Swedish Girl In London

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

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Do I know the way to San José? Well, no, I'm afraid I don't - and neither do I have a clue if this is the way to Amarillo.

"Fair enough," you say, "why should you?"

Unfortunately the same goes for places right on my doorstep. Parachute me down on a random street in Soho and ask me to lead you to Leicester Square, and chances are I'll take you on a spiralling trekk down dodgy backstreets, looking more and more confused. Finally we'll end up at Tottenham Court Road.

I will probably soundtrack this journey with musings like:

"Have they moved Seven Dials? It should be to the left of the angry Chinese granny;"


"Didn't we just pass that shop?"

To put it shortly, I'm not really up there with that posh woman who talks to you via your Road-finder. But does this stop me from giving people directions?

I just can't resist the feel-good urge of helping some hapless tourists on their way, and they must sense this. They always approach me with their maps and their cute accents, and I immediately spring to life and start pointing in different directions. None of that boring nonsense of "take left at the third traffic light" for me! (Who on Earth counts traffic lights anyway?) No, I'm all for making snaky arm-movements with the palm of my hand to draw out imaginary maps. This is normally met by blank stares, which turns me into Balletic Traffic Cop, swivelling around, flailing my arms around the compass.

In the end, the poor tourists depart with many thanks and a dazed expression, while I shout some last-minute instructions after them. It's not until a couple of minutes afterwards that it normally strikes me that I've sent them off in the opposite direction.

It must be the same know-it all reflex that makes me utterly unable to say "I don't know" when someone asks me the statistical percentage of Swedish GDP accounted for by agriculture, and instead answer confidently:


In the future, I think the safest thing will be for you all not to believe a word I say.


At 2:47 PM, Blogger Mel said...

That made me laugh. I am the same way. I just want to help! Even if my answers are totally confusing and full of crap. I can't help it!

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Curiosa said...

If I calculated correctly, based on figures from Statistics Sweden it should be 1.6 percent for the previous quarter. But don't quote me on that.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Swedish Girl said...

Oh, excellent, Curiosa! I just HAVE to engineer a conversation where I can casually drop that fact...

Mel, glad that you understand me... we MEAN well!

At 12:13 AM, Blogger Zen Wizard said...

1) From Heathrow, catch the first direct flight to SFO,

2) Head to the Hertz checkout, and rent a Grand Prix,

3) Get on US 101 South,

4) Stop when you see the sign that says "Entering San Jose'."

Please let me know if I can be of further service!!

At 3:44 PM, Blogger josephknecht said...

I once tried to give directions to French tourists, in Florence, in German.

My French is not so hot. Turns out? My German sucks too.

I don't even know if they came out alive...

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard said...

It probably bears mentioning that the "San Jose'" in the song is a metaphor for lost innocence.

In other words, the song is asking, "How do I gain back my youthful innocence after LA has trampled on my dreams and crushed them?"

The answer is, of course, you can't.

As the great writer Thomas Wolfe put it, "You can never go home again."

At 5:09 PM, Blogger Swedish Girl said...

Aha! That's why I can't find San Jose if you so air-lifted me into it. Innocence once gone is gone forever, or how was it again?


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