London through a local’s eyes
By Charlotte Dunlap | BSU at the Games
Jolting his hands up in the air simultaneously to the beats of the song, 21-year-old Fred Smiley was noticeably enjoying the concert at Hyde Park.
His trendy mohawk haircut matched the rest of his get-up—light gray straight-leg jeans with a snap-back hat attached to a belt loop, a blue zip-up and a neon-blue Adidas backpack.
In my eyes, Fred seemed to be a typical 21-year-old guy from London taking advantage of what the Olympic Games has brought to his hometown.
As much as Americans are intrigued with the British accent, I have come to find out that our American accent is just as if not more intriguing to people in Europe. Like any tourist would do, I asked the name of the band and after that one question, the routine “Are you from the States?” question started up a conversation that I found myself excited to be in.
Fred was down-to-earth, humble and outgoing. He seemed to be “in the know” about everything going on in London. So I took advantage of making a new friend and invited myself along to see London through his eyes for an afternoon.
Fred rushed from the Oxford tube station to the nearest corner café, weaving his way in and out between the mash-up of people. Fred had mastered the art of turning the body 90 degrees to slide in between oblivious passers-by on the street. Now living in Essex, Oxford Circus is a place he visits only when need be.
Deciding on where the day’s meal would take place, Caribbean Bay was his decision. One would think the chosen spot would be Café Fred, located nearby, but Caribbean food was on the menu for lunch.
Silverware = cutlery, Fred said.
Precisely explaining the components of the jerk chicken meal, Fred opened his grape soda and started into his meal. “London is a much more lively place to live,” he said. “I moved to Essex a few years ago and I like being able to come to London whenever I want. It’s a short trip”.
“O.M.G.” Fred said. He paused for what felt like an hour. “I swallowed the bone,” he said. Coughing repeatedly, Fred guzzled his grape soda, anxiously trying to get the chicken bone that he swallowed to slide down his throat.
Fred sighed with relief that the chicken bone finally passed through his throat. “You know, American girls have a glow about them,” Fred said. “You can kind of tell who’s from America and who’s not.”
Strapping on his neon-blue Adidas backpack, Fred made his way to the door and took a left down the street. “See, I only go shopping when I need something. … I am in and I am out,” he said.
Strutting into Niketown, Fred was shocked at the amount of people shopping. “Honestly I have never seen this place so full … The Olympics have done so much good for all these places. It has brought in so much money,” Fred said.
Fred was patient with the hectic sidewalks slammed with people as he went in and out of different shops, mostly shoe stores. “It is nice to come to this area when I want and not live here. The Tube is only a short distance from Essex,” he said.
Kindly taking a bottle of water that was being passed out on the sidewalks, Fred remembered he had obligations outside of town. “I have to go pick up a car that I am using for a week,” he said. “Most of us don’t have cars around here, its pointless. Insurance is outrageous for us at this age to drive.”
Sharing a few last words, it was obvious Fred’s personality not only blasted through his style, his gestures and his laugh, but also through his genuine aura. “I am traveling to L.A. for a month here in a few weeks. I know it’s where I have to go to make something of my passion for acting,” Fred said.
Without seconding-guessing himself, Fred smiled and was on his way, blending right in with the rest of the rushing crowd toward the Tube station. “Good luck in London!” he yelled.
Charlotte Dunlap is a senior telecommunications major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at @charr_mariee, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
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