May 28, 2016
Well, it’s Day 5 and I think I am getting the hand of being in this city, and it is finally starting to sink in that I get to live here for an entire month!
Today was a free day and slept a luxurious sleep until 10:30 this morning. I got up, prepared myself for the day and went down to Gregg, a ready-made cafe near Russell Square, for lunch. While eating, I finally got the chance to sit down and think about some of the differences between America and London:
- Napkins, spoons, coffee coozies and the like are not just laying around for anyone to take willy-nilly. You gotta ask for that stuff. But there are no taxes on food, unless you are dining in, then you have to pay an extra tax. Because sitting at tables and chairs for free is unheard of.
- Lattes aren’t as sweet.
- Tipping is confusing. You don’t tip the 20% that we do in America, but some restaurants will add an automatic 12% to your bill.
- “Rubbish” is often seen out on the front sidewalks of coffeeshops and fast food places.
- Not a lot of buildings have air conditioning, but I don’t really miss it. Most restaurants just leave their doors open to let in the breeze. I like this, it also makes me feel like I still get to interact with what’s going on outside.
- Even though they drive on the left side of the street, everyone still walks on the right side of the sidewalk.
- Cars stop very close to the traffic lights because they are at eye level rather than overhead. I like that the lights don’t obstruct the view of the sky or surrounding buildings.
- You can hail buses like taxis.
- The green light on stop lights is typically a forward-pointing arrow.
- Colors seem to be kind of opposite here. For example, exit signs in buildings are green, but an electrical outlet is on if its switch is on the red side. But traffic lights are still normal colors.
- If the light is red, it will turn yellow before it turns green.
After this I spent a full two hours in the London Review Bookshop browsing. It was nice to be able to take my time and spot some of the differences between British and American cover art. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at Sainsbury Local to grab some snacks to have in my room for after shows. I had a few hours to read at my hotel before my show, and also took a short nap.
I took the tube down to Piccadilly Circus for dinner and the show de jour, How the Other Half Loves. I think I’m becoming a bit of a real Londoner because I’m starting to navigate my way around the stations just as fast as everyone else. I had dinner of delicious gorgonzola gnocchi and side salad at an Italian restaurant right across the street from the theater. I’m always happy to see gnocchi on the menu because currently there are only two restaurants in all of Dallas that serve it. Two.
How the Other Half Lives was a British comedy set in the 50’s. It reminded me very much of Hay Fever by Noel Coward, which the University of Arkansas produced in the fall. Three couples are involved in love triangles and try to untangle the confusion as new facts come to light. The set was very interesting, portraying two households at once, one intercepting the other. I thought it was hilarious and artfully done.
Now I’m back at the hotel preparing for bed. Tomorrow we will be visiting Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery. What fun that will be! Happy Saturday!