In August challenge, Travel
August 30, 2009

The past few days I’ve been mentally composing the blog posts I might write when August is over, maybe summing up the project, picking my best-of and worst-of lists. And until today, the worst-of list was topped by The Warrington. But today hit a new low.

I went for a wander around Camden Town. Which is something of a pit on a Sunday, but in a fascinating way if you’re willing to be fascinated. There are so many sub-cultures represented in such a small space, from the juggling shop where I heard someone say “I live to skate; when I skate it’s like the world disappears” to the goth/vampire stalls where I saw a girl with amazingly intricate hair curls pasted to her head and face with gel. (I did take some pictures but my mobile phone is currently refusing to sync with my computer; when I sort it out I’ll post them.) And there was a shop with a giant mirrored Buddha in the front window, amazing.

So I was feeling strangely peaceful surfing through this world of other people’s interests and passions, when I stopped into a cookware store. Where the woman behind the counter decided to tell me what she thought was wrong with my body, and that *she had the miracle solution*. So I told her she was being offensive to me, put down the items I was planning to purchase, and left. As a warning to others, therefore, I would advise against going to the Reject Pot Shop in Chalk Farm, unless you enjoy that sort of commentary from strangers.

Sigh. This sort of thing is quite shocking, in a way. I remember being really horrified when an Asian friend told me about the casual insults thrown at him on the street because of his ethnicity. And Athena Stevens has a great post about how people try to *heal her* in Starbucks. Who *are* these crackpots and wankers? What is going on in their brains?

The good news, I suppose, is that only a very small minority of people in the world are this kind of tosser. Got into a lovely chat on the way home with an Italian and a German student, both of them trying to communicate with each other in broken English, not getting much further than ‘you like pizza?’ but both going at it with much goodwill.

Why do we go back again and again to the same places? Because we know we’ll have a good time there, we know it’s safe. New places and new people are often something of a gamble. But the truth is the gamble very rarely backfires horribly; most people are full of goodwill. Last day of August tomorrow, and I’m not even looking forward to all this being over. It’s been enriching.

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