Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Miss List

Before we left London we knew that we'd miss a lot of things about London, but we were also sure that we wouldn't be able to predict everything that we'd miss. I knew I would miss some simple pleasures, particularly foods, but I know that at some point we'll both miss some of the more ethereal aspects of our time in London. Perhaps I'll miss the now reassuring sight of discarded banana peels on the street, the small boy I would see many mornings running through crowds of befuddled pigeons in Altab Ali Park to make them fly away in a panic, or the short trip back in time provided by a walk down Fournier Street that would always bring to mind Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Maybe Maggie will miss the many walks across Tower Bridge, always exciting and beautiful despite the weather, or watching coots nesting along the canal, or the old clock tower permanently frozen at 8:13 that we could see from the living room of our flat.

Yep, still 8:13

We miss all of these things and many more that have yet to come to mind, and I'm sure that once we've settled down a bit more here we'll have more time to reflect, but we've been keeping some initial notes on things we miss, some of the things we definitely don't miss, and some of the surprises we have found on returning to the San Francisco Bay Area. This is a provisional list, and I'm sure we'll have some things to add to these soon, but here's our first stab:

Things We Miss About London:

  • No charges at most cash machines, so no need to hunt down your specific bank
  • Dandelion & Burdock soda
  • Eccles cakes
  • Wapping, our oasis of calm amidst clamor
  • Integrated public transportation (yay Oyster card!)
  • The Underground (BART isn't even close to as cool and useful)
  • History and architecture

    Maggie next to WWII bomb damage to the Victoria & Albert Museum

  • Certain words and phrases: yob, "tick all the boxes", "chalk and cheese", "chocolate teapot", "Aldgate East Gyratory"
  • Constant innuendo, intentional or otherwise

  • Real ale kept at cellar temperature
  • The half pint of beer and the ability for a man to order one without being considered sissy
  • Bosphorus Kebabs (one of the oldest kebab shops in London, and the best spicy kofte kebab ever)

    Simply the best

  • London cabs and cabbies
  • Figuring out how to get from A to B in one of the world's most delightfully confusing cities
  • Tea that just seems to taste better (Do they send the crappy tea to America? Is this some sort of payback for the Boston Tea Party?)
  • Clotted cream, clotted cream, clotted cream
  • Amazing theatre
  • Museums (especially the incredible free ones)
  • Zebra, pelican, and toucan crossings (not really, we just like the names)
  • Fewer commercials on TV
  • Proximity to continental Europe
  • The Bibendum Building

    The Bibendum Building, South Kensington/Chelsea

  • The relative safety of most parts of London
  • Double-decker buses (especially the top front seats)
  • Standing below the Gherkin looking up

    St. Helen's Bishopsgate and the Gherkin

  • Graham Norton's dogs
  • All of the great people we met and befriended over the past 14 months

Things We Don't Miss About London:
  • The weather, needless to say
  • Insanely high cost of living
  • General lack of warmth on the part of the citizenry
  • Pointless mid-door doorknobs


  • Increased risk of electrocution
  • No power outlets in bathrooms
  • The lack of eye contact
  • Mini combined washer-dryers that take forever and wrinkle everything
  • Either ironing t-shirts after they emerge from the washer-dryer or wearing wrinkled clothes all the time

    The hateful wrinkle monster

  • That mysterious jelly layer inside of pork pies
  • Customer service (with a few notable exceptions)
  • Certain words and phrases: bikkie, brekkie, sarnie, buttie, rezzie, bap, gutted, chuffed, buggie, nappie, pram, mummie
  • Celebrity nicknames like Macca, Madge, and C-Zed-J
  • Constant use of "sorry" when no one is actually sorry
  • Most of British TV (except anything involving David Mitchell)
  • All things to do with being a pedestrian in London
  • London water (yum-yum)
  • Air quality
  • Lack of decent peanut butter
  • Mountains of disgusting soggy sandwiches
  • People eating mountains of disgusting soggy sandwiches at all hours of the day
  • Prawn cocktail potato chips (crisps), and all other meaty flavors (Roast beef and horseradish? Really?)
  • Copious public urination and vomiting (sorry, it's ugly but true)

Surprises Upon Returning to California:
  • The clean air and the smell of trees and flowers, as opposed to parks that look nice but still smell like diesel
  • Elderflower products are starting to show up in markets (hooray!)
  • Relearning the geography (how did we forget so much so quickly?)
  • No more talking on cell phones while driving
  • Amazing amount of Journey and Huey Lewis on the radio
  • How few surprises there were upon our return
Overall, we're really glad to be back home in the Bay Area, and we're gorging ourselves on our favorite foods and loving seeing all of our friends and family here. While we had a decidedly love-hate relationship with London, I can tell already that the parts we loved will be more prominent in our memories.


Steve said...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but ordering a half pint in any country makes you a sissy, it's just whether or not they have the cojones to call you out for it.

Hildy said...

Yay! Andy's back!

Still lmfao @ "The hateful wrinkle monster"

Doug said...

hahaha, great list! I was unaware that you could pee/puke freely in london. and you put that in the 'won't miss' list? You should have taken full advantage of that.

"Amazing amount of Journey and Huey Lewis on the radio"
that one really got me. so true.

Let's do burritos sometime soon. You know i have nothing better to do, let me know what day/time works for you both.