Smurf-sized buildings. Clouds the color of wet cement.. An accent that hints at mild retardation. A smattering of foods which apparently include cardboard and something vaguely ichthyological as the main ingredients. Fashion includes long dark coats to hide short dark skirts which do nothing to disguise skin the color of printer paper. Your average fit person here resembles a throw pillow.
Ridiculously small streets host impish cars for a population that believes driving lanes are just a suggestion. On nearly every street corner, one can see Tolkien’s inspiration for The Hobbit. Entertainment here revolves around the odd poetry gathering, pub brawls, and restaurants full of cursing Brits shouting at the tellie in support of their national football (soccer) team. Manchester United got their asses kicked by Spain recently so there is a drooping cockiness in the air.
Since Starbucks has invaded the place, the whole tea experience has become a corporate affair and more folks are hyped up on caffeine and cupcakes than the traditional tea and crumpets, which makes understanding the usually-un-excitable British folks akin to taking dictation for Ozzy Osbourne.
Double-decker buses really exist, although based on the depressed faces currently pressed up against the glass and offering a stuck-out tongue or frequently raised middle finger, Londoners hate them. A side note: While fighting the French, the English used Longbows, which were plucked to shoot an arrow. When the French captured English soldiers, the French would cut off the English soldiers’ middle fingers, which made it virtually impossible to fire the longbow. In battle, when the English made the French retreat, or just to taunt them, the English would raise their middle fingers at the French to show them that they still had their middle fingers. Over time it has taken on the meaning of F.U. One receives this gesture a lot here.
In America, we teach our kids to look left-right-left before crossing the street. A note to future American tourists: That is bad advice when traveling in London! Looking left does nothing. Start with right and finish with right. Nothing ever comes from the left except the blank space of an empty street while you are getting pasted on your right side by Mildred Rimplehauser – she of bi-focals and utter lack of coordination – who apparently passed her driver’s exam by paying off the local Bobby with a stiff drink and something promiscuous.
Anyway, that’s my take on London. Oh, and there’s a big friggin’ clock here too.