Wednesday, June 11, 2014

London: Day 3, Tuesday

The girls in Chinatown, post-lunch, armed with lollipop treats, now smiling and perfectly happy.

Tuesday wasn't as traumatic, no medical emergencies. We'd meant to get up and go see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, but still recovering from jet-lag, we slept too late. Alack alas. Other plans.

The morning: We went to Westminster Abbey, braving the ongoing steady rain. As a devout Anglophile, it was high on Sarah's to-do list: coronations, royal weddings, lots and lots of famous dead people, all the good stuff. I'll say it now: Westminster Abbey is crazy, just an insane amount of stuff going on: the tremendous ornate grandeur of the building itself; a bizillion little alcoves and grottoes, each of great import; and again, all the famous dead people. There were free little follow-it-yourself audio-tour-headphones-thing-a-ma-bobs, explaining, step-by-step, the historical significance of each location in the abbey. I found the combination of the over-the-top physical environment and the narration of some posh British guy waxing historic in my ear just too much — sensory overload — so I just walked around ooh-ing and ah-ing at the pretty/crazy stuff.1 Sarah and June completely geeked out on the audio tour, pure Anglophile delight.

Afternoon: Lunch. I'd identified a highly promising Chinese restaurant in London's tiny little Chinatown, a decent walk across the heart of the center city. And so I led the way, trying my best to follow the guidance of my phone-map, as our little blue dot marched through the twisty-turny streets.2 We passed some of the great sights of London: Trafalgar Square, St. James Park with its very-significant-horsey-marching-ground-the-name-of-which-I-can't-recall-right-now, many grand sights. The girls didn't give a damn. They were falling apart: hungry and wet (and in fairness, Louise was gimping along on her swollen potato foot). At last we arrived in Chinatown and — it seemed like a miracle — found the restaurant I sought. It was ridiculously good, real legit Chinese food. And after their bellies were full and blood-sugar levels returned to normal, everyone forgave me for the (supposedly) arduous journey.

Night: My parent's dear old friends live in London. We took an extensive journey3 to their house for dinner with their family. It was a lovely reunion. I had gone to kindergarten in Kenya with their daughter, Lucy,4 who was also there with her own offspring. We sat and ate and chatted about all sorts of things, comparing notes on life in England vs. the U.S. (I was informed that American and British toilets have entirely different "innards". I hadn't actually observed this myself.) And special treat: at the end of the evening, Lucy — who is the head sound engineer for BBC — invited us to come by the BBC headquarters for a private tour later in the week. Thank yous for the lovely evening were exchanged. And we made the long journey back home.


1 Funny moment: As the crowd herded past the sights, I spotted a middle-aged lady wearing a New Orleans Saints rain poncho, clearly a member of our own home tribe. I happened to have my own Saints hat tucked into my bag. (I wasn't wearing it, seeing as how we were in a church.) At one point, in one of the teeny grottoes (or alcoves or whatever it was), we passed close together. I discreetly pulled out my hat and flashed it at her and whispered, "Who dat?" She laughed and gave me a maternal pat on the arm, and we went on our disparate ways.

2 The GPS in London seemed to suck, because my little blue dot regularly became a big vague dot, drifting off into the middle of some block somewhere, leaving me at a loss as to which of the quaint little alleys we were supposed to follow. But despite the occasional mis-turns and double-backs, we always managed to get where we were going.

3 A little bit of bus, a lot of tube, a lot more bus, some walking. (London is huge. We were staying in the southern realms. They lived far to the north.)

4 Lucy, miraculously, was an adult. I suppose this shouldn't surprise me. We were the same age in kindergarten, and as temporal logic dictates, we're the same age now. Still, it's weird re-acquainting with someone one knew as a small child. The memory preserves things in stasis. Real time marches on.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps you need to explore the innards of toilets, Slimbo!!