Sunday, March 21


Last night I arrived at the Wellington Hotel. From the outside everything looks fine. The building is built in Edwardian style, and reminds me of a Harry Potter castle or an English boarding school. My room is located on the ground floor, right next to the reception desk. The good news is that I have a room with a view. The windows still have an authentic Edwardian look, and if you open the windows you can see a large old fashioned square. I can almost imagine being at an all girls Catholic boarding school, with strict rules, a matron and a prayer and fixed times. Before going to bed my brother and I explored the hotel. There is a chapel, a small lounge with leather couches and a gloomy library. Showers and toilets are communal, which gave me the giggles at first. The bad news is that I have not been able to sleep last night. People of all different nationalities kept on slamming their doors. Given the choice between a room with a view and a room without noise, I would have to say I choose the last. So that’s why it’s so important to travel. You learn new things about yourself.

The Wellington Hotel can be described as Harry Potter meets Fawlty Towers. This morning I decided to have breakfast before nine. At first it took me some time to figure out how to get to the breakfast hall. There was a large delegation of employees gathered in front of the entrance. A young man, dressed in a red jacket with polished silver buttons, gently asked me for my name. He then checked the list in front of him. I felt like all staff at the Wellington had been casted by a special agency. After my name and room number had been checked I was allowed to enter. I followed some blond Scandinavian girls who were chattering away in front of me. Scandinavian girls always intimidate me somehow, especially if one feels rather sleep deprived. After taking two croissants I couldn’t figure out how the coffeepot worked (which button did I need to push?). This made some Spanish youngsters laugh. Staff quickly came to rescue and showed me the correct procedure to get coffee from the pot. Drank my coffee with dignity and humbly ate my two croissants. I was glad no one knew I was Dutch.

Yesterday I moved from the ground floor to the third floor; a small step for humanity but a huge improvement for a girl. For some reason I have signed up for a course to become a teacher. This turns out to be mistake. The course takes four weeks and is rather intensive: we already started teaching English on our second day. Doing this course has made me realise that I don’t really want to be teacher, at least not in the coming month. The only reason why I stick around is for the students, who are mainly from Japan. They seem so eager to master this language, it’s really heartbreaking at times. Every morning I take the tube to Holborn station, have a macchiato or an earl grey and then try to recollect why I am here. I was hoping that being in London would give me a clear idea about what I do and don’t want to do with my life. So far I’ve reached a very simple conclusion: life can be lonely anywhere.

Yesterday was a very good day. I got up at 5.30 to prepare my final interview. Put on a smart outfit, took a taxi to Holborn and pretended to arrive by tube. Had coffee and croissants at a local bakery, while rehearsing what I planned to say. This interview, so I was told, would be decisive, obtaining my final degree as a teacher would depend on it. To be honest, I had not been this nervous since the age of twelve. Doing exams reminded me too much of my childhood, which was not necessarily a good thing. After the interview I felt very happy and relieved. A fellow student suggested a trip to the British museum, which seemed to be the right idea at the right time. We walked around Chinese statues and Egyptian mummies, and I felt like I should always feel, grateful for being alive.
My fellow student (a graduated linguist from Cambridge) asked me what the rest of the world was like. I told him it’s a dark place full of strange people, not very different from England perhaps. We stared at some mummified cats and kittens, discussing the possibilities of an afterlife. I knew he wanted to kiss me but I also knew he wouldn’t do it. Not in front of ancient mummies, that would not feel right.