London: the Diverse City

I (Matt) am sure the other guys have described in graphic detail our travels around London. It was a wonderful city, there were so many things to see. I enjoyed many of those things. I also enjoyed exploring a major city where I understood the language. Thursday afternoon, after watching a few minutes of Parliament in session at Westminster Hall with Ziegler, I struck out on my own to people-watch. By-the-way, their government looks appeared much more comfortable, lounging in well-cushioned benches and heartily laughing with each other. We visited many significant sites Wednesday and Friday (see the guys’ posts), so I decided to watch London’s inhabitants until our designated return time at 7 that evening.
I found the nearest Underground station and boarded the first subway I saw. I repeated this every second station. Upon exiting the subway train, I would start toward the exit until I saw or heard a subway enter the station. I watched the other passengers all the while. We had discussed this as a group but cities appeal to me more than to the other three. Admittedly, I would probably tire of them after living in a city for long, but cities’ huge variety of everything fascinate me. This diversity includes people; I saw some characters in London. One was a single Indian mother, haggard from trying to contain a young, rambunctious boy who asked me about my camera. Another was an old man frazzled and tired, clutching a bottle of beer like it was a life preserver. Others included a well-dressed black man playing a game on his iPod Touch, a woman in a mini skirt and fishnet who probably was attractive fifteen years ago, and an old Asian woman clutching shopping bags. A dozen stations later, I left the Tube’s microcosm of diversity at the Oxford Circus Station to find the fabled Apple Store. It was so pretty; so many pretty things. Naturally, I checked Facebook, drooled over some new laptops, and researched other London attractions. (In that order.)
I followed more interesting people to the Underground and then the London Bridge Station. My walk to the Design Museum was slow; I had to stop to take many pictures. The Museum itself was a waste of money because I spent more time in the gift shop than in the two exhibits. One such exhibit contained the work of some deranged fashion designer. Aren’t they all? We’re talking dresses with lasers and motorized necklines. Nevertheless, I contentedly sat in a corner of the gift shop and read design books for almost an hour. More diversity. I read some really interesting stuff (with lots of even more interesting pictures). I got back on the subway and explored the city around a few more stations before finding a barber that I deemed trustworthy.
Back in the States I had asked my regular barber (she’s really quite good; I love her, in fact) for a haircut before leaving but had run out of time in the last few weeks. Surprisingly, after sleeping in the backseat of the car only once, I determined backpacking with longer hair would not help my already-weak case for sanity. I entered the barbershop with full intentions of leaving with a fauxhawk, a shorter haircut with the length tapered to a peak down the middle. It was not to be. The barber and I agreed my hair is too straight for such a style without generous helpings of Crisco. It opted out; I refuse to gel my hair. Instead I let the man give me a short version of my normal style. I use the term “man” loosely. He wore some of the tightest black jeans I have ever had the misfortune to see, a cap-sleeve, v-neck t-shirt, and an outrageous belt buckle. The way he played with my hair made me uncomfortable.
Upon leaving the shop, my lighter head realized I had fifteen minutes to cross the city. I hadn’t bought a watch yet. Like a true, adventuring man, I disembarked at the subway station nearest Erlis and Gesine’s home and strove off in the direction that seemed most correct. 45 minutes later I found their home. Along the way, I spoke with a schoolboy on a bicycle, a friendly Indian man visiting his daughter, and three, helpful customers at a corner Kabob restaurant. All very diverse and very interesting. Oh, and we also saw famous stuff, too. I’m sure the others related all that.

2 Responses to “London: the Diverse City”

  1. Allyson Randall says:

    People watching — I always talk of it but never do it (except when I’m bored waiting for a philharmonic to begin). On buses you can see more of the city, but it takes longer and you get sick from the ride. Also, they are more confusing to figure out. The only time I properly used one was when I had to go to St. Mary’s. Did you notice how Obama is everywhere?

  2. Allyson Randall says:

    Oh, and did you happen to notice that the fire hydrants are underground too? It occurred to me after three months that I hadn’t seen a fire hydrant. I was in Liverpool when the thought occurred, and I immediately began searching for one. I happened to glance down and there it was on the ground–a metal hatch marked “Hydrant.”

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