October 18, 2010

Random Observations of London Life

There are fireworks in the grocery stores here. Large firework displays, heavily advertised, next to the Halloween candy displays. I find it disturbing to select my produce and my gunpowder in the same section of the store. Perhaps if they moved it to the hardware aisle I'd feel better. Or at least to the seasonal aisle; although that seems to be packed with left over school uniforms and the beginnings of Christmas gear. Still though, gunpowder next to oranges smacks of "dangerous projectile" to me.

Every day on the bus, I pass a sign warning people that Flytipping is illegal and carries a £20,000 fine. It took me a month to work out what fly tipping is and why it is worth a £20,000 fine. Littering only brings a fine of £50-75 (unless I throw a cigarette butt, that seems to be something other than littering). I'm unsure what amount of volume is needed to bring about the £20k fine and I don't plan on finding out.

Cricket is a big sport here. It's a very upper class sport and is most often associated with Yorkshire, a staunchly and proudly blue collar region. No one is posh in Yorkshire. No one. But they play cricket. And the best cricketers come from Yorkshire apparently. Yet no one actually from Yorkshire can tell me why that is. They simply laugh and say: I've no idea. I've never played it. I'm not posh enough.

If I take a friend to dinner at a vegetarian restaurant, I will have to stop to pick up a bottle of wine, since most veggie places don't have liquor licenses. I'm fine with that, what bothers me is non-standardized corkage fees charged for bring a bottle in. One place tells me it's £2 per bottle, one says it's £2 per person, one says £20 per table. This is God's best argument to eat more meat.

They have actual milkmen in London. Little carts come round to the house and deliver milk. And bottled water. And eggs, I think. Those are some talented cows.

Yesterday I passed a sign that said this: New Zebra Crossing Ahead. I wondered what part of the world I was in very briefly. In Wyoming, we have cattle crossings. I've seen signs posted for ducks, horses, deer, and in one place, moose. But those signs are about the animal crossing the road. In London, however, a zebra crossing is a pedestrian crossing. It's called a zebra crossing because they stripe the pavement with white and it ends up looking like a very large, very flat, geometric zebra was run over.

Guy Fawkes night is upon us. This is a holiday celebrated in Ireland and I just find it a bit odd. Guy Fawkes, back in the 1700s, tried to blow up the British Parliment. He placed barrels of gunpowder under the actual chamber where the law makers met. Unfortunately for Mr Fawkes, the fuses failed to ignite and he was arrested and most likely killed. It's called the Gun Powder Plot, I believe. Today, the British commemorate the day by lighting fireworks. It's a celebration of his failure. In Ireland, however, they light fireworks and celebrate that someone tried to blow up Parliment.

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