And Shakespeare Lived Here: Hatch’em, Match’em, Dispatch’em, And Catch’em.

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,

an Australian,

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…

Well anyway,

this monstrously huge place

that takes over an hour in a fast train

in all directions

to see all of…

Right.

So what I love most about London is….

the fact that nothing is ever used for what it was made to be used for,

and yet,

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?)

So anyway,

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.

So anyway,

should,

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.

Truly, y’all.

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.

Sorry.

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.

Didn’t work?

Ok

So how about:

In London,

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,

turn back,

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,

Fridays’,

which is open twenty-four seven,

but you can’t get a seat after work on….

Fridays.

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”

in America,

and

“this is an oyster, which always leads you away from the water,

never to”

in British.

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 films,

free history lessons on the generals, benefactors, Victorian businessmen,

free concerts,

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,

entertained,

by pantomimes,

and clowns,

and wanna be-s

until the stars show up,

which is why everyone is really there.

Then there is vegetarian mock-turtle soup,

chinese pizza,

tea cookies,

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,

which is,

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.”

copyright Dunnasead.co 2016 All rights reserved.

14 Comments

    1. Actually, I’m back now, Bun, and wallowing in the glorious time I had there. Books, and plays, and long walks, and good tea. And music music music. yesterday my day here started at five am and I was still on my feet after midnight. And I have to buy pg tips from a Chinese woman who imports it. Or drink east Friesan tea. Which isn’t bad really. I guess all countries have good things when you have the time to enjoy them. And the peace of heart. Thanks for writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Having lived in The Smoke until I was 18, I have a love-hate thing going. My parents came from the friendlier North of England, where I now live, but I still like London for quick getaways. Nice piece with a personal, even quirky, take on the place.

    Like

    1. This is in answer to a question from Dave I had to remove because a stalker from a consortium I previously wrote for was using his question to try to disrupt my page:

      Actually, I love London and the people there- (when you have lived a while among closed, critical Germans, almost anything is better) but I do know what you mean. My trip to Nottingham years ago, for a shots on the page, was phenominal. Friendly people in the streets, the church on Sunday filled, and everyone apparently truly thankful. But then, I was a tourist-working, but a tourist. I have to assume that makes a difference, but I haven’t experienced it yet. (except to be constantly attacked on politics by londoners- hey, do I look like a member of the diplomatic mission, or what guys? I will vote in November for anyone, or, as a girlfriend of mine wrote, any electrical appliance, running at the moment, who stops personal attacks on opponents and starts making sense. Hmmm- looks like I may not vote this year)

      Like

      1. Nope, just non-Americans curious about American politics, ie afraid of world-wide big power politics and of not being able to vote although it affects the world, which I understand (I just wish it were a bit more reasonably stated) and for some reason religion, which they see as a wild card due to separation of church and state. Surprisingly almost everyone we talked to this visit, from cabbies and hotel staff, to teachers in the park, and U professors, were pro-Brexit, and if not, then because they were afraid of cuts in research grants and travel money. Only from a Scots friend did we hear that he felt himself to be a European. (And of course friends who were actually European but working at a redbrick u. )

        Like

  2. That made me laugh! I love London; I hop over about once every 2 years, and love to walk the streets, take the ferries (I totally agree with you about the Tube – it’s sometimes faster to walk to your destination than climb Kilimanjaro’s worth of stairs…), hit my favourite shops, museums and neighbourhoods, and write. I use the trips as research excuses for whatever novel I’m working on. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually got a whale of an idea for something I’m now writing by watching what is on play-wise in London. And what isn’t playing-due to the economy. And it’s all the little bits of info on the street ie signs, posters, etc, that can’t be really researched except by walking around that do it. Half of everything being written, or played in theaters, here at the moment is British, or French farce, or Hungarian, or Dario Fo. Only problem plays are coming out of German pens.
      (Or the unabridged Schiller) And sometimes, especially at times like this, you just have to laugh or go under.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree! Being “there” – wherever “there” is – is irreplaceable research. I’ve spent a day in a Norse longhouse in Norway, writing down the impressions of smells, lighting, sounds, interior elements, exterior, etc. that were simply not experienceable online… breathing the atmosphere translated into a book that comes alive in readers’ hands! Same with London; spending time on a sailing vessel like the Cutty Sark, seeing the miles of ropes and sails overhead, hearing the wind (even in port) whistling through the ropes, realizing the size of the pulleys and the texture of the wood, and picking the brains of curators is worth its weight in gold for research!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup. London cabbies have a special lobe for driving in the city. Anyone flying out of frankfurt has a special Airport Survival section in their brain.
        And this year they want to add two more runway sections, which we are fighting like crazy. Still, our little university town, due east of fft is nice. And just big enough to have a big city feel. But not like Zürch, of course. (We’ve been there, and Genf, and Carrouge for conferences.) who knows. maybe we’ll bump into each other some day. thanks for writing.

        Liked by 1 person

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