Some Brief Thoughts on London
Tomorrow is my last day in London before I head to Oxford. Everyone here has funny accents, but I guess that’s true of most places you go. My time has been very enjoyable: nice people, interesting sites, unseasonably warm weather. I set the tone for my week in London on the first day, when I got a lot accomplished: I bought a phone, saw some buildings, and drank a few pints. Here are some travel tips: to get a pay as you go phone ask for the cheapest phone with the cheapest plan (an Alcatel FM with Lebara top up service), and to get a pint just order one.
I suppose I should dedicate a paragraph to the beer of England because—as a drunk and jolly Brit told me—it is very important to British culture. After work, everyone heads to the pub, gets a beer, stares into it and wishes someone would come to talk to them, and then heads home when no one does. This is sad: I made a point of trying to talk to the locals staring into their beer, and had a few of my own. My first beer was a light ale, which wasn’t very good, and then I ordered a stout, which was dark and chocolaty with notes of coffee. Most beers here have a lot of body but very little flavor, which is a nice change from the beers my fraternity buys at home, which have no body and no flavor.
Yesterday I went into an umbrella store. The average umbrella cost around 200 pounds, or $320 dollars. With prices like that, I’m surprised that people have money left over for anything else. And yet, they do: I have seen more sports cars during my time here than I have ever seen anywhere, ever. You cannot walk down the street without seeing a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Mercedes or BMW. Needless to say, I have not yet purchased an umbrella.
I did, however, spend eight pounds to get into an exhibit on Post-Modernism at the VNA museum. The exhibit inspired me to write a book of postmodernist historical fiction. In the book, characters representing different cultures of the world travel around on all kinds of plucky adventures: I’ll throw gruff old Uncle Sam in there to represent America, and maybe Cromwell for Britain and Remus and Romulus for Rome, and the entire time Remus and Romulus will complain about the journey and refuse to help anyone out, instead insisting that they’re dead, which they are, but it will be symbolic because Rome has fallen. So yeah, I’m still not quite sure the aim of the post-modernist movement, but I did see a 2000-year-old urn on which someone had painted “Coca-Cola.” Although I have a suspicion that it was a waste of a perfectly good urn, just the urn was probably worth the eight pound entry fee. Maybe. It’s very easy to spend a lot in this country and only get a little. Examples of things in England that I deem too expensive:
1) The aforementioned umbrellas
I didn’t want a stapler, but it’s discomforting to know that if I needed one, it would have cost me a cool ten pounds. That’s equivalent to sixteen dollars for a stapler. That’s a lot for a stapler. Now, it should be noted that not everything in England costs a lot. Here is a list of things I got for free:
1) Entry to the Tate Modern and a view of the Rosetta Stone
2) Entry to the 2012 Olympic Site
3) A view of Buckingham Palace
I could probably get a free dog as well, because a lot of hobos seemed to have dogs, and if you don’t have money for a home you probably don’t have money for a dog, so I’m assuming that dogs around here are free. In fact, I’m sure I could have gotten a free dog. However, I thought it would be a hassle to take on the bus, so I didn’t get one. I’m sure that, if I want one, I can find one at Oxford. If he’s brown I’ll name him coffee, after England’s dark beer, and if he’s light I’ll name him Dish Water, after England’s light beer.