There will always be an England, I'm told, but as there's no specific on London per se, I often worry it might go missing. If you share my anxiety on this issue, you'll be pleased to hear it's still where you last saw it. I checked.
In principle, it only takes ten-and-a-half hours to fly to London from Los Angeles. Of course, you need to get to LAX two hours before departure; and, if you take a shuttle to the airport, as I did this time, that's another two hours. Then there's another two-and a half hours to get through the process at Heathrow and to your hotel...So what's that? Seventeen hours?
Thus, I just spent 34 hours in round-trip transit to spend 42 hours in London. If I'd been a bit quicker, I could have spent an equal number of hours on the plane and at the destination. Ain't modern life wonderful?
Given that those 42 hours were partly devoted to work and partly devoted to sleeping, I didn't end up with much time--though I did manage to wander to a couple of bookstores, where I verified that Shock and Awe was indeed on a shelf in a Borders (but only one copy; I can't figure out if that's good news or bad). I picked up Gallows Lane, Sleepwalker's Introduction to Flight, and, finally, Charles Lambert's Little Monsters. I also visited a bookstore called Daunt's, which seemed like a nice place despite its overbearing name, but would have seemed even nicer if it had carried my book. (They had Light Reading, so the store gets some points for that. But only two out of a possible ten.)
I first visited London in 1980 or so. It was an expensive town back then. It's an even more expensive town today. I am delighted to report that London has now reached the long-expected pound proportional purchasing parity point (PPPPP). That legendary point is reached when what costs one dollar in the US costs one pound in London. This makes the prices all look quite familiar except for that squiggly "L" in front (until you realize that the actual cost is twice as much).
Well, not everything costs twice as much. Some things cost much more. For example, the house I live in would cost approximately forty-eight billion dollars in central London (even though our place is closer to the beach). I asked my colleagues--mere oil-company executives, every one--how they managed to survive there. The answer? They all live way the hell out of town.
(Who is it that lives in London proper these days, anyway? Unlike the case in Venice, there seem to be people around London who aren't tourists or people working in the tourist industry. Are all the apparent residents paid actors?)
Anyhow, London remains one of the best walking-around towns on the planet. And if you folks Over There enjoyed the lovely weather last Thursday and Friday, you have me to thank, because for once I remembered to bring an umbrella. I had a vast pile to choose from, most of them purchased in extremis on previous visits.
I'll write something sensible in a day or two. My body is back in Surf City, but my brain is still somewhere over Newfoundland. Or maybe Labrador. Woof.