Wednesday, September 24, 2014

the london bits

I am drafting this on our flight from London to Seattle.

Even though it is an afternoon flight, most of the passengers are sleeping on their flat bed seats.  Me?  I am basking in the glow of my laptop monitor.  That gives you an idea how easily I snooze on airplanes -- even when the conditions are optimum for sleep.

Instead, I will put together some snippets that I have not yet shared with you on our post-cruise London visit.

Even though there was a day when I would make an annual trip to London to refresh my wardrobe, those days are long gone.  On this trip, I had a very short list: an extra formal shirt for my white tie costume (single French cuffs, thank you very much); a lens cap for my camera; a box of pickled onion crisps; and some underwear.

As you can guess from the photograph, I ended up only with two pair of underwear.  And not quite what I wanted. 

During my two years living in England, I became quite fond of a certain style of underwear.  Boxers.  Cotton jersey.  Cloth over the elastic waist band.  Reasonably priced.

Since then, I have periodically replenished my stock at Harrods, Selfridges, and Marks and Spencer.  Apparently, styles have changed.  The only similar product sold by Harrods were brocaded silk at about $470 (US) a piece.  Nothing at Marks and Spencer.  All Selfridges offered were white boxers at about $60 each.  I bought two pair -- and mourned the passing of an era.

This man, perched atop the Selfridges marquee, appears to be suffering the same problem I had.  Searching for a good pair of underwear.


You know how much I love trains.  Rather than hiring a car or taking a bus from Harwich back into London, I convinced Ken and Patti to take the train.  The Harwich Express.

Despite being the only direct train to London that day, we had our carriage almost exclusively to ourselves.  Or so I thought.  Apparently, the engineer had dropped his bottle in the seat behind me.


Shooting the horse-mounted soldiers at Horse Guards is a favorite tourist activity.  I decided to reverse the project.  How the horse boys manage to not laugh when faced with such Kafkaesque behavior is beyond me.


This bar-restaurant may have been on Shaftesbury for some time.  But I noticed it for the first time while on our hop on-hop off bus tour.  Any place named the Ape and Bird deserves a visit.  Next time.


On that same bus, the commentary must have told us ten times about one of the most questionable bits of travel lore.  It goes like this.  If you stand in Piccadilly Circus for 37 minutes, you will see someone you know or recognize. 

I doubt it.  I have.  And I haven’t.  Unless the theory includes the possibility of seeing the same stranger you saw five minutes earlier.  But that would simply be a shameless tautology, wouldn’t it?

In any event, I like these crowd shots.  There are always plenty of stories playing out in the human bait ball.  Such as, what is up with that couple on the far right?

If you look closely, you can see the marquee for the theater where I saw Jimmy Stewart in Harvey in the 1970s.  The circus has been greatly revised since then.  But it still has that “center of London” feel to it.*


And what would a post of London be without a tourist cliché shot?  I waited for what I thought would be  just the right moment.

I can count at least four London clichés.  There may be more.  Take a shot at identifying them.

* – Yes.  Yes.  I know.  Piccadilly Circus is not the center of London.  At least for measuring purposes.  That honor goes to the diminutive figure of Charles I mounted on a horse in Trafalgar Square.  But, I ask you, what is more central -- young people having fun or a monarch about to lose his head?

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