“This is a silly country.” The words my travelling companion must have heard over a dozen times. Every day we walked the boroughs of London, I’d find yet another clue that this was, truly, a very silly country. England is weird. There’s no getting around it. They’re as weird as their sky is grey. Looking over my visit, it’s hard to decide where to begin, but I suppose there’s no beginning like the beginning, so I’ll start with my voyage from Heathrow. I took the ever so famous Underground, or “Tube”. Technically they call it the “tchube”, because, as I’ve said, they are a silly people. My first laugh, after popping a squat on the surprisingly comfy, cushioned public transport seat, was conjured by the cool female voice that rang through the Tewb:
“This is the Picadilly Line service to Cockfosters.”
I wish I could add the correct inflection, because after hearing that eighteen times in the course of an hour, I have it perfectly memorized. Needless to say, I giggled all the way to the Jubilee connection. The silly names didn’t stop there, heavens no. You know all the famous ones of course: Buckingham (Bucking-’em), Kensington, Hackney, Tottenham (Tot-in-’em), Wimbledon, and Westminster; but have you ever come across Upminster? What about Cricklewood? It helps if you imagine them said in the voice of an old British man. Wembley? Walthanstow? Finchley? Uxbridge? No? Well surely you’re familiar with Southwark? No, not ‘south-wark’; ‘Suthock’! They confiscate phonetics at customs if you have over 100ml. I could go on with the funny names–and I will. Teddington. Twickenham. Berrylands. Long Ditton. Norbiton. Coombe. Cheam. North Cheam. Penge. Orpington. Stoke Newington. Sewardstonebury. Kew. Chigwell. Molesley. And, of course, Tooting. These are just the names visible on the zoomed out view of the map. You can give two millennia of history, beheadings, and conquerings to a place, but as long as you can visit an Orpington, it will always be ridiculous. As I’ve said: England = Silly
This observation does nothing to to lessen the grandeur of the place. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am, indeed, a very silly girl. Just recently I bought a pair of earmuffs and a cloak. This whimsical, pretentious humour is right up my alley. I am enamored with the capricious pretension, and the whole country for that matter. I much prefer the awkward, polite, albeit contemptuous nature of the British to the loud, pushy general public I encountered in Italy (though, in respect to food, Italy isn’t even in the same galaxy).
Even the advertisements are cheeky, hilarious, and molly-coddling.
Look at this PSA:
How sweet is that?
And let’s not forget:
That’s a term I will be using a lot. There’s also this gem that I found on the Czube, and cannot for the life of me figure out what it’s trying to say:
Look at this man:
He is a Royal Guard. He is called a Beefeater and he looks ridiculous.
I found this on the side of the road:
I guess a brunch ended early.
I also came across these little ditties:
As well as these charming personalities that were adhered to public transport:
Well, do you know your puffs and pumps?
In case you’re still not convinced, keep in mind that this is a country with septagonal coins.
That’s a shape you don’t see every day. Unless you’re a silly Brit, in which case yes, you do.
And look at the sheer size that was apparently necessary to allot to their two pence coin. A double A battery is next to it for reference:
That’s a lot of copper for
two whole pence.
My closing argument for the case that England is simply a smattering of oddities, is their manner of speaking. Don’t get me wrong, their vernacular has me well chuffed (which is a good thing, apparently). As I was walking home one night, I overheard a man say, “Barbecue’s the latest pop-craze, i’ntit?”
An old woman on the Chube said, partially to her son, mostly to herself, “Are we getting off here, are we? Alright then.”
A man at the airport told me “you’ll come and ask if you have any questions then, won’t you, love.”
Syntactically speaking it was a question, but it was very clearly not a question. It was an order, and quite possibly a slight to my intelligence, but I can’t be sure. Everything is phrased as a question and it’s all very passive aggressive and I love it.
If it were not for the enormity of the city, I would say I’ve found my home. Really though, London is far too big for me. It’s a sprawling, beautiful mess that requires three separate modes of public transportation, and nothing is close enough to hoof it. The search continues. Maybe Edinburgh. I’ll sign off here, as I need to meet my doctor about getting rid of this chuffing grumble I picked up in the UK. Cheerio!
P.S. I visited the crown jewels. They’re kept in the Tower of London, along with a history of animal cruelty. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the treasures, but lucky for you, google images exists, so have at it. Now, I am not one for glamorous things. Give me fun over fancy. I don’t care much for luxury. However. The crown jewels inspired a covetous greed I didn’t even know I possessed. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but who needs friends when you’ve got a diamond the size of an egg. These are the kinds of rocks you’d use to hurt someone. I’d say that I’d sell my first born for those glittering wonders, but it’s a bit presumptuous to think I could produce anything grander than the Cullinan Diamond. If anyone is interested, I am now accepting applicants for an Oceans 11 type heist.
P.S.S. here are my favorite snapchats from the voyage: