London will be a short train ride away. I’m geographically challenged, but England seems incredibly small. I’m leaning toward London, but I’ll tell you what I told my wife and my friend: “What am I going to do in London for 2 or 3 days by myself other than track down cool record stores and see Abbey Road? Aside from Abbey Road, I might as well spend a couple of days in New York?”
I don’t know, the fact that the English speak English makes the country seem less exotic to me. I like trying to speak Italian, French, and Hungarian, when I’m in Italy, France, or Hungary, respectively. I am already fluent in English. What I’m I going to do, try to trip natives up by asking where I can find an elevator?
I love to eat, and I always love to seek out native fare in whatever city I visit. Don’t the English have about the worst reputation for food? I consider food a major part of my cultural explorations. I know, they supposedly have great Indian food, but that won’t qualify as “great English food.” I guess I can have a laugh eating bangers and mash and other forms of meat and potatoes, but the thought of treating myself to one of those massive, greasy English breakfasts and then belching and farting the rest of the day is not my cup of tea. (And don’t get this coffee drinker started on the lack of excitement over the notion of “high tea.”) I’m aware I’m exposing myself as a stone-cold idiot for sharing these thoughts, but I seek your advice.
Honestly, there’s so much about English culture that I’ve always loved—the bands, The Avengers, The Prisoner, the swinging fashions from just about any century, the novelists—and wanted to experience firsthand, but finally given the chance to go there, alone, I’m not sure how I’m going to fill my time other than do the things I’d do if dropped into the Lower East Side of Manhatten for a couple of days. As I told my wife and friend, “I have no interest in seeing any of that Queen shit!” I hope to walk near the Towers of London and Big Ben and whatnot, but I doubt I’ll feel like standing in line to see anything that honors the monarchy.
I have no interest in pubs. Just because they’re called “pubs” rather than “bars” doesn’t make them any better, as Americans seem to suggest when they linger over the word “pubs,” does it? Beside, I don’t drink! Is a tonic water with lime in a pub any better than a tonic water with lime in as United States bar?
Is there a killer museum I must see in London, not one centered around centuries of “Queen shit” (not the band Queen either)?
Most likely, I’m going to start by investigating the following activities:
- Must-visit record stores
- Must-visit book stores
- Visits to some iconic spots I might know of from album covers, movies, etc (eg, the pub on the cover of Muswell Hillbillies)
- Cool hang-out spot, where I can hang out and imagine what it’s like to be cool in London
- A personal meeting with Happiness Stan, that wonderful old Townsman who used to write amazing tales of his days attending legendary rock festivals with a parade of marvelous women.
What am I missing? I apologize in advance for this shocking display of ignorance. I know you’ve come to expect more of me in my travels, but I’m a little stumped by the prospect of this UK trip. I wish I had more time, so I wouldn’t feel so pressured. Please help me on my musical journey.