Saturday, June 16, 2007

Two Things You Must Do in London

London. Up until my recent trip in support of Lucia Iman's Sellaband concert, all that I knew about London was the frantic rush between terminals at Heathrow airport. I have many friends in and from London, but oddly enough, I have never had reason to leave the airport. My recent experiences in the erstwhile capitol of the English-speaking world can be distilled down to two bits of 100 proof advice.

Look right!

Take money...with you I mean...and lots of it.

After taking the Tube to the Earl's Court station, we were left with a short walk to our accommodations. The weather was wonderfully mild and after the eleven hour flight, a short walk was just what the doctor ordered. A short, pleasant walk...which very nearly became a walk straight into the jaws of an ignoble death at the hands of the bane of the foreign pedestrian, the widely feared BLACK CAB!

As I stepped onto the pavement to cross the street, I read the words, "Look Right" painted on the asphalt under my feet. Naturally, I obeyed my instincts, looked LEFT and walked on confidently. If the cab had been painted with one more coat, I would be writing this from the grave. They drive on the wrong side of the street over there! All of them...and fast. And no matter how many times I saw, "Look Right" painted in big white letters on the pavement, I always looked left, and I was always nearly in danger of becoming a hood ornament.

Clearly, If I was to see London before being killed, I would have to join the traffic flow. We decided that we would ride inside one of the famous London Black Cabs. One thing I can say for London, You don't wait long for a cab. The city streets are rife with the bastards. They are like big, shiny water bugs crawling over every paved inch of the town. No, you don't wait long for a's after you get inside that the waiting begins.

You see, the streets are so crowded with cabs, that you really can't get to where you are going any faster than if you had walked. I looked out of the taxi and a Fruit stand caught my eye. And before we had driven the length of the block, I thought that I saw the shopkeeper grow old and gray. His son took over the business and he in turn took on the appearance of of an old, bent man, worn out by years of carrying bushels of fruit to and from the sidewalk from his store. Alright, okay, I may have stretched the truth a bit, but I swear that the grapes had turned to raisins before we rounded the corner.

An hour's ride inside a London cab will get you about the same distance as a good 30 minute walk. And this is where my second bit of advice comes in. Wait, just wait til you realize that while you were chatting, while the sights of London were looking back at you through the cab window, while the world outside was going about its business...the meter was running. No, the meter was sprinting. The rocket propelled vehicles attempting to set speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats are land tortoises in comparison to a London cab meter. I've never seen anything move that fast without igniting.If you want to stay alive...if you want to ride in a cab, bring money. Lots of it.

After our cab ride, I was somewhat confused. Whenever we walked and came anywhere near an intersection, there seemed to be hundreds of cabs speeding past waiting for the slowest of the herd to look the wrong way. But the instant we flagged down and entered a cab, even my metabolism seemed to come to a screeching halt.

I tried to get a look into a number of cabs that almost got me as I put my foot into the street as if testing the pool temperature. But they always flew by too fast for me to see if anyone was inside. I really wish I could have had just one ride in one of those speeding cabs. But I think they only have those to run people over with.

So...That's London in a nutshell. Two things to remember. Look Right...and bring lots of money.

On the serious side, Please check out the new links in the sidebar. Check out Sellaband and become a part of a great new way to support new music.

1 comment:

Utterly B Groovy said...

LOL: As a Londoner who's travelled a bit I've sort of got the habit of looking both ways every time, as we have a lot of one-way streets that can catch out the unwary - one of my friends spent an enjoyable few seconds as a hood-ornament in Paris from looking the wrong way!
He's right about money though, London just got to 2nd in the list of expensive places to live!