Well, worse has come to worst. No, my plane didn't crash, and no, I wasn't arrested for making terrorist threats against the fat bloke who kept belching and farting a couple seats over, but I did arrive at my home for the next week to find that I was without internet access. Hence, no blog yesterday, and those that do appear in the coming days may have to be truncated and picture-less unless this problem can be rectified.
What's particularly galling is that the whole house has excellent wireless access; it's just that nobody seems to be able to remember what the password is. Either that, or they do know and are trying to do the internet a service by keeping me off it. Speaking of the house, it's rather magnificent, a Grade Two listed, four-storey duplex from the 1870s, with 15-foot high cathedral ceilings and all sorts of original features.
Unfortunately, it's also rather cold, owing to a characteristic bit of idiocy on the part of the government: because it's a listed house, it can't have insulated or double-glazed windows, so you can feel the oceans of cold air flooding in or the currents of warm air ebbing out to destroy the ionosphere, whichever way you prefer to look at it. Compounding the idiocy: a previous owner had (illegally) installed insulated windows, but a neighbour complained and the local council forced the new owner to remove them at a cost of thousands of pounds and replace them with old-fashioned wooden windows that approximately double his annual heating costs and carbon emissions. Kind of cancels out making him pay the £8 congestion charge for driving into Central London, don't you think?
I was one of only a handful of Americans on the flight coming over. In the past it's usually been the opposite: a plane full of Americans talking loudly about what tourists sights they're going to see and a handful of Brits looking sheepish and out of place. But apparently the sky-high pound has Yanks staying away in droves. Pretty much everyone on the plane filed into the UK/European Union customs queue while I had the "Other Passports" queue and 8 customs agents all to myself. Literally. I was a "line" of one.
London doesn't look too bad for this time of year, and the weather is certainly an improvement over New York. Overcast and grey, yes, but when isn't that true? Still, we had bright sunshine for a while when I arrived, and the temperature has mostly been in the 50s F/teens C. All over Soho, people are still sitting out at sidewalk tables in front of cafes and bars, something New Yorkers have ahd to give up several weeks ago. Also seen clustering outside said cafes and bars: smokers, who at long last have been banished to the proper place, i.e., befouling someone else's air. What a great improvement, but then we've known about that in California and New York for years already.
Ooops, time's up here at the internet cafe, so I'll have to get back to you with the rest of my exciting news at a later date. Bye for now!
P.S. It's now several hours later and the £^%*~@$% internet cafe browser shut down on me before I could post this because my credit had run out. And I had to be somewhere else almost immediately, so I had no choice but to come back and pay an extra 60p just so I could post my latest blatherings. I hope somebody out there appreciates it.
P.P.S. Also, I don't want to hear any complaints about British spelling being used herein. It's long-standing policy of this blog, decreed by the Head Blogger himself (that would be me) that I use whatever spelling is local to the place I'm in when I post here. Unless it's like, you know, Polish or something.
P.P.P.S. I'm just off Oxford Street at the moment, and the Christmas lights and decorations here are kind of rubbish compared with those in New York. Especialy disappointing are those in Regent Street, which usually has a much better display than tacky old Oxford Street. Not this year, though; Regent Street is adorned with some bizarre objects that I suspect are meant to be stylised snowflakes, but more closely resemble inflatable renditions of Our Friend Mr. Atom that you might see in a primary school science class.
At least on Carnaby Street they're a little creative. You know those looped chains of construction paper that you used to make (also in primary school) and drape on the Christmas tree (they probably have a name, but I can't think of it now)? Well, on Carnaby Street, they've got giant plastic versions dangling from building to building. If they light up (don't know if they do yet, as I saw them in the daytime), they might look pretty great. But still, New York does it better. London seems to turn its decorations over to a committee of dizzy queens who don't believe in God or Christmas and see the deal as more of an audition for St. Martin's College. Enough bitching, time's up again.