I'm in an internet cafe in London. This is the much-anticipated 2-week museum and theatre(!) tour, but it got off to a strange start, and I was forced to be much more adventurous than I really had in mind.
I don't know if I explained way back when I first mentioned it that I'm tagging along on a trip that was advertised at the University of Nevada at Reno, and which my metriculating sister instantly loved and talked my mom into. Two weeks in London, seeing many plays (including two Shakespeares and one Andrew Lloyd Weber) and museums (including the Tate and the British Museum). Since I was coming from Kansas City instead of Reno, I was the odd man out, but we made plans to link up once we got to the Queen's country.
As it turned out, I'm here and all of them are still there. Their flight was cancelled, for reasons still unclear, and they won't be here till Tuesday morning.
Now, I wasn't thinking of being intrepid. I was sort of looking forward to being on a packaged tour where I don't have to think. But of course, there was nothing for it. I found the one working ATM out of a bank of duds (hint: look for the long line), and I figured out how to take the tube (that's 'subway' to you colonials) to Paddington Station, which I expected to have a bear in galoshes on the sign. No such luck.
At Paddington Station, things took a decided uptick. I spied a confectionery (Grace's brain: "confectionery" from the root "confectioner" as in powdered sugar = shoppe dispensing sweets) and nearby a stand selling pasties ("pasties" does NOT probably mean the wardrobe of a stripper, but meat and potatoes in a pastry envelope). At that point, being in London all by myself just seemed kind of wonderful, as I sat out at a table watching the trains come and go. Americans have many great qualities, but I don't know how we can consider ourselves a civilized people as long as we don't get chocolate and meat pies right. Chocolate should be milky. Meat pies should be ... well, it's hard to describe exactly. The meat isn't what you would call grade A prime. When they call it steak they're either being whimsical or intentionally misleading. It's sort of like a pot roast that you put a lot of stuff in and serve up very hot so no one can quite tell how old it is. But that's part of its charm really. This was so hot that when I blew on it, it steamed up my glasses. I opted to share tidbits of the crust with a solitary pigeon that was tut-tutting about.
For all I know I was marked as a tourist for all of those actions. For all I know the locals were making the secret hand signal of tourist-disgust for my gaucherie in sitting at the table (the others were unoccupied) or eating the pasty the wrong end up. Maybe the pigeon is right now telling the other pigeons in a clipped David Niven accent that a horrid twit of a girl fed him on the platform against all convention and propriety.
But that's probably why I had to do that part by myself. I assume everyone will know I'm a tourist.The English can spot an American a mile off in the dead of night with one eye closed. When the group gets here tomorrow, the group leader -- who is a frequent traveller -- will try to keep us from standing out. When I come back to the British Isles in May, my husband will give be horrified if he thinks I'm giving away our terrible secret.
But what the heck. I'm American, and they know I'm American, and the meat pasty was really good.
Well, time to log off and try to pretend that I understand how the money works.