11 May 2011

London Tangents

So, London. This is going to be a difficult post to put out because after writing the rough draft in my head right before I fell asleep on Sunday night I knew that the potential for me going off on random tangents was extremely high. If my Sunday Night Pre-Dreamtime Rough Draft Post is anything to go on, I’ve got enough material in this entry for a novel albeit a pretty piss poor one. I decided to give those with very short patience for tangents and those who are looking to kill 30 seconds before that budget meeting and therefore are just skimming anyway, a recap. I was tempted to do the recap in outline style, with the fancy Roman numerals and proper tabs and all that shit, but I can’t be assed to find out how to do that in HTML right now. I’ve got to order my Indian take away for fuck’s sake; I just don’t have the extra time.

RECAP FOR THOSE THAT CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO READ MY ENTIRE DISSERTATION OF BRILLIANCE: We went to London. Henry became a US Citizen. We ate food and drank beer. Hotel room was small. Saw Tiger Finger Square, London Eye, and Big Ben. We walked a lot. The End. Enjoy your meeting and don’t let them catch you doodling the financial report in bubble letters.

Because this is an expat blog I feel it’s my duty to describe to you the 10 step process on how to make a UK child a US citizen. This is under the assumption that you have a child that has a right to become a US citizen and not some ankle biter you picked up in the discount bin at Tesco’s.

STEP ONE: Have a baby

STEP TWO: Go to this website, make an appointment, and feel smug that you have all the paperwork needed.

STEP THREE: Go to THIS website and agonize for days that you did something wrong and that your child will never get to see the amber waves of grain and buffalo roaming.

STEP FOUR: If you live impossibly far away from London, book a hotel with an American hotel chain for the night before your appointment smugly think to yourself that an American chain in London will have the spacious rooms and king sized beds that you are so accustomed – perhaps they will have pancakes with real maple syrup for breakfast.

STEP FIVE: Travel to London via train with your baby. Make sure your baby needs both a change and feed during the train journey and that you booked yourself in the quiet car thinking that you wouldn’t want to disturb your baby with football supporters. Laugh that night at your ignorance. It’s also important that part of your train journey involves the London Underground (aka: the Tube) and that you are carrying a large travel stroller and two wheelie suitcases. Marvel how any UNDERGROUND transportation in the modern world would fail to provide FUCKING ELEVATORS. Almost kill your baby (not intentionally) on 90 degree escalators. Whimper at the bottom of 3 flights of stairs hoping that one of London’s finest will help you lift the stroller while a hoard of London’s non-finest waits impatiently behind you wondering why you brought a fucking stroller on the Tube.

STEP SIX: Book into your Best Western hotel and realize that room is not American size wonderfulness but typical London shoe box. Have them bring up a cot that fills up the only remaining floor space available after two suitcases and one travel stroller is present. Cry a little when your baby refuses to sleep in said cot.

STEP SEVEN: Wake up 3 hours before your appointment at the US Embassy. “Wake up” is a funny phrase as you will have “been up” for the last 4 hours. In fact, you probably never went to sleep as your baby doesn’t like the cot and you are terrified of falling asleep when your baby is sleeping next to you in the bed.

STEP EIGHT: Go to the US Embassy. I’d tell you to make sure to be on time but it really doesn’t matter. You will stand in line to get through security. You will be given a ticket. Your ticket will feel like it will never be called. It gets called. You submit paperwork. They tell you to wait longer. Baby needs to eat. Feed baby. Baby shits. Clean shitty diaper in changing room forgetting to put down paper and getting shit all over table. Clean table with baby wipes. Baby gets fussy. Number still doesn’t get called. Marvel at all the other babies that seem to be crying less then your baby. Marvel that yours is still the cutest. Number gets called. Yay! Baby is US citizen. Resist the urge to salute baby.

STEP NINE: Walk back to the hotel to retrieve your cell phones that you were told that you couldn’t bring to the US Embassy but you totally can.

STEP TEN: Go for a pint. Make that two.

After the embassy, we took a cab to the Strand. I don’t know anything about London but Andy told me the Strand is incredibly touristy. I really didn’t care. I wanted to go to the Strand because the internet told me there were some Mexican restaurants in that area and I wanted, nay, NEEDED some Mexican food. (Warning! Tangent ahead!) If there is one thing the Liverpool does not have is Mexican food. I would venture to say most of England is vacant of proper Mexican food but having never searched out Mexican food anywhere else but Liverpool, I can only attest to there. And Liverpool, my dear Liverpool, does not do Mexican food. Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool does plenty Tex Mex, and really good Tex Mex at that. It does not do Mexican. To properly convey this, when I got my hair cut a few weeks ago the ladies there were asking me how I liked the area so far. I told them that I love it but I was missing certain foods like Mexican. They then mentioned some “Mexican” restaurants to try (that I had already been to) and I had to inform them, with a sober face, that on no planet should a Mexican taco (or enchilada, or burrito, etc) contain chili beans (red kidney beans). Pinto beans, sure. Refried beans, fuck yeah, but not chili beans. The ladies at the salon were in shock – was this not normal? The differences between Tex Mex and Mexican run deeper than just the beans but that’s what gets me the most. Don’t get me started on the margaritas. OK, do. First of all – if you can find a place that actually knows what goes into a margarita (which some places don’t I’ve found), make sure that place doesn’t try to serve you a margarita as a martini, which I’ve also encountered. I might be going on about this Mexican food thing, much to Andy’s utter disgust, but when Mexican food makes up one of the sections on your personal food pyramid (cheese, greek salads, spaghetti, and beer being the others on mine), you feel the hole. (Tangent over) When we were planning our trip to London I knew that if there was one place in this entire country to get my Mexican fix satiated, it was going to be London. And I wasn’t wrong. We went to La Perla, meaning ‘the Pearl’ as indicated by the gigantic mermaid making sweet love to a clam shell on the wall of La Perla, and it was fucking fantastic. No chili beans! Proper margaritas! I could have stayed there all day but ANDY made me go out and see the stupid sights.

Ha. Just kidding. I totally made him be the tourist.

 I wish to be transported there again please.

We battled with all the other 100 billion tourists and walked past 10 Downing Street (hello Prime Minister sir!), and the London Eye, and Big Ben\Parliament. I would like to state for the record that it is an American right (I think it might be in the Constitution or Bill of Rights or on a Denny’s menu somewhere) that when you see Big Ben\Parliament you must say, “Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!” and it will be funny – almost like you are the first person to ever use that pop reference. So I did, and I found it very funny, even though Andy didn’t know what the fuck I was on about.

It was pretty hot and humid so we stopped in a pub called the Sherlock Holmes for a bit of reprieve before continuing on to Tiger Finger Square (Trafalgar Square). Now as far as the Tiger Finger thing goes, I must mention that I have a really hard time with pronunciation. I sometimes think my tongue is 3 times bigger than my mouth (dirty!) the way it manages to trip over itself like it does. Words I trip over I just modify them into something I can pronounce and use it until the end of days. Andy finds this trait especially irritating as he is a Word Nazi. We do this Argument Dance that goes like this:

ME: Last time I came here I went to Nottingham (knot-ing-ham) …
ANDY: It’s Notting-am
ME: Whatever.
ANDY: (rolls eyes)

We actually do that all the time. He gets irritated when I screw up a word and I get irritated when he corrects me on it. Trafalgar Square was no different. I simply can’t pronounce Trafalgar Square. There’s just too much going on in that word for my tongue to handle it. So it became Tiger Finger Square (ANDY: Trafalgar Square!) (ME: Whatever). Anyhow, it was pretty cool.

That was another tangent by the way.

After Tiger Finger we walked back to the hotel. I don’t think either of us intended to walk 3 miles ALL AT ONCE because we are horribly unfit and don’t much care for walking a bunch without stopping at multiple pubs, but we did it and now our legs have bloody stumps at the end. I cannot stress the importance of proper footwear when in London. I would like to point out that Henry was quite comfortable during all this walking and once insisted that we feed him peeled grapes because he was feeling a bit “peck-ish”.

The EYE.  Please say that in a menacing voice.

If you're American, you know what to say.

Tiger Finger Square

National Gallery

Say hi to the Queen...if she was there...which she's not.

Piccadilly Circus

It's really hard to contain Henry's excitement sometimes.

On Saturday we had planned to do some more sight seeing. After the cab dropped us off at the train station (thus avoiding the Tube) and we dropped off our bags, we ran into a quiet pub on a quiet street and they were serving delicious Pimm’s on a hot day and we said “fuck it” and stayed there instead until our train departed. I would like to clarify that I know that was a run-on sentence and that when our train departed we were most certainly on it and not still at the pub drinking Pimm’s (which are the most delicious things even if they are made with gin which is my most hated and feared spirit after that thing in ‘Poltergeist’). Don’t get me wrong. I could have stayed at the pub all day drinking Pimm’s but I’ve got responsibilities now, like laundry and taxes and miniature American citizens, so I had to say adieu.


And that, my friends, was London.


  1. This makes me miss living in London. Minus the whole baby on a tube thing, cause yeah, that blows. I once took my newborn in his stroller to Waterloo from Wimbledon, so an overground train of like 15 minutes, went to get off, and almost dropped the stroller between the train and the platform. Fortunately some horrified businessmen helped me out but I stayed far away from the trains and stuck to the bus after that!

  2. Andrea,

    I don't understand the lack of lifts on the train - or having a huge gap from the train to the platform (I seriously would have shit myself if I was in your shoes when that happened to you!) As it is, while we were struggling with the stroller over a flight of stairs, there was a man in a wheelchair stuck at the bottom with us. Thankfully a group came along that helped us both. Stupid tube!

  3. all i have to say.... is well deserved cot

  4. wait... and by cot i mean pint.. you deserved a bed, not a cot

  5. Thanks sis, I think I do deserve a pint bed...or something.

  6. I bet you were glad to have the stroller even though it was a pain.
    Government ordeals are never easy. Even in America.
    You miss Mexican food and I miss Indian food. Nearest place is 40 minutes away.
    Looks like being a tourist was fun. Henry looks comfortable and soooo excited. He is too cute!


  7. BH: Time to make Indian food at home - which is what I have to do with Mexican. Granted, the ingredients are a little harder to come by for Indian food, especially in your area, but I'm sure you could pull it off.

  8. I am going to have to try La Perla, I was convinced London had no good Mexican food (although I admit I spend more time complaining about it than researching it.) I once bought Sainsbury brand salsa -- it tasted like ketchup with onions in it. I love ketchup and onions, but on a hot dog, not tortilla chips.

    And you are so right -- every member of my family that has visited has said “Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!” My fiance didn't get it so I made him watch European Vacation, and now he says it too.

  9. Reneedezvous: Definitely try La Perla, I was very impressed. I'd recommend going during a weekday as they have a decent lunch special. And their salsa was pretty good. Definitely not ketchup (I've seen this!) and rather spicy.