london-paddingtonsSo I’m doing well at this posting daily thing, aren’t I?

I blame Lulu. If she hadn’t been around me forcing me to get sozzled each evening, I might be sitting down quietly and writing my daily diary. I do have a little excuse. Yesterday I spent the entire day praying to the the porcelain goddess. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the exceptional meal I ate the prior evening, because Lulu (also known as Jack Nicholson) managed to power through the day, even head into the office (she’s managed to take this break despite her lack of remaining leave, because she can pretend to work remotely). I expect its all this travelling in the tube with people sneezing their winter germs all over me. Except it’s Summer.

I did manage to pull it all together at the last minute in the evening to haul my sorry body into a cab and head out east to the Troxy. The Violent Femmes are doing a tour, and fortuitously they arrived in London at the same time as me. It took me back in so many ways; The dingy Art Deco theatre living on borrowed time in the wastelands that surround the hippest areas. The black jeans with comfortable tears and T-shirts printed with political or just morbidly obscure slogans. The barely-bubbling post-mix Pepsi in a plastic pint glass (yes, as ludicrous as it may sound, I was off the sauce). The music of course – Gordon Gano’s nasal high-schooler voice is exactly the same, and Brian Ritchie has that same wooden base sound and long strawberry blond locks dancing in tune (fortunately the mullet has grown out though). Even my year 10 geography teacher was there.

Oh wait. No, that would be the lead singer.

How did that happen? I suppose we all get old. And casting my eyes around the theatre for a second look, I saw paunches stretching those rebellious t-shirts. More grey hair on heads than pink, possibly even more than black. People dubiously sniffed their plastic pint glasses, as if they didn’t trust what might be in them. The dress circle kept to their seats. Nobody was smoking in the non-smoking area. A couple of thirty-year-olds tried to start a mosh pit in the standing zone, but everyone just moved out of their way so they had nothing to bounce off. Not to say the concert wasn’t enjoyed – they kicked off with Blister to get us all in the mood from the get-go, and boy did we wriggle our butts in our seats like teenagers….


Considering I have no food news for you today, I thought I’s share a couple of observances on London. Things pondered whilst sitting on the bathroom floor waiting for my next… ahem… call to prayer.

london-fortnum's catLondon toilet paper is the densest I have ever come across. It’s all about 15-ply stuff, stiff enough to fan yourself with. I used to think that those mentions on French holiday rental contracts, stating “Do not use English toilet paper in our lavatories” was just a hangover of hundreds of years of feuding, and a feeble attempt to disable the English sanitary economy. Turns out it’s not.

There are more pigeons in London than square feet of pavement. I actually stepped on a bird the other day – it was quite disturbing for both of us. I have resolved never to order poussin in any London restaurant with less than 2 Michelin stars.

london-holborn bicycleIt’s easy to recognise a London restaurant, even from afar, or looking down a narrow alley, because there is always a wheelbarrow of potted herbs and a bicycle out front. They get all their fresh ingredients delivered on two wheels by a farmer, obviously.

Prawn cocktails are back on the menu. Can’t get away from them. I haven’t been to London for nearly 20 years, and I remember it was exactly the same back then. I am assured by other Londoners that they went away for a while, but they have returned – not better than ever, but in traditional form, perched in receptacles better suited for drinking out of, and smothered with enough thousand-island to actually make an attempt at drinking it anyway. But not complaining – always been a bit partial myself.

Cocktail lists are designed for readers, not drinkers. Ingredients and preparations have taken on such an extreme rennaisance that you have to read every drink twice, just to figure out what it might actually taste like, let alone what feeling it may be sent to convey. Then multiply this by ten. For each basic spirit. Then add a few Champagne cocktails. Then the virgins. By the time you get to the end you either want everything or nothing, and they have already called last drinks. Which still happens WAY too early in London.

london-footLondoners are the nicest and most sarcastic people I have met. You don’t ask for something, they give it to you. You do ask for something, and they tell you you can’t have it. Then they give it to you.

It’s possible to get sick of the whole ‘real food’ and ‘clean eating’ concept. After living in Dubai, where everything is shipped in, covered in plastic, just to be unwrapped, refrigerated, squirted with something, refrigerated, re-wrapped in plastic, put on a polystyrene tray, then wrapped in plastic again to be sold, I was looking forward to some fresh local food. But things have gone beyond twee, and I’m beginning to feel it’s being rammed down my throat (note, the wheelbarrow observation above). Even Pret-a-Porter has a big sign out front that states “Organic Coffee – Natural Food”. It’s all a good thing, but I’m so tired of being told, I’m on the lookout for something new. I’m not sure if it’s going to be fake food in total rebellion, or maybe something like Zen-food (so sustainable that you don’t actually get any food at all), but if they don’t pull back the cloying messages soon, it’s going to start sending me (and probably others – link to a Jay Raynor article I read while having my organic vegan breakfast the other day) in the wrong direction.

I will never get tired at laughing at Londoners who think it is hot. Eighteen degrees is T-shirt weather? OK. You poor deprived nutters.

So that’s it for today. Tomorrow we hit Harrods, the English store that is so English, the Qataris decided to buy it as a souvenir. But for some reason we don’t have it in Dubai yet…


Please note: All of these photos are taken with an iPhone and are not edited by anything more technical than instagram. This is done in the spirit of fast posting – a new thing for me. Proper pics and reviews will follow when I have time upon my returne to Dubai.

Summary of activities:

Troxy Theatre – Decent venue in fairly barren area near Limehouse station (the only pub seeming to be open was the Royal Duchess, and that’s not a destination venue, that’s for sure.) Great features and acoustics, but looking a bit tired. Dress circle booths were the best seats, but Standing room is where it’s at. Friendly staff. 7/10

The Violent Femmes – still holding it together even though the lead singer sorely needs a stylist. Even if it’s a teenager from Rockhampton. Played all the big hits you remember first, so the oldies can get home to bed early. 7/10

My Hotel Toilet – no. You really don’t want to go there… 0/10

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