A run down to London

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England! Merrie olde England! Glorious England!

How I hate it.

I’ve been in London for the past month, officially as part of a study abroad program. I spent most of my first week figuring out how to leave Heathrow.

When traveling, the usual questions come up. How’s public transport? What’s the currency exchange rate? Will I get average food poisoning here, or will it be something really special?

I’ve started to make sense of the Tube and paying for everything by card. But even if I spent years here, I still wouldn’t understand why Londoners eat jellied eels.

As my study abroad advisors put it, this is a valuable multicultural experience where we’ll hear multicultural music and play multicultural games and curse multicultural curses, or something.

The one thing that’s stood out to me so far is how small my room is. My shower is the size of a telephone booth, only it’s less comfortable.

All in all, I’d rather be in… well, Philadelphia’s not much better than here. But I could go for St. Petersburg, if it’s the one in Florida.

But I can’t be in St. Petersburg, basking in the multicultural sunshine. I have to stay in London, choking on fish and chips and swallowing the letter r. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Sure, there have been some nice bits to the trip. I saw a trolley stuck in the wall at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

Well, not precisely. All I saw was a massive crowd of people in front of it. At least the same thing didn’t happen at Big Ben… rather, the Elizabeth Tower.

Big Ben is the bell, not the building. And any Englishman who corrects you on that is a real pain in the neck.

I ought to thank Parliament for dispersing the tourists. If you set up a massive bell and clang it loudly every hour, you’re sure to keep the streets clear.

Somebody should tell our president to set up a similar traffic-clearing mechanism in our capital. Only instead of a bell, I recommend something more American, like a klaxon.

A place that didn’t have too many tourists was the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I don’t have to tell you where it is if you’ve read the books.

If you haven’t read the books, put on your deerstalker and sleuth it out. Holmes wouldn’t have used Google Maps, anyway.

It’s a shame we Americans don’t have as many icons in our pantheon of fictional characters.

London is where Holmes would have walked. It’s where one might have bought a flower from Eliza Doolittle.

It’s also the home of that best and greatest of fictional characters, the one who needs no words to make himself known, the man who defines England itself: I refer, of course, to Mr. Bean.

With or without Mr. Bean, London’s not the only place worth seeing in England.

I took a neat tour of Stonehenge and Bath, courtesy of The English Bus. My guide’s name was Andy. He was in a James Bond film.

That is, he was driving his bus, and the bus made it into the picture. By the transitive property, he’s practically Daniel Craig.

Andy pointed out the MI6 building as we were driving out of London. “It’s been blown up a couple times in the movies,” he noted, “but they’ve patched it up good since then.”

It was a great tour. Andy also took our group to a secret location along the way. I can’t tell you where it is because if I did, MI6 would hunt me down.

That’s a multicultural experience I could do without.

Copyright 2024 Alexandra Paskhaver, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Alexandra Paskhaver is a software engineer and writer. Both jobs require knowing where to stick semicolons, but she’s never quite; figured; it; out. For more information, check out her website at https://apaskhaver.github.io.

Alexandra Paskhaver is a software engineer and writer. Both jobs require knowing where to stick semicolons, but she’s never quite; figured; it; out. For more information, check out her website at https://apaskhaver.github.io.