I’ve just got back from a couple of weeks in London. While I was there, I binged on Britain – I drank in every pub, ate in every tea room, lined up in every job centre.
It was my first trip back, and I was surprised by the things I’d missed. Here they are.
Londoners are ridiculously polite. Walking down Carnaby Street I overheard a posh bloke initiate a big night out with the rallying cry: “Shall we go and get smashed?”. And then, near Old Compton Street, I came across this sign. Only in London.
Dairylea, Pieminister, KP… so many things I’d not thought about until I came face to face with them.
Every time I came across a brand I’d forgotten about, I found myself smiling outwardly, gazing wistfully at it. Which was all well and good, until a guy next to me clocked me doing it in the urinal.
London has some beautiful green spaces. Some of which are so fancy, the Queen designates them royal parks. Which means you have to curtsy before you take a leak behind a tree.
But the best thing about London parks? Having your kids stumble across a “treasure bag”, like the one below. Ava told me it had magic fairy dust in it. Smart kid.
In London the saying goes that you’re never more than a metre from a celebrity. Or maybe it’s a rat. Either way, while we were in town Alex saw Damon Albarn, and I held the door open for Richard Bacon. He of “fired from kids TV for taking cocaine”-fame. A moment for my memoirs, no doubt.
5. Shops from the seventies.
Like this one, where nothing has changed since it opened. Same decor, same staff, probably the same produce too.
6. The British sense of humour.
There is nothing quite like British banter. The British public was asked to name a £200million polar research ship. With over 120,000 votes and counting, the runaway suggestion is Boaty McBoatface.
Other worthy entries were Usain Boat and What Iceberg?
You couldn’t make this shit up.
7. Goggle Box.
If you’ve never seen it before, just know that it’s the best TV programme on the planet. A bunch of Brits sitting around watching TV in their homes. While I was back, I caught an episode of them watching a show about Heston Blumenthal making a bacon sandwich for Tim Peake to eat in outer space. Enough said.
8. Baked Beans.
In the US, Heinz Baked Beans are a commodity. Gangs of expats work the airports to shake down visitors who bring out cans in their suitcases. And just head to the Embassy in San Fran, to find strung out Brits waving toast wildly, shouting “I need my fix maaaan“.
No such problems in the UK though, where there’s such an abundance of Baked Beans, there are plans to cull them along with the badger population.
In the US I ration the beans. While I was in London, I made it rain.
9. English hopes.
When I was back, the England football team played two friendly games, as a warm-up to this summer’s European Championships. In the first game, we were playing our arch rivals and World Champions Germany, on their turf. Two nil down with 30 minutes to go, England produced a stirring fightback to win the game 3-2.
The media went crazy.
It was a new golden era for English football. A team of fearless lions poised to take the world by storm. Nailed-on favourites to win the Euros this summer. Probably going to win the next 3 World Cups. And looking good to make it to the boot camp stages on X Factor too.
The nation expected. We dared to dream. It was our year for sure!
The next day we played Holland at Wembley and got beaten.
Nothing is more British than the sound of football hopes crushing up and down the country.
The drought in California has pushed up water prices, so every time I turn the tap on I picture dollar bills gushing out. But there aint no shortage in London, so I went to town with my water usage. In fact, I didn’t think about the water bill once I was there. Mind you, I was staying at my parents’, so I bet they did.
Alex told me to be careful when I took this photo. Maybe because she feared a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in a knock-off Burberry cap would attack me from a passing Ford Fiesta. Or maybe because she has a tracksuit just like theirs.
Side note: I would love to see a fight between a chav and American trailer trash. It would be like that Shark vs Crocodile movie, only with less teeth and more gold chains.
12. The Grand National.
I was lucky enough to be back for the Grand National. The one day of the year when my family takes an interest in horse racing. The other 364 days of the year, we give zero fucks.
My Dad pretends to know something about odds, but the rest of us pick the horse on two crucial factors – its name, and the color of the jockey’s outfit. This year my money was on Shutthefrontdoor. I’ve been back a week now, and I think it’s still out there running.
Different strands of crazy, thrown together by DNA and the good people at Jdate.
What I don’t miss.
There were only a few things I realized I’m happy to leave behind.
– The Daily Mail
– People wearing backpacks in rush hour on the tube
– Gok Wan
Brits, if you have any more to add to this list, feel free to send them my way.