The Other End of Sunset

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More traveling fun

Well, fearless reader, I spent the last week in London, and am now in Dublin.

In my past experience, London was (almost) always gray, and cold, and smelled vaguely like urine and spoiled fish. The weather whilst in London was great. Sunny, warm, beautiful. In fact, I (almost) enjoyed myself. So, to all the people who, over the years, have had to listen to me blather about how much I hate London... well, I take (some of) it back. Not all, mind you, but some.

It still always strikes me there that nobody -- like, really, nobody -- ever talks to me at all. In a bar, at a stop light, nowhere. I always feel remarkably hated in London. I'm kind of a nice person, really, fairly charming.

OK, back to my story...

I stayed at the Savoy in London. Really beautiful building, lovely entrance, scary as hell elevators.

I was a few floors up. Several times whilst on the elevator, it would hit something, lurch to an angle, and continue on its way, making some awful screeching sound. Hmm. I don't think that is supposed to happen. But maybe it is -- it certainly added color to the end of an evening, which is probably good...

The beds in the Savoy were as hard as in Beijing. What, is this some sort of odd international conspiracy? Some weird hanger-on from the Wobblies attempting to overthrow the bourgeois ruling class by robbing them of any ability to sleep? "Hey, John, we'll put beds-of-steel in each room, they will be so tired they will make dumb decisions! Maybe they will destabilize whole regions of energy producing states!"

(Hmm, that sounds too close to reality...)

At any rate, it's not easy to sleep on a horizontal door. Try it sometime. Leaving aside that annoying pattern that gets pressed into your skin -- you know, that ridge on the side of the door frame -- it's just not so easy to relax when you are hanging, Torquemada-style.

In the office, the elevator talks to you. Not just talks, it *condescends* to you. "Floor 1, door opening," it says in a detached female voice. But then, it waits a while, just to make sure you were paying attention, before the door opens. Like, as in, if you'd just bloody listen more closely, I wouldn't have to do this waiting thing! Or if you ever brought me roses, you effing cad.

I have always liked the Dumb-American street signs in London. When you come to a corner, there will be words painted on the road saying "look right" (or "look left") -- basically, pointing us towards the traffic. I guess they were losing too many tourists, who walked up to the road, and looked to the LEFT for oncoming traffic, and were crushed like a bug by traffic coming from the RIGHT. (Oddly enough, they don't drive on our side of the road there. Thanks to some cosmic conservation of momentum or so, that means the traffic comes at you from the other direction. Wild. Anyway.) A few years ago, just in case the phrase wasn't clear enough, they added an arrow, that points in the direction that you should look. So, now the DumbAmericans (note, no space, I'm attempting to form a new noun here) need not read, they need only turn their heads like lemmings towards a cliff in the direction of the arrow. That is way easier, as any lemming will tell you.

The problem? No problem -- except that a few corners have been marked by clever taggers. I passed several corners where there were arrows pointing BOTH directions. Heh. And one where the arrow had been scraped off, and replaced with a (forged) arrow pointing the wrong direction. Double Heh. I wonder if there's a journal I can read that has injury statistics in London, from traffic accidents, by corner. It'd be interesting to see if the arrows, and the arrow tags, have any effect on the longevity of DumbAmericans.