In times of Brexit, it is strange to remember how many young people born in the 80s developed the feeling of being European, of belonging to a larger community than their own country, in London, the top European trend in music, art and parties in the early 2000s.
We are in the year 2000, the Twin Towers are still in place, European countries are preparing to replace their currencies with the euro and low-cost flights are just a nice idea yet to come. In this background, a 15-year-old boy from La Rioja in Spain is preparing for one of the many study-holidays to learn the english language.
The accomodation in London
I am staying with an English family, I still don’t master the language, but the contacts I make at the institute are very nice and new for me, it is the first time I communicate in a language that is not mine. Unfortunately, my light-hearted days as a teenager who thinks he is conquering the world are often ruined by the infamous London weather. Even if it’s August, it’s not uncommon to see the four seasons follow one another in a single day: I can leave home with a beautiful summer sun, arrive at school with heavy rain, leave with a cold wind and come home with sun again. This is also dangerous for my belly which, combined with the British diet, is particularly vulnerable in this London summer.
One day, while I’m attending my language class, I get a shock from my lower belly that makes me run to the bathroom in a panic and, without thinking too much, I sit on the toilet and dump everything in my body. I feel much better. Almost relaxed, I reach for the toilet paper holder and…..disaster, it’s empty! There’s no paper, I’m not carrying any tissues and there are no paper towels on the sink. Panic. The human mind, when subjected to stress, becomes much more reactive. So in a few seconds the strangest ideas go through my head: wiping with socks, not really nice but I would feel the cold on my feet and anyway other people would notice; Underpants? Panties yes! I don’t think about it too much, I take them off my trousers and clean my noble parts almost with satisfaction. A second later, however, a new problem arises, how to get rid of them? I certainly can’t flush them down the toilet, it would clog them up. Again, I think agile and decide to hide the hideous textile-feces mass behind the sink. I rinse my hands and quickly head to class. The perfect crime.
Unfortunately half an hour later I come back to reality, a visibly upset school janitor enters the classroom, shouting in English at all the students, in his hand he holds a swollen bag on the bottom. My blood freezes…. It is just as it seems, he found my underwear full of sin and in that moment, ONLY IN THAT MOMENT, another detail comes to my mind that makes my blood run even colder. My mother, as prudent as any mother, uses to stitch my name on the edge of my underwear so that they don’t get mixed up when washing them in the communal laundry. I can already see myself spending the rest of my days locked up in the Tower of London.
Actually, all the pupils react quite badly to the janitor who is accusing everyone, I, so as not to arouse any suspicion, but still with my name stitched on my head, join the protests. I am terrified anyway, the teacher and the janitor discuss something and go out together. I try to be rational and maybe the ones I had were the only underwear WITHOUT my name. The minutes turn into hours, the alarm slowly goes off and no one comes looking for me. I return home that day without my underwear, a little irritated in the noble parts, but certainly more European.