The smell of jumping to conclusions

In the afternoon, we went out, first to the library and then up to Crystal Palace on the bus, a real treat for La Serpiente. She loves buses, although they’re different in London. For a start, random blokes don’t often start up conversations with you on a Singaporean bus, and for another, if the bus isn’t jammed full of people, you don’t have to fold your baby buggy, whereas in Singapore there can be absolutely no compromise: whether you’re alone or with help, weighed down with a nine-month pregnancy or not, you’re going to have to fold and carry that contraption yourself. So that’s two things London has going for it.

When we reached Crystal Palace, it was getting close to three, and we’d had no lunch. For some reason, Crystal Palace is now packed with Spanish and Portuguese and Latin American restaurants and bars (as well as the motley array of [American state] Fried Chicken joints, and the curiously named (and tricolore-themed) Chinese takeaway, Mamma Mia) and shortly we found ourselves in a Brazilian place. We ordered soup and I sat down with Destroyer attached to me, while La Serpiente went off to explore. Or visit the downstairs toilet.

I sat and waited for my delicious soup, until my nose was assaulted by the stench of raw sewage. I looked around. None of the other customers seemed perturbed in the slightest. Was it normal for the denizens of Crystal Palace to tuck into lunch in a miasma of ordure? Was this another example of the superiority of Singapore when it came to food hygiene, or did Brazilian food smell like shit?

And then I realised that, of course, I had a five month old attached to me who’d just managed a major evacuation. I took her downstairs to discover something that would put you off pumpkin soup for life (happily, I’d ordered the broccoli) and spent ten minutes alternately swearing and cleaning her up, wondering how I could have been so dumb and so quick to blame others for the smell. I’ll have to keep blaming the jet lag…


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