From Across the Pond …


Yes – I’m still alive.  This is allegedly the section of The Tower where Princess Elizabeth was impisoned by her sister Mary I.  I say “allegedly” because none of the Beefeaters knew for sure, and besides we couldn’t tour it anyway – the governor, oops, the governeur of the place lives there.

Otherwise, I won’t be able to check in much, because the hotel gives us one whole hour of free internet per day, as long as I use it sitting in the bar while spending money.  Fucking hotels ….


London hotels are the worst about ripping you off for internet access, but you should be out having fun anyway instead of posting for us. Say hi to the gang at Harrods’ shoe dept for me.

I’m afraid to ask what the dollar/pound ratio is now.

Dodgerblue: $1.65 to the sterling, on the markets. The banks will throw a vig on top of that, of course.

Last year, when I did my trip to London, it was rolling about $1.60 to one at the banks. That was just fine with me. Better than the 2:1 trade in 2006 when I went to Oxford for a friend’s trip.

May I just say that London in November is YOUR BEST TRAVEL VALUE. It’s damp and dark, which suits me, and the rates are silly low (for London, anyway).

TJ/Check this out:


Just when I thought I’d seen the bottom of the crazee rabbit hole, what with teabaggers and David Icke and so on, I find this.

Scroll down the the “Customers Ultimately Buy” section for a giggle.

@chicago bureau: I can’t vouch for decades-old memories, but $1.60 sounds a lot like my 1978 trip, when I was able to watch (cue Benedick) a very battered JC Superstar on its home turf.

That trip also gave rise to what remains a pressing philosophical question: How do you explain pretzels to a shopkeeper who’s never heard of them?

@al2o3cr: This is great. I can’t decide what’s funniest: the ALL CAPS description of the crazee, the P&P&Z buy, or the reviews of the book.


Watching Pop-Up Video… I completely forgot that Sen. Al Franken was in the video for the Ghostbusters theme.

@chicago bureau: I like London, and I’m OK with cold and damp, at least for a while. I’ll be spending some time in Columbus, OH for work the next couple of months and will be able to report on the comparison.

@Dodgerblue: I did Cold & Damp for, oh, 40 years or so.

Then I moved south.

@nojo: Dude, totally brothers from another mother. London and greater England, 77 here. Saw real life blue haired punk rockers, ordered a pint of Guiness in a pub, laughed at the ham and cheese sandwich I was served there, and identified the field where the Beatles’ tank battle takes place in “Help” before the tour guide did. Oh, and I lifted a palm-sized stone from the floor of Winchester Cathedral that had kicked loose, shame I no longer have that.

Since it was a trip with our English teacher, we took in a production of Othello that I loved, and also that longest running hit where everyone takes off their clothes quite early in the play. Who cares what the play is, I’m 17 and there are nekkid people cavorting on stage?

ADD: the Yen is at something like 83 to the dollar. It topped out over 120 per when we were there, never lower than 100. Those six dollar beers are now, what, 8?

@nojo: Oh noes! Had you come a year or two earlier you could have caught me at the Piccadilly singing Jerome Kern out of tune (2nd time in my ‘career’ I was booed) but looking hot in Very Good Eddie. I realize that this could have in no way slaked your thirst for ALW – nothing could- I know how it is for you. Can anyone really know how to love him? The Piccadilly, at about 1100 seats, seemed gigantic then. Silly me. That was before I played the Fox in Atlanta with over 4000 seats. Indoor. And yes, one does need a mic.

London in November. Season of mist and nagging dismalness. Shillings for the meter and damp rotting the ceiling and conkers littering the parks. One of my favorite times of the year. The city free of Yanks and Arabian princesses trailing their entourages and bodyguards through the fish market at Harrods. Glum descending over the city like a great wet blanket. But at the coast, near Folkstone, where we had a weekend flat, the Channel was bracing with winds to strip the hair from your head. Great plumes of spray flying over pebble beaches. And out past Dungeness, where the tide goes out for miles, the nuclear power plant like Mordor in a haze of spray and drizzle. And the fishing boats unloading piles of fish still fighting for breath to be set out on marble slabs. Turbot and plaice and Dover sole. And is there honey still for tea?

Does one ever recover from leaving the place where one was born?

And blog, don’t miss the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey. And take a morning to go to St Paul’s and climb up to the dome, inside then outside, then between the skins to the base of the Wren peppercorn. Then – I did it once – you can climb up into the ball that supports the cross at the very top of it all. There’s room only for one at a time and the ladder is narrower than your shoulders but it’s magic.

TJ As much as I hate to drag politics into a discussion of nojo’s ALW fixation the Demonrats jammed health care down 39 GOP throats in the Senate a little while ago.

What ho, pip pip, cheery-oh.

I have never been to England, I think it would bo so cool to be in a foreign coountry where I can understand the language, it would make the cultural differences even more visible.


You may be in luck r/e the “cold and damp” part; December here in Columbus is one of the more likely months for “cold and damp”, sometimes for weeks straight. Not that that’s much of a guarantee, as it’s nearly as likely to be sunny and warm (or raining ICE at 2″ an hour) as anything else…

@Promnight: You can read the signs there, but whether you can tell what they’re saying with those funny accents is another question entirely.


HC bill now can be “debated.” Whoo hoo?

@al2o3cr: You’re in Columbus? Cool. I work for a national enviro organization that is fighting the licensing of new coal plants, and there are a couple of them in play in Ohio. We’ve got depositions, trials, all sorts of fun lined up in Columbus. Any recommendations on where to eat downtown?

Coolest thing I ever climbed in another country: The Mayan pyramid at Chitzen Itsa, the Temple of Kukulkan (aka Quetzalcoatl).

Been paintingkitchen and LR about 10-11 hrs. Icing the leg now. I found out I tore a calf muscle jumping off my truck

@Benedick: Does one ever recover from leaving the place where one was born?

Yes. Especially when the temperature never slips below 40.

But in a college town, people are shifting in and out all the time — I actually lived through five or so mini-eras, so the town I grew up in had long since disappeared anyway. It’s more odd living amid all those ghosts than leaving.


There’s no shortage of stuff downtown, especially around lunchtime. Some personal favorites:

Cafe Brioso; coffee so good even people who don’t like coffee enjoy it. Roast their own beans onsite, great baked goods too. Directly under the local Rethug HQ (on Gay St), but don’t hold that against them.

– not too familiar with the courthouse area, as I work farther north, but a perennial local award winner down that way is Katzinger’s Deli

– a little farther afield, the North Market is always a good bet. If you can’t find *something* good here, you must not like food. :) Don’t miss Jeni’s Ice Cream.

– two *more* blocks north of the Market gets you into the Short North. Tons of stuff here; Betty’s is a favorite of mine. Also lots of bars, galleries and boutiques.

– finally, a shameless plug for my buddy Andreas’s place: Victorian’s Midnight Cafe. It’s a little outside of downtown (5th and Neil, about 2 miles) but well worth it. Watch out around dinnertime, though, as the live music on most nights gets started around 8PM or so.

You’ll likely want to track down a copy of the local alternative weekly The Other Paper when you get into town, as it has a pretty solid listing of places every week. I would recommend the dining guide on their site, but the website appears to has a stupid at the moment.

Feel free to hit me up via email ( if you have any other questions.

oh yes, my darling benedick. one does indeed recover…especially if the place you were born was philadelphia.
i’ve been posting pics on FB from a HS class trip to england. i remember nothing but a party, we could have been anywhere. i do remember stratford-on-avon, and was delighted to see a production of romeo and juliet there, but i was weird that way. we were 16 and they were serving us at every bar. it got messy. my memories of 10 days in england: shakespear, drugs, vomit.

happy bday BLOGGIE! have fun! (who is watching lilly?)

Oh ha ha. All these great places and I am on a four- hour layover on the airport in fuckig DETROIT.

Must…find…bloody… mary….

@Promnight: If you want to be in a foreign country and understand the language – sorta – you could just go to Georgia.

@Benedick: @Tommmcatt is hunkered down in the trenches: It looks very likely that I will be wintering, and possibly spring- and summering – in the subcontinental nethers of south asia. Curry, tea and the Queen’s colonial English. I am looking forward to the hassle of TSA agents, the clean sameness of duty free shops, cramped space on cattle class and wrestling with jetlag as I fly eastward. Gonna miss Ma Nabisco and the little biscuits, however.

@al2o3cr: The Ohio Republican Party headquarters is on Gay Street? That is too perfect.

@Tommmcatt is hunkered down in the trenches: Detroit is on my list of least favorite airports.


Even better, a Republican colleague of mine says that there was a push (10-15 years ago) to remodel the building to CHANGE the facing. Two problems:

– the other street they could face was High Street…

– the fiscal conservative wing absolutely shit bricks when they saw the projected cost. The project was quietly dropped.

@al2o3cr: Excellent, thanks. I’m going to copy this and fwd it to my trial buddies, who will be coming in from Chicago. For myself, coming in from Santa Monica, I guess I should upgrade from flip-flops.

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