One of the things I love most about the city of London,
And I REALLY DO love London-
well, maybe not as much as my ‘adopted Londoner’ Welsh friend
who has an about one by two foot copy of Big Ben,
made out of old wrist watch parts,
on the wall next to his bed.
Where his wife has to look at it at strategic moments.
Or his wife,
who gets back at him by having a signed two foot by three-foot copy
of a scene from the film Beowulf
on her side.
(she works at the British museum.
He just likes Big Ben)
So anyway, what I love most about the city,
or greater city
or city of greater…
this monstrously huge place
that takes over an hour in a fast train
in all directions
to see all of…
So what I love most about London is….
the fact that nothing is ever used for what it was made to be used for,
everything always still looks like it is not only functioning,
it looks as if it is indeed functioning spiffily.
(Sorry real Brits- I get this way by reading Bertie Wooster (Wodehouse)
while traveling through Harry Potter land.
Sort of a massive over-dose of Britishism,
right in the normally empty blue-blood section of my veins.
Not to mention the gloriously posh Avengers,
Sir Peter Whimsey,
Martha Grimes’ list of pub murder mysteries,
(the English of which my Aussie girlfriend thinks is a real hoot)
Hey, I learn Britishisms from Martha,
and the Brits just laugh.
C’est la vie.
(Translation: that’s the way the wicket crumbles.
Or was it a crumpet?)
and just in case someone thinks I have insulted them-
which is so incredibly much easier to do on the internet
than face to face…
should we ever meet up for real, dear reader,
and should you be British,
or parts there near to,
which I learned just recently are not represented by a union jack,
which is only on a boat,
but by a union flag,
which you can wave.
And has three crosses.
And usually a small tag saying made in China
and three pounds ninety-nine.
as I have mentioned above,
we meet up,
you can make fun of my southern accent.
You have my genuine cross my heart and swear by Abolition T Cornpone promise.
And just to make it easier,
I suggest we meet at Somerset House,
now a concert hall,
but once the place for keeping all kinds of London statistics,
from birth, marriage, death, to tax records,
and therefore known locally
as hatch ’em, match ’em, dispatch ’em, and catch ’em.
Learned that from a boat captain,
while commuting to work down the Thames,
(see… you expect tube and bus travel, boats are faster)
and just had to try to sneak it in.
So how about:
the national theatre is the place where you meet to buy cheap books
and drink cocktails with friends,
the tube system is where you go to get exercise:
up two thousand stairs,
switch to the lift,
walk through the tunnel,
take the branch-off tunnel,
walk another three miles,
take the twelve-minute escalator to the top,
climb the stairs,
run through the traffic at the circle at the speed of light,
and then find out you have somehow taken the wrong bend,
and are right back where you started.
At Piccadilly Circus.
You always end up at Piccadilly Circus.
Until Eros takes pity on you,
and sends an overground bus to Hyde Park your direction.
Mind the gap.
Then there is English breakfast,
which is often served all day,
which is open twenty-four seven,
but you can’t get a seat after work on….
Then there is the oyster card,
a pale blue plastic card with a darker blue oval with a line through it on the cover-
meaning “no entrance here ”
or “tunnel closed”
“this is an oyster, which always leads you away from the water,
And you have to put lots of oyster sauce on,
like about three pounds per day,
to make it work.
But it is a handy little critter, I do have to admit.
All you have to do is smack it against a turnstile occasionally,
for it to guard your journey.
And for the turnstile to make that glorious “thump” sound as you go through.
Then there are the parks of London-
free history lessons on the generals, benefactors, Victorian businessmen,
including the Proms,
the symphony promotion nights,
one of the greatest inventions anywhere.
Oh, and the movie houses,
especially the one at Leicester Square,
are really not for films,
especially the premieres,
which are almost always sold out,
they are for standing in a line,
waiting for a ticket that will never materialize,
while being contained-
by police and private security,
and wanna be-s
until the stars show up,
which is why everyone is really there.
Then there is vegetarian mock-turtle soup,
which contain no tea,
and Peter Pan,
which is visible in Hyde Park unless it is being renovated,
because his pan has petered out.
And I could go on forever, here,
except that I am afraid of getting caught in a stimulus-feel, write-think loop,
as I see it,
the basis of life in London.
And, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson
“so you think you’ve got it all figured out now?
Not in London.”
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Teacher, Musician, Composer, Conductor, Writer. Sometimes the one, sometimes all. Life is good.