hays Galleria, past a German-style Christmas market, before repairing home for a nice homemade pasta and chicken lunch.

Later in the afternoon, Bus 188 then took me and HM back to our old haunt at the Russell Square area, where I proceed to visit the local Waterstones, pop into my old university gift shop for some hot UCL gear, and then a nostalgic journey back to the Brunswick, with the inviting Waitrose and other outlets. Dinner was at the Hare and Tortoise…BackPain’s Janet wasn’t there anymore, but I had gone there for the Penang Prawn Mee lah.

Spent the evening watching Spamalot at the Palace Theatre along Shaftesbury Avenue. What rollicking good fun. I think I’ve never come across any musical with a less coherent plot than this one. All the Monty Pythonesque elements of the surreal were there, including the giant foot – something lost on anyone who’s not familiar with this classic act. I can’t say I came away with any memorable tune stuck in my head, but what I do know is that I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. It was campy and corny, but I never claimed to be atas in taste.

This return visit to London has been absolutely lovely. I feel a curious mix of sentiments. There’s the comfortable contentment of returning to somewhere I’m familiar with. At the same time, there’s a decided sense of excitement at being, once again, with close friends in a most remarkable city, where I spent some of my happiest days. I’ve lined up a packed schedule of stuff to do, places to visit, people to meet, and things to eat. Yes, Rampant is back in London : )


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