Day 1: Arrival in London

Morning in America

I’ll never understand morning people. They act so superior just because they wake up early. They boast about how productive they are and how peaceful everything is before the day begins. Then they eat lunch at 11:00 and fall asleep on the couch at 9:00. Guess what, morning people, you’re not superior. You’re not more productive. You’re a farmer without a farm. Do you know what’s on TV at 5:00? The farm report. Do you know why? Because only farmers need to be awake that early. Now either get some cows or get some sleep already.

Needless to say, I was cranky due to my 5:30 pickup. Do you know what else is peaceful and deserted at 5:00 in the morning? The airport. So I had plenty of time to change my money and peruse the pornography at Hudson News.

Side note: what’s the deal with the airport porn anyway? Who’s buying so much porn at the airport that every airport newsstand has a robust porn section? Where are they reading all of this airplane porn?

Side side note: last time we went on vacation I ended up in the separate fourth seat and sat next to a European guy who proceeded to watch “Blue is the Warmest Color” on the flight. After the first graphic lesbian love scene he kept his finger on the fast forward button (no joke – his other hand was below the tray) but that first scene was a doozy. The old lady in our row seemed quite surprised. Come to think of it, he’s probably the target market for the airport porn.

NOT appropriate for the airplane, even for Euros

NOT appropriate for the airplane, even for Euros

Strange Currencies

When traveling internationally I always like to change $9,500 – not because I need that much money but because that’s the most you can change without getting the Feds involved. I seldom like to get the Feds involved in my affairs.

The thing about British money is that you have to worry about the exchange rate and the confusing denominations. A pound sterling is like one of our normal dollars but it costs almost 2 dollars to buy. The pound can be broken into pence, and just like our coins, it’s 100 pence to a pound. A farthing is half a pence and you get 16 farthings to a button.

What most Americans (aside from me, noted Anglophile) don’t understand is that the whole British currency system is based on the button standard. Obviously this dates back hundreds of years when all barter was based on buttons. I was surprised when I first learned this but it kind of make sense when you think about it. There are even remnants of the button standard in modern language: a “button man” is a paid assassin. “On the button” means to pay an exact amount.

That's NOT Dowager Grantham

That’s NOT Dowager Grantham

British Airways

Jealously coursed through my veins as I walked through the business class (or, as I like to call it, Lyn class) section of the plane. Their beautiful individual cabins, lie flat seats and porn privacy curtains looked dreamy. I was located in the sub-par middle section. Well I thought it was subpar until I visited the loo in the coach section and had to see what those poor chumps were dealing with: 5 seats across, no leather and nary a banger nor mash in sight. So that’s the first life lesson I’ve gained on this trip: bringer your own bangers if you’re traveling in coach. Oh, and be grateful for what you have because it could always be worse.

Upper Middle Class

Upper Middle Class

Finally in London

My reputation as poor driver is well deserved, but my reputation as an expert map reader is sadly under reported. After clearing customs (barely, I had a lot of foreign soil, produce and animals hidden in my bag) I made my way to the Heathrow Express (aka train) and then the Underground (aka subway). Now, I’ve always been a supporter of the MBTA but the tube was a very different experience. None of the passengers were loudly arguing with themselves or dancing to their cell phone speaker and there were three Bobbies (aka cops) on one long subway car. There’d have to be a mass murder for three cops to show up on the blue line back home. The first Bobbie I saw was an adorable woman with a cute checkered bowler hat. So, on the one hand, there’s a heavy police presence to deter crime. On the other hand, the cops can be described as adorable, lessening the impact of their presence.

Walking out of the underground I rain to this old fellow:

 

Not that Big, Ben

Not that Big, Ben

And from there I made my way to the Park Plaza Westminster, obviously hours too late for the Marc Ford show I was hoping to catch. Nonetheless I was happy to be in London after a full day of watching “Damages” season 3 on the plane. I availed myself to a traditional British supper of canned gin, weird beer and really cheesy Wotsits:

Brilliant!

Brilliant!

Side side side note: my phone doesn’t work at all so I’m fully dependent on free wifi for email and messaging. This really is the old country!

Tomorrow the real adventure begins…trying to figure out how to order coffee.

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