The text message came through last Friday evening:
“Hi darling, I’m in Amsterdam… just smoked a joint and am now really paranoid. I can’t believe what’s going on. I think I just saw Mick Jagger.”
Watch out Europe, my dad has landed.
Having a parent come to visit you in London is difficult at the best of times but when that parent is a dairy farmer from rural Australia, it’s a challenge and a half.
Most people prepare for a visit from ‘the folks’ by cleaning the house, stocking the fridge with healthy snacks, relocating random stray friends and filing away the porn. My preparations, however involved devising a failsafe itinerary for a successful London weekend with my dairy dad.
“Easy” I hear you cry… “A Big Bus tour, London Bridge, The British Museum – tourist it up and see the sights”. The thing is, my dad doesn’t ‘do’ cities. He prefers bright-eyed cows to neon lights and crowds.
It’s always amusing to watch newcomers battle with everyday London living. I’d almost forgotten how confusing the tube can be. The coloured spaghetti strap maps may be imprinted on our brains but to dad, it looked like it should be hung in the Tate Modern. He may deliver calves in the dead of the night, arm deep in membranes and goo – but wrestling with the tube barriers was his idea of a nightmare.
Finally, we reverted to a stroll along the Thames. If in doubt, go by foot. As we ‘marvelled’ at the plastic bags floating amongst the muck, a tacky white limo approached. The teens inside hung their spiky gel encrusted heads out of the windows bellowing like dad’s herd back at home. An ancient fisherman watched on in disgust; “You’d think they’ve never been in a f****** car before!”. You said it Grandpa. There’s nothing like paying a fortune for half an hour in a glorified hearse with a phone number emblazoned across its side.
After the private show by the youth of the Nation, we boarded ‘The Tattershall Castle’, a boat permanently moored opposite The London Eye on the Embankment. Fishing? No. A quality night of Dad proof entertainment? You betcha.
The Monday Club is London’s only floating comedy club. Crude, coarse and cutting edge comedians on top of the Thames. If there’s one way to enlighten visitors on all aspects of British culture, it’s through the eyes of a comedian. In the space of 3 hours we learnt about ethnic England, hoodies, mouse invasions, bombings, gay pick up lines, lesbian sex and Tony Blair – what an insight into British culture; all for a measly ten quid. A Monday night must me-hearties.
In true Aussie style, my father stole the show. I left him at the bar for five minutes and returned to find he’d won over the comedians. As the Aussie slang rolled off his tongue, they couldn’t pen his words down fast enough. “I’m using this in next week’s show” one beamed.
Honestly, you can’t take them anywhere these days.