As well as going to a conference in London, I got to enjoy it for the first time.

Since I was at least a young teenager I’ve wanted to visit London. Since I was obsessed with the Smiths and New Order, (before that there was that fascination with the Beatles), had old NME covers all over my walls and couldn’t see that anything in Australia would ever match up to England. Then came football, The Bill, Britpop, Phillip Larkin, George Orwell, Pet Shop Boys, The Spice Girls…hang on, I think I said that last bit out loud…

Some things I noticed:

– The buses ARE red

London buses

– The cabs ARE like they look on telly

– The police are hard to take seriously if you’ve watched a great deal of The Bill

– I found the street signs endlessly fascinating due to the familiar typography seen on a billion telly shows

London typography

– Smoking is still ok and I found it quite jolting

– Those pub names you see on telly are real, names like Holborn Whippet (which seems to be pronounced “Hoburn”. I avoided saying any place names unless I heard the English say it).

– Is it Australian to think the name ‘Cockfosters’ is hilarious?  Or just juvenile? The train I caught from the airport was going to Cockfosters and they kept repeating it at every stop. Perhaps I was just delirious after the flight.

– There are a lot of cyclists but mercifully few hipsters on fixies. Perhaps they’ve moved on. Bike lanes are very common and seem to be used.

– ‘Good’ coffee is expensive. 2 pounds 50 for a takeaway from a place that was supposed to be ‘it’. Seemed ok until I did the conversion. And the coffee was ordinary.

– You would never need a car if you lived here

London bus stop

– The weather is warm but the light never gets bright. It seems hazy a lot of the time, reminds me of Vietnam but not that thick. I can see why the English lay on Bondi beach for hours and then wonder why they burn. (Kind of like the way Australians underestimate the power of the overcast day in Vietnam…) The sun has no bite, which might be why…

– People don’t wear sunglasses

– I loved it as much as I imagined I would when I was 14 years old.

London Chinatown

London wedding


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