A London bbq

Oh, Britons are so weird!

Their classy and composed speaking, their messy and uneducated eating, their stone cold behaviour and aggressively drunk manners along with their unstable position in relationships – distant, indifferent, uninterested. Sometimes you wonder about what they feel like, if they feel something; how they handle their daily life, their BBC, their afternoon tea, and that thing they call ‘latte(y)’.

LATTE(y)???
Yeah, apparently they’ve discovered some evolution of cappuccino for us still unknown.

Speaking of which, our friends threw a bbq a couple of days ago to celebrate a mate’s bday.
With the rare fantastic weather being the perfect background – steaks, burgers, sausages and much more flipping on the grill, diffusing a drooling flavour that accompanied the entertaining tunes played through the Bluetooth speaker – 30ish people were swallowing cans of beer like they were nuts.
And sure thing, they were really nuts!

Among the number of countries that showed up on that day, I can recall Spain, Brazil, Austria, Germany, Peru, Slovakia, Italy and, well well well, England. Yes, one of the sophisticated Britons had honoured us with his presence. And whether it was for the alcohol making them sociable or the folks there just being naturally friendly, all went along with each other – judging by the loud Spanish-blasted laughter and the Italians-led group dancing.

You know London itself is practically a huge bbq – a place where different types of meats are cooked on the same irons creating a unique taste.

With a closer look though, I realised that we strangers were the ones who were grouping up per country/language, setting the others aside. The English dude instead was the only one who was ping-ponging from group to group to socialise with everybody.

Wait a minute.
We often talk about Brexit, about being left apart from a number of Britons who are segregating us for being immigrants. Whereas, sometimes I feel like it’s us who are exiting them – taking ownership of a space that doesn’t belong to us and we should appreciate more, and not being excluding individuals who are giving us the opportunity to remain.

So while I was totally zoned out having this random thought, I turned towards him and he was sitting there choking himself with a stripe of steak he hadn’t cut.

“Oh, dude, I can’t take you anywhere.”

Jim
The Britalian Post

Modern colonization

Whatever the reasons led the man to colonize the world, the hunger for discovery has probably been the main motif, an innate trait of the human being.

Men enslaved Africa, imported from India, and placed their handprints over China and Japan. The West wasn’t left apart: brave cowboys rode through the immense unexplored lands of America in order to take over new territories.

How fascinating it is to only think that somewhere back in time people left their home countries, their hometowns, their families and affections, to undertake long and insecure travels that would keep them far away for months, or even years, while taking up the chance to access new lands and make history.

I get anxious for a 3-hour flight, and I’m definitely not travelling to go change the world.

The pure and positive, even sincere, purpose of exploring thus discovering didn’t have anything to do with the cruelty brought by the colonisation process–whereas for colonisation I refer to the subjugation and exploiting of newly found populations. 

Plus, they were also willing to teach. If imposing their own culture, habits, religion, maybe language at the top, can be considered a wise teaching process.

I wish I could provide an actual example of pacific colonisation but at the moment I can think of nothing that doesn’t involve wars and genocides. Maybe, if we also take into account isolated and specific events out of the main context, we might try to see the whole scenario under a different light. 

I believe I got one then.

I live in a shared house. I’ve never understood how many tenants are in the house, as people come and go and new faces frequently show up. One thing I know for sure is that we’re all young people, say in our late 20’s on average. Which is very promising in terms of daily interactions and house parties.

After spending the past late summer and the whole fall and winter securely locked in my room, I thought it was a good time to give my boring stand-alone-while-listening-to-sad-songs attitude a swift and embrace an open and social behaviour. This happened when I was approached a few times in the kitchen by Vlad – the Romanian guy that lives in one of the rooms on the first floor – who politely endeavoured to penetrate my rude anti-people attitude to start a conversation in the wait for our meals to be ready. I must have very much resisted his friendly “courting” and eventually, I’m so glad that the guy didn’t give up on me. 

Meal after meal, drink after drink, cigarette after cigarette, chat after chat, that one-to-one situation escalated to a point where more people have become frequent house-attenders. Apparently, most of the tenants are from Romania and don’t stand the chance to invite friends over and gather around the barbecue, which means boosted-volume mainstream music and buckets of heavy spirits. I happened to join them one evening after a long and warm Sunday out consuming beers in different spots of the city. I would be poured cups of Cognac like it was water. The funniest was the guy who doesn’t speak any English in charge of refilling my cup each time it was empty. These people are totally insane!…but I enjoy them.

That Sunday was a starting day for barbecues and house parties to be thrown one after another till 3ish in the morning in the days that followed. The guys clearly like the house and the backyard, since they spend more time in there than I do. Besides, they seem to have a lot of free time too. As far as I know, all of them work in hospitality, which allows them to have late morning/early afternoon shifts and consequently enough time for night parties. However, their livers must be iron solid.

Sometimes I lie in my bed and hear them joking, singing, yelling, doing all of the things that won’t make me sleep. “Come on guys I need to wake up at 5:30am and it’s already 1:30!”

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, the guys are always partying, always in the house: firing our barbecue, resting on our couch, in our backyard, and building relationships with the other tenants. I don’t mind them being around, they’re a pleasant company. I mind not being able to always join their gatherings and being forced to sleep because I’m supposed to work the day after.

So when I was leaving for Italy last week at 2ish in the morning, I met some of them in the kitchen terminating their party. Guys, for real???!!! The girls that live on the first floor were also there and yes, my sixth sense had spotted some affair going on. 

Do you believe it’s just about people having fun? Hell, no! This is a modern and pacific colonisation. Here’s the reality: they invade our houses, trespass on our premises, seduce our women.

Whatever the reasons led the man to colonize the world, the hunger for finding entertaining locations has possibly been the main motif of today. Or maybe it’s girls or much free time.

Whatever the reasons, they don’t even need much travelling because they live close by. So settling is easy: the Romanian colonisation of the house has just begun.

Hell no, I’m being subjugated too! I’ve already started learning their language!!!…

Jim
The Britalian Post

Homeland

London, May 2016. 

The hottest spring ever–up to 32 degrees. The sun was literally setting the city on fire. And the people.

I had just moved to a new house in North London: a two-room semi-studio apartment, narrow and long. Practically an ex-garage. Yay! I had finally my own place and indeed couldn’t wait to decorate it with lights, posters, furniture and random stuff, my handprint to make it look like myself. Well, in fact, I hoped it possibly didn’t.. unless I could see a better picture of me at the time, which was obviously not going to happen. 

The huge empty white wall in front of the couch inspired me to fill it with something I knew would make most of my nights: a giant TV. My parents – God bless them from his heights – bought me a 46-inch TV as a present for the new house. They knew I’d love it! So step by step, the house began to look more like MY place, my refuge, my home base, my home. That’s the kind of feeling one needs to feel when living abroad, far from family, friends, and all the things you’ve always known better.

Next step was – of course – celebration. It seems to be a matter of good luck when you do. Therefore I invited over my colleagues – my teammates, my crew, my friends, all in one; the people I would enjoy celebrating it with. 6 different countries, 6 different languages, 7 people (including me): Maximiliano and Maria (Catalonia and Spain), Lazaros (a German-born Austrian-raised Greek guy), Beatriz (Brazil), Colin (France), Mary-Jean (England), myself (well…Italy). Oh yeah, that was a melting pot!

We came all the way east from Uxbridge, which seemed to be a whole different world: a one hour and a half journey plus a 25 min walk under the boiling afternoon sun. The guys might have wanted me dead for that.

The night was super fun – unfortunately, Mary-Jean couldn’t make it. 

We ordered some extra large super fat pizzas from Pizza Hut – jeez I should be ashamed for that! – and beer after beer made us happy through the night. Tequila shots went along with the background music played on Spotify via my brand new TV (yes, I’m very proud of my TV). 

And while our chats and talks were deepening the strong friendship we already had, I told them about the Lithuanian girl I was dating and the invitation to the barbecue at her friends’ house I received. 

Now to set you straight, I don’t really feel comfortable with staying among people that I don’t know at all, so I had declined the sweet offer in the first place.

The guys though had a different opinion. They started with their “you’re so complicated”, “take it easy”, “do you actually wish to go?”, and stuff, to make up my mind. Lazaros was, in fact, more direct: “Jim, what’s the problem?! Is it for free? Or you’re supposed to pay for something?!” What an ass! 

Then with a brave dancing move worthy of a retired but filthy Michael Jackson, he said: “You shall go and make quite an entrance. Is it for free? You moonwalk in! You have to pay? You moonwalk out!” 

Hilarious.

Thus, the day after I went. 

If any of you has ever seen hot weather in London, well, consider you’ve had an experience. I was literally melting! Why did I wear a pair of jeans? What went wrong while dressing up?

Shoreditch was incredible that day, and so was she. Few steps before the corner with Brick Lane we stopped to pick some beverages and chips, and I thought I’d buy a bottle of wine for the hosts as a thank you present for welcoming an unknown guest into their house. The barbecue was taking place on the building rooftop and the sight from up there was breathtaking! The city was bright, clear, open to the admiration of its viewers.

One of the hosts was actually Italian, from Naples like myself, so he would definitely appreciate the wine I chose. “Well done Jim”, I thought.

So I shyly approached him while barbecuing and handed over the bottle of wine along with my thank-you’s. Being told by the guy that I didn’t need to do that cause I’m from Naples, a fellow citizen i.e. a brother, and that I would always be super welcome there, was a priceless reaction. And his well-known accent…

In both these moments, the empathy and the warm hospitality shortened all the long distances and turned those common happenings into a unique space.

London, May 2016. 

No matter where you are, what you do, what language you speak.

That felt like home. That was my homeland.

Jim
The Britalian Post

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