Wot the chuffin’ Gypsy Nell’re ya speaking?

Apparently no one told Pier Andrea that in England people drive on the wrong side of the road. Of course, the English don’t think it’s the wrong side of the road. That’s why the driver’s seat in English vehicles is on the right and not where it should be – the left.  Think we should tell them that they’re woefully misguided?  Probably not a good idea.

MrToadVehicleDriving on the four lane highway leading into London hadn’t been too bad but following a speeding Ferrari through a huge city’s crowded streets, often into oncoming traffic, was like being on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Disneyland (my favorite ride by the way). Finally Carolyn and I pulled over and parked the car until the boys realized we weren’t following them and turned back to find us. They had to be in Worksop by mid afternoon so the plan was to have lunch together and then say good-bye. They parked the Ferrari in front of a one of those Dr. Who phone booths and we walked across the street to a place advertising pizza. It was a hole in the wall, with a few laminated tables and a greasy counter where you ordered your pizza. Alberto grabbed a copy of their one page menu and began translating for the other two. The lady behind the counter made a face and then greeted us thusly: “You’re too Cilla Black for Rosy Lee and you’ve parked on the Pete Tong side of the blimey frog and toad.”

cockney2“What?” I asked.

“Daan’t ask me ter repeat myself. I’m speakin’ blimey english – wot the chuffin’ Gypsy Nell ‘re ya speaking?”

“We’d like some pizza?” I said, more as a question than a request.

“We daan’t serve the likes of them in this establishment,” she said referring to the Italians. “Gypsies – ya can na trust ‘em.”

I turned to Massimo who could understand her no better than me. “They’re closed.” He glanced at his watch. “Heh?”

“Let’s go somewhere else.”

We walked down the narrow streets until we found a pub that was slightly friendlier and shared a platter of fish and chips. Then they went on their way.

Carolyn had found us a cheap place near the St. Pancras/King’s Cross underground station which we finally managed to find as the sun was setting.St.Pancras

It was a run-down row house whose unsmiling proprietor had a hook for a hand and a face straight out of Dickens. Turns out he was letting an Irish couple whose daughter was in the hospital with an undiagnosable illness stay practically for free. He was a real nice guy.  We spent about four days in London traveling from touristy site to touristy site on the underground.  On our last day there Jimi Hendrix OD’ed.  Someone released hundreds of white doves in Hyde Park.

Massimo and I kept in touch until I returned stateside and then, you know, shit happened.  Here’s one of his beautiful letters.Letter-Massimo2_0001

10 thoughts on “Wot the chuffin’ Gypsy Nell’re ya speaking?

  1. Lovely post Jan. It captures for me the mood of the time and place. I worked in London for a while in the late sixties and your piece brought back memories.

  2. Was away so just caught up on the Jan, Carolyn, Pier Andrei (the poor rejected Latin Lover – smile) and Massimo adventure. The handwritten letters from Massimo were sweet. Wouldn’t it be something if he found your blog and got in touch again?

  3. Jan, immensely enjoyed reading about your travels here. It ended in a sort of melancholy way, but that seems to be true of many a trip. You packed a great deal of excitement and humor into your exploits. A real page turner.

  4. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the posts. I imagine Massimo and I would have stayed in touch if I’d stayed home but alas my adventuring days weren’t quite over!

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