London

I love London and if I had the money I would probably live here for part  of the summer but I don’t so that is sort of a fantasy. But there is something about London I have always loved ever since my first visit when I was 16. A long, long time ago.  In those days all the black cabs, which are still called ‘black cabs’ were actually black and carried no advertising.

Now about 35% of so from anecdotal observation seem to have ads all over them or usually they are painted a bright color with the ad as part of it. I’m surprised they haven’t put ads on Buckingham Palace.

Also when I  first came here in 1971 or 1972, theatre ads  in the tube stations were plastered on the walls and now they are in neat little frames. I preferred the sense of immediacy whih came somehow from an ad plastered on the wall.

I find the Tube here much easier to deal with than the Washington Metro. Everything is clearly marked and the DC Metro just isn’t that way. Maybe it will get better.

Curiously, while London Transport, or Transport for London, which is what the name was changed to about 15 years ago, says they have fazed out double decker buses, there are red double-decker buses everywhere.

Apparently, lots of bus service has been contracted out to private firms, presumably so  the government could break the unions and reduce wages, and these private companies use nothing but new, bright-red, double-decker buses. So that iconic symbol of London has come back which I find very pleasing.

English words and expressions, which I am attuned to since my next novel is told from the English point of view, catch my eye and ear a lot. “Alight from the car here for Buckingham Palace” says the announcement on the Underground.

In Boots the Chemist, you don’t get a flu shot, you get a “flu jab.” Prostitutes are politely referreed to in the press and by the police as “sex workers” and unemployed people are “workless.”

Last time I was here, about 8 years ago, they had withdrawn the one pound note from circulation and substitued a coin which is so much easier. Now they have a two pound coin although they never had two pound notes. I wish we would stop printing the one dollar bill and simply use one dollar coins instead.

We have tried that of course but unlike the Brits we did not withdraw the one dollar bill from circulation so the one dollar coin flopped. Presumably someone is making lots of money by keeping the currency as it is since there is no rational reason to do so.

One thing I have noticed every time I have been to the UK is there are almost no vending machines. There aren’t vending machines in the hotel. There aren’t vending machines outside of small stores. There just aren’t any vending machines. They are a convenience we take for granted and you really notice if they are not around.

Cheerio

 

 

 

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/