Friday, November 25, 2005

Snapshots from London

We made it here safely and without incident. Except when I got £200 out of the ATM at the airport, I promptly dropped all my bills on the ground like a tacky tourist.

Some natives called us "mates" on our elevator lift last night.

The term water closet isn't just an adorable English euphemism. The room with the toilet -- at least in our hotel -- is barely large enough for me and my feet when I try to close the door. My shoes back in Chicago enjoy more closet. (And, presumably, less water.)

Speaking of water, the toilet in our water closet is designed for maximum splashage -- sort of a poor man's bidet. Now with a resonant kerplunking sound!

"Our" water closet is actually a misnomer here; we're staying in a hotel with sinks in the rooms and private toilets/showers in public bathrooms scattered randomly down the halls. You have to call the front desk for a towel and someone to unlock the showers, but the beds are cozy, the room is warm and you can hear construction (or maybe banging pipes) all night long.

Then again, we're paying £56 each—TOTAL—for four nights in a hotel that's mere steps from a Tube stop right in the heart of the theatre district ... which, for those of us still mastering the exchange rate, is roughly 100 dollars. (For some reason, this keyboard doesn't have a dollar sign. Someone notify the queen.)

Only a moron would forget to pack shampoo and deodorant when he went on vacation. Only a moron.

We went to G-A-Y last night, the famed nightclub where Madonna gave a doubtfully live performance off her new album last week. The place is big and smoky (actually, EVERYTHING in London is smoky), and if you look around carefully you can see telltale signs of its former life, which I assume was a lavish, Egyptian-themed theatre.

Either the gay boys in London are frightfully skinny or Americans are big fat louts. Or some combination of the two. Or I'm just making sweeping judgments based on one unrepresentative experience. Which NEVER happens.

On the plus side, the gay aesthetic in London isn't the hyper-worked-out, eating-disorder-inducing look that can ruin any given night out in the States. I feel pretty here!

I love the sexual freedom in the London—there are "licensed sex shops" (which I assume are houses of prostitution) in neon-splashed clusters around the neighborhood, and the gay rags feature endlessly clever (and memorably explicit) ads filled with information and warnings about STIs (which I assume are sexually transmittd infections). And—as far as I can tell—there is none of the retardedly panicked sexual repression the religious wrong spreads like self-righteous butter on the croissants of American discourse. (Pardon the forced metaphor—it's almost noon here and I haven't eaten yet. Blogging is THAT important to me.)

I really hate my leather jacket. It's shapeless and only mildly warm. And it bunches up in the most uncomfortable places. I bought it six years ago for a couple hundred bucks, and now I think I'm ready to sink another hundred bucks into a casual-dressy coat that actually fits. And actually keeps me warm.

I've been to London twice—both over Thanksgiving—so my perceptions may be a bit skewed (see: unrepresentative experience above), but to me this place is nothing but cold and overcast. Which makes all the "fully air-conditioned" restaurant-window signs a little alarming. (What does it say about the food if that's the most important marketing angle a restaurant can find?)

Snarky comments aside, we ate our traditional Thanksgiving dinner last night at a Thai place that was quite delicious. And so were the waiters.

On the docket today: Shopping! And finding theatre tickets! And breakfast!

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