Swedish Girl In London

London Life: Bright Lights, Big City. Now what's on TV?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I was supposed to meet a Spanish language exchange called Jairo outside Covent Garden tube at six o’clock yesterday, but arrived – in time-honoured Swedish fashion – early and decided to kill some time in Oasis. Two skirts (and the painful realisation that I’m NOT a size 6) later, I wasn’t early anymore, and rushed out with that horrid feeling all true Swedes get when they are more than two minutes late.

Ten minutes hence, and no Jairo.

To this point, all my dealing with Jairo had been via e-mail and SMS, which meant I hadn’t got a clue what he might look like. I had some vague idea about darkish hair and a tan, but that was more to do with national stereotyping than anything else. I think that he might have written in his last e-mail that he would be wearing jeans, which was both reassuring and useless:

Useless: as a narrowing-down piece of information, that is, not when it comes to the basic keep-you-warm-and-decent function of clothing. I mean - jeans? It doesn’t really weed you out from the masses the way, say, red bazaar-style trousers would.
Reassuring: While red bazaar-style trousers would have made Jairo easier to pick out in a crowd, it would also have made me less willing to do so.

Anyways, this meant that I was tentatively establishing eye-contact with any tanned dark man in jeans passing my way (No, that is not something I do all the time, I’ll have you know. Tsk!). This was misinterpreted in several instances. Most of the tanned men just got a worried look and hurried away, but one sleazy-looking specimen was evidently delighted and followed me around for at least five minutes.

Twenty minutes and still no Jairo.

In despair, I started to accost various strangers with the question: Are you Jairo? Now, I realise that if you don’t speak Spanish, this sounds like some sort of odd insult – the guttural sound of the Spanish J is enough to scare anybody. I also asked a girl what time it was. She looked pityingly at me and enquired whether I was on a blind date. This I had to refute violently, of course. No, no, no, I wasn’t at all the type of person who went on blind date, and even if I were, I was definitely not the type who would be stood up by a blind date. Here, painful recollections of trying on size 6 skirt in Oasis resurfaced and silenced me. The girl merely said that it was six-thirty, and moved away.

Shortly afterwards, an unrepentant, jeans-clad Jairo showed up, guided me to a Nero coffee shop, fed me with muffins and turned out to be a perfectly sweet, though unpunctual guy. The conversation somehow ended up on stereotypes, and Jairo ventured that English girls Drank A Lot, and wondered if Swedish girls did the same. I replied that I was afraid that we did & Jairo shook his head. I then suggested that Latin American girls probably did the same, only when he wasn't around to see it, and he very amicably agreed that this was probably so.

I now realise that people can be as late and macho as they like, but if they agree with me and give me muffins, I will still like them immensly.


At 12:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your eventful hunting for a delayed Jairo outside that tube (the “J” in Spanish, properly pronounced, sounds like a whisper, well, at least, that goes for some people who live here in South America. As for the question whether South American girls are heavy drinkers or not, I can assure you that many of them have already picked up this habit… Do they think that alcohol is a medicine or something of the like? (Here I’m speaking about heavy drinkers spread all over the world). As for myself, I’d rather have a glass of good red wine with some sophisticated meal than filling my body up with litres of beer, for instance.

A South American Girl :-)

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Swedish Girl said...

Hi South American Girl!

Thanks for your comment! I think you've probably got the right idea there... a glass of wine with your dinner is much better than glugging down bottles of bright pink alcopop and ending up staggering out of the loo with toilet paper stuck to your heals...!
Not that that has ever happened to me, of course! ;-)


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