Random London Observations I

We’re living in the City of London, which is, interestingly, not the same thing as London, the city. One is the original city, founded by the Romans and then eventually taken over by multinational banks and insurance firms. Though there was a gap of a few years in between those two events. So the City, also known as the Square Mile, is distinct from London and has its own Lord Mayor and police force, and what appears to be a city ordinance mandating men’s haberdasheries on every block. And wine bars on alternating blocks. We like it here.

We went to a restaurant down the street, which served a pretty decent dim sum. They had a Sunday meal special (it’s dead here in the City on the weekends) with a deal that was ‘Eat all you can manage’. I don’t know, but that seems a lot more genteel than the US equivalent which is ‘All you can eat’. One reminds me of folks sitting around having tea and biscuits on lace doilies, wearing top hats and petticoats, while the other brings up mental images of a pack of wolves tearing apart a caribou. You know, like Golden Corral Buffet. Not that I’d actually know, because Mary never lets me go there, even though they now have cotton candy and chocolate fountains. Chocolate freakin’ fountains, man! You never see chocolate fountains here.

Sandwich bars are huge, at least here in the City of London. Lots of office workers, looking for quick lunches in between grabbing a quick pint at the corner pub, and having a smoke. There must be like thirty different chains serving sandwiches, soups and salads.

I thought I’d put a partial list but I’m not really sure that’s a good idea. I’m a bit of a completionist, due to my OCD tendencies, and it’s possible a task like this might take a week or three. I will just concentrate on the three block area surrounding us. There’s Pret A Manger, EAT, Paul (a French style patisserie with baguette sandwiches), Burger Barn, a Panini place, and a street stand that sells, I kid you not, Philly steak sandwiches. I haven’t the nerve to try them yet, but the burrito I had at a chain called Wrap It Up wasn’t bad. There’s also a butcher that sells baguettes stuffed with lovely fillings. There’s this sausage and onion on a baguette deal they sell in the morning that tempts me something fierce. The aroma is awe-inspiring.  It’s especially tough when I pass it on the way to the gym in the morning. I just feel an overwhelming urge to just say, “The hell with it, I’m going inhale one of those things”. But I haven’t yet.

I think the average Brit gets at least 50% of their daily caloric intake from alcohol. Another 25% from treacle tart, and the remaining 25% from chips or as we refer to them in the States, Freedom Fries. Which really isn’t a slam since I’m convinced that Americans get something like 70% of their calories from sodas. 128 ounce MegaSuperBigGulps rule! Okay, it is a slam, but I’m slamming everyone equally, so it doesn’t really count.

The good news is that smoking is now prohibited is pubs and restaurants. The bad news is that the smokers are now all standing around, outside of the pubs. England appears to have a higher proportion of the population that smokes than the US. Mary’s of the opinion that the proportion of smokers in Colorado is so much smaller than in the rest of the US, that seeing more than one or two people smoking in a day is still disorienting for us. So we find it a little surprising to see people standing outside in the rain, drizzle, mist, sleet, and fog, puffing away on a fag. And that’s in the face of the warnings on the cigarette packs that say things like “YOU WILL DIE AND KILL EVERY ONE AROUND YOU, IF YOU SMOKE!” and “SMOKING LEADS TO ADDICTION AND THEN GUM CHEWING AND FINALLY CUTTING IN LINE AT THE CINEMA, SO DON’T START!”


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