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Part 2. The London Eye and Other Matters of Little Importance


Carmen, Ana and Maria

CARMEN:  Here we are then.  The London Eye at last. What a queue!

MARIA:     But we have a big wheel in the fair every year in Madrid!  What’s all the fuss about?

ANA: Yes, but it’s not quite as big as this one! Nor does it give you a view of the Houses of Parliament! ‘Nor does it give you.’  Pretty good, eh Carmen.  Inversion after an initial negative!  ‘Nor does it give you!’

CARMEN:  Not bad.  Getting better all the time!

ANA:          Nor does it overlook the Thames, and nor…

MARIA:     Could we get on! That queue over there must be the one to buy the tickets.   OK, we’ve got our tickets already so let’s join this queue here.   Everything in England has its queue.  Even one person standing on their own is the beginning of a queue.

CARMEN:    So when in Rome, do as Rome does.  Let’s start queueing! And we might as well learn something while we’re waiting.  (She gets out her book and reads.)

“Over 30 million people have visited the London Eye since it was opened in 2000.”

MARIA:     It was opened in 2000?

CARMEN:  Yes, it was to celebrate the new millennium. It says that 3.75 million people visit the London Eye each year. That’s more than St Paul’s Cathedral here in London or even the Taj Mahal.

ANA:           How many people visit the Taj Mahal?

MARIA:     You’re a typical scientist, Ana.  You have an unhealthy addiction to statistics.

CARMEN:  2.4 million tourists visit the Taj Mahal every year.

MARIA:     It’s such a romantic place.

ANA:           The London Eye?

MARIA:     No!  The Taj Mahal, of course.  There’s nothing romantic about the London Eye!  There is nothing romantic in London!  I don’t believe anyone could ever fall in love in London!  I don’t know how the Londoners manage. According to a little book I read, instead of sex here they have hot water bottles. That was the whole chapter on the love life here! Just one sentence! “In England, people do not have sex, they have hot water bottles.”

CARMEN:  Well, you’re wrong, Maria. At least about The London Eye.  About the hot water bottles, I have no idea. According to my book, the London Eye is the second most popular place in Europe to propose to someone.

MARIA:     To propose?

CARMEN:  Yes, to ask somebody to marry you!

MARIA:     I know what it means!

ANA:          Anyway, what’s the first?

MARIA:     I know.  It’s the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

CARMEN:  Correct!  How did you know that?

MARIA:     Well, it had to be! And it had to be a place that’s high up. The lack of oxygen affects the brain and stops the man from thinking rationally.  As a result, being so short of oxygen, he carries on and proposes.  I suppose the rest of life, after the proposal, is a constant fall back to earth.  Back to the dull reality of things.  That’s why so many novels finish with a wedding and don’t mention the married life afterwards.  The rest of life is an anti-climax! That’s why…    

CARMEN:  Thank you, Maria!  Anyway, the London Eye is in second place.  And if you really want to propose in style in the London Eye, you can reserve Cupid’s Capsule!

ANA:           What’s that?

CARMEN:  You can book a whole capsule, just for the two of you, and you are served champagne!

MARIA:     A capsule to yourselves.  With champagne! And someone to serve it, I suppose! And how much does all that cost?

CARMEN:  (Looking at her book) It costs £299, and that includes the champagne! 

ANA:           I should hope it does!  It’s a lovely idea, but it’s terribly expensive!  You’d have to marry a footballer to be able to afford it. 

MARIA:     I’m never going to get married! I want to be free!

ANA:           Not even if a young and handsome millionaire gave you champagne in Cupid’s capsule?

MARIA:     Ah, well that would be different!   But until that happens, I’m going to remain unattached!  I don’t believe in getting tied down!  An attachment is a complete waste of time!

ANA:          Come on, Maria!  Boyfriends give you presents.

MARIA:     Boyfriends give you headaches!

CARMEN:  Right.  Here we are.  Time to get on.

ANA:          Doesn’t the wheel stop?

MARIA:     It doesn’t look like it.

CARMEN:  No, you get in quickly and mind you don’t trip over!  We’re really lucky it’s so sunny.  We should be able to see as far as Windsor Castle.  That’s miles away!

MARIA:     OK, here it comes!  Let’s get on!

ANA:          Right, Out with the mobile. I want to take some photos! There are some fantastic views.

CARMEN:  Yes, Maria, even you must admit that London has some beautiful views.

MARIA:     The most beautiful view in London is the train to Gatwick Airport where I can get a plane back to Spain!

CARMEN:  Very funny!  Wait a moment.  I don’t think that’s original.  Somebody else said something like that, but I can’t remember who. Something about Scotland, I think.  It’ll come to me!

MARIA:     Well, it doesn’t matter!  Look at the capsule beneath us.  There are just two people in it, looking very self-conscious, and they’re having champagne.

CARMEN:  Cupid’s Capsule!

ANA:           I wonder if he’s going to propose.

MARIA:     No, he wouldn’t risk £300. He’ll have proposed already to make sure, and this is the celebration after!

CARMEN:  You are cynical, Maria!

MARIA:     No, just sensible!  Fancy spending £300 on a romantic gesture!  Ridiculous!  I’d never let my boyfriend do that for me and I certainly wouldn’t do it for him!  Never!

ANA:           I thought you were never going to have a boyfriend!

30 minutes later.  They have seen the view and taken the photo but they didn’t buy the T shirt.

ANA:           That was great, but I’d have preferred champagne in Cupid’s Capsule with Jude Law.

MARIA:     Some people are never happy!  Some people are always complaining! I never complain.

ANA:          Well, that’s rich coming from you.  You…

MARIA:     Anyway, now what?

CARMEN:  Now it’s lunch in a pub, and then we start the afternoon programme.

MARIA:     Any chance of a siesta? This is all too quick. In Spain, we would have an aperitif before lunch, then a long, long meal and then a relaxing cup of coffee before a siesta. And then…

CARMEN:  If you did that in London, the shops would be shut before you woke up.  There’s no time for siestas in London, I’m afraid! Come on. We’re having lunch in Covent Garden. Calum and Harry are meeting us there. Oh, by the way, here are their mobile numbers.  Just in case.

ANA:           Whose numbers?

CARMEN:  Well, Calum’s for a start.  And this is Harry’s.

(Ana and Maria put the numbers into their mobiles.)

ANA:           OK, I’ve got them.

MARIA:     So have I. Good, let’s get on then!

CARMEN:  Wait a minute.  Here’s Olly’s number too.

ANA:           OK, I’ve got it.

CARMEN:  Maria?

MARIA:     Why should I want Olly’s number? I’m not going to call Olly!

CARMEN:  OK, if that’s the way you want it.  You are touchy! ¡Mírame y no me toques!

ANA:           Exactly, Carmen. Look at me but don’t touch me! That’s how you are right now, Maria!

MARIA:      Well, I…

ANA:           Come on.  Let’s get on or we’ll be late.  How do we get to Covent Garden?

MARIA;     The whole day is a rush!  Life here is a terrible rush.  In Spain…

CARMEN:  Come on, Maria!

MARIA:     Right!  ¡Vamos!

Covent Garden

Carmen, Ana, Maria, Calum, Harry and Olly.

CALUM:    Look, before the girls come, let me give you their mobile numbers.  Then if anyone gets lost, we can phone each other.

HARRY:     Good idea.

(Harry and Olly put Carmen and Ana’s numbers into their mobiles.)

CALUM:    And here’s Maria’s.

HARRY:     OK, got it.

CALUM:    Olly?

OLIVER:    Well, there’s not much point in me having it.  I’m not going to ring Maria.  Never! Not in a blue moon!  Not in a month of Sundays!  And anyway, if I did ring her, she’d probably not answer!

CALUM:    OK.  Just as you like! Look here they are.

They meet up with Carmen, Ana and Maria, and they all go for a drink before lunch.  Over a beer, Oliver starts to tell them all about Covent Garden.

OLIVER:    This whole area is full of cafes and shops with music and entertainers in the street and jugglers and singers, but it used to be the fruit and vegetable market of London.  This was where all the shops and hotels bought their lettuces, carrots and onions.  At 4 o’clock in the morning it was a hive of activity with porters moving huge crates of potatoes around.  In fact…

MARIA:     I don’t know why you’re still talking!  Nobody’s listening to you!

OLIVER:    Ah, there you are! The one with no clothes! I thought you’d gone back to Madrid!

MARIA:     I have a whole week here, unfortunately! I have no choice!  I don’t know why I came.  London!  High prices!  Rain!  It’s so boring!

OLIVER:    Boring!  Well!  Maria, look at that poster over there.  No, not the Coca Cola advert.  That poster of Tower Bridge!

MARIA:     What of it?

OLIVER:    Read the text underneath.

MARIA:     “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of wife!”

OLIVER:    Well, almost!  It says, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life!”  “Life” not “wife”.  “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life!”  So there you are then!  We have it on the authority of Dr Johnson no less, that London is not boring!

MARIA:     Ah, but look at what it says!  It says, “a man”.  It doesn’t say anything about women, does it?  What about women?  “When a man or woman is tired of London, he or she is tired of life!”  That’s what it should be! Don’t we count? Typically sexist!  Sexist and boring!

OLIVER:    Maria, it pains me to say it, but you are sometimes very perverse!

MARIA:     Me perverse!

OLIVER:    Yes, you have a habit of saying things which you do not mean and reading things which you know are not there.

MARIA:     It’s just my eyes. I am short sighted.

OLIVER:    There is nothing wrong with your eyes. (To himself)  No, nothing at all!  Deep brown!  

MARIA:     What was that?

OLIVER:    Nothing, just a reflection.  Nothing of importance. I’ll come back when you’re in a better mood.  As you Spanish say, “Ciao”.

MARIA:     Ciao!  What do you mean, “Ciao!” That’s Italian!  Boring, sexist and no good at languages!

Which reminds me of a joke, which I would not have told in this company except that Olly has got me angry again!  Here we go!

If a person who speaks three languages is trilingual, and a person who speaks two languages is bilingual, what is a person who speaks one language?

Answer:  English!

CALUM:    Ah, that lets me out!  I’m Scottish!

MARIA:  OK.  Correction.  English or Scottish, Calum.

OLIVER:    (In the distance) Ciao Maria!

MARIA:     He’s so annoying!  (To herself) Just forget him, Maria!  Don’t think about him!  Now, what are we going to do this afternoon?  Oh the Globe, isn’t it? Boring!

CARMEN:  Maria, we’ve changed our minds.  We were going to Shakespeare’s Globe, but we know you don’t want to go there, so we’ll go to the Tower of London instead!   

MARIA:     That’s better!

ANA:           We’ll do the Globe another day, and we have to see the Tower anyway.  We can’t come to London and not visit the Tower. That’s like going to Granada and not visiting the Alhambra!

MARIA:     The Alhambra!  Just think!  Had I not come to London, I could be in the Alhambra now!  Third conditional with inversion to replace ‘if’! Ana, that beats your negatives!  ¡Toma ya!

ANA:           It’s not bad, I suppose.

CARMEN:  Maria, have you been drinking?

MARIA:     Yes, tea!  Two cups of tea, and my English is fluent!  Three cups and I talk like Shakespeare. You should try it!  I also have to dash to the loo but that’s just collateral damage!  Complex sentence structures all flow like the Thames after drinking two cups of tea!

ANA:           Tea spiked with something else!

MARIA:       Anyway, where was I?  Ah yes.  Had I not come to London, (She smiles at the others in triumph), had I not come to London, I could be listening to the gentle sound of the fountains of the Alhambra!  Had I not come to London, I could be sitting in the sun in the gardens of the Generalife beneath a palm tree.  Had I …

CARMEN:  But you’re in London, so just stop complaining.  To the Tower!  Come on!

MARIA:     ¡Siempre va con prisas! Bueno, ¡vámonos!