Ah, London. (This clip is required viewing anytime London is mentioned anywhere)
I have come here far earlier than planned due to the unfortunate state of my right foot. My plan is to discuss options with someone in the medical profession through a purely English dialect, instead of trying to fumble my way through the details of Spanish + medical jargon.
My brilliant plan has a catch: this being the UK and I being a foreigner who doesn’t pay into their medical plan, I’m not exactly sure how all this will work out. However, so far I’m quite happy with the approach. There is one number to call to begin to “triage” your issue (111, pretty easy to remember, really). Once you get hold of this number, the kind person on the other side will ask you a string of questions, much like troubleshooting a computer issue really, before recommending your next steps.
It took a bit of wrangling to get to this point though. First off, the number my friend (we’ll call him Baylor) gathered for me before heading off to work turned out to be old, and when dialed advised me instead to dial 111. Trying “111” from Skype was met with no success as Skype flagged this as an emergency number and thus wouldn’t call it (???). So I attempted the call with my Spanish phone, which yielded some recorded Spanish message explaining that the number didn’t exist. Adding in the country code + 111 didn’t help either.
However, Baylor came to the rescue again and guided me to a local SIM card he wasn’t using which fit my phone perfectly and I was then on the call with NHS. After numerous questions, it came down to the fact that my cast has begun to see some wear and tear in form of a seam opening up near my ankle, and thus the advice was: go to your nearest hospital’s ER and get them to assess it. Fair enough. Baylor advised me from afar that, since it was already late in the day by the time I got to this point I should just go tomorrow since wait times are notorious for being several hours and usually at their worst later in the day. Also, the nearest hospital is Mayday, colloquially known as “May Die”. That doesn’t bode well…
This was not all I have done on my first day in London though! First off: whatever image you have of London, potentially influenced by the clip included at the start of this post, is wrong, based on my current experience. I arrived in Gatwick and am staying in an area near Croyden called “Crystal Place”. This is ostensibly all “London”, but very much on the outskirts. The drive in from Gatwick is gorgeous: you go through Surrey so it’s all rolling hills, trees, bushes and greenery.
The weather has been absolutely perfect: Sunny, about 70 (20 C), not a cloud in the sky. I took a mid-day hobble 3 blocks away to a Chinese take out place and was greeted with an absolutely stunning view of London from atop the hill. I would provide a picture, but sadly my phone (which is my only camera) has decided it hates electricity and refuses to charge. So you get stock views (my view is actually prettier than this):
Regardless: beautiful! The addition of that monstrous building in the center that dwarfs everything else is new since I was here briefly 4 years ago. It’s called “The Shard”, and simply dominates the skyline. Broken foot or no, I need to get down to see it.
I got my Chinese food and wobbled back to the house (stopping to sweat every block or so) where I discovered my hosts have a lovely back yard / garden area which proves to be perfect for enjoying a bit o’ chicken-n-broccoli.
While tucking in (see, I’m already picking up the London vernacular), I heard a surprised “Oh, hello!” with a strong English lilt to it. Looking up I saw a head of colorful curlers suspended atop a woman, perhaps in her 60’s, looking over the fence at me, much like Wilson from Home Improvement.
We ended up having a lovely little conversation, similar to the following:
“Are you moved in then?”
“Oh, no I’m just staying with my friends. I broke my foot so I’m staying here to heal up”
“Oh, I see! Well, you’ll be a proper nuisance then won’t you?”
“Er, yes, I suppose so…”
In addition, I should point out you haven’t experienced adorableness properly until you have a 3-year old boy with a budding English lilt tempered by a bit of German accent as well (Baylor speaks mostly in German to him so he can grow up bi-lingual), come up and ask you:
“Kodey, would you like a cup o’ tea?”
I’m not sure there’s anyone out there who could turn that down, even if drinking tea gave you hives and projectile vomiting. Simply crushing with cuteness.
Tomorrow I’ll see how May Die performs, whether the waiting times are as legendary as expected, what an American in London can expect to pay for health care, and more. What fun!