Better late than never

You remember how I claimed that I went to London this summer? I did. Honest. It's just that I'm a terrible blogger. But then, if you're reading this, you already know that.

I spent about five days with my friends who had rented a flat for the summer. Basically, they told me they were spending the summer in London, and I immediately invited myself. They were too polite to turn me town. The flat was in Belsize Park near Primrose Hill. The nearest underground stations were Chalk Farm and Swiss Cottage. From which we can conclude that the majority of locations in London sound like they have come directly from a children's book.

The neighborhood was very lovely--full of beautiful brick houses that were once large single residences, but have almost all been converted to flats. The romantic in me finds that to be rather a pity, but, on the other hand, if anyone would like to buy me a flat there, please feel free.


1. Upon greeting me, my friend Talya forewarned me that her three-year-old daughter had developed a "Dick Van Dyke accent." by which she meant a "Bert the chimney sweep from Disney's version of Mary Poppins" accent. Indeed, this very small blonde child, usually dressed in pink, had acquired a broad cockney-by-way-of-American-high-school-drama-club accent. It really wasn't her fault. Her mother is English; her father is Irish; they normally live in Massachusetts; she'd spent months surrounded by her English and Irish relatives and had been consuming a steady diet of BBC children's programming. Nevertheless, a slightly unspecific cockney accent coming from a very small girl? Hilarious. Unfailingly hilarious.

2. I would not have known this if I hadn't been staying in a house with two young children, but there is a very cool playground in Kensington Gardens built as a memorial to Princess Diana. It is built on a Peter Pan theme and you are jealous that it's not in your own town, you just don't know it. Fairy chimes, teepees, huge pirate ship, lost boys house. Super cool.

3. Another thing I wouldn't have ever found out were it not for the children: the BBC children's channel actually seems to be on the side of parents. In the evening, there is a peculiar bedtime program called "Iggle Piggle" (seriously, to me it looks like it cannot have been created without the aid of hallucinogens, but children seem to enjoy it), followed by another program where an actor reads a bedtime story. After the story, all sorts of BBC characters from various shows say goodnight and then...the channel actually goes off the air until morning and the children go to bed. It's brilliant. Goodnight BBC, goodnight children.

4. I met some plumbers in a pub who seemed extremely offended that I did not plan to go to Manchester.

5. Talya and I saw War Horse at the National. It is a completely amazing play that does not sound amazing. Ready? A young man raises a horse from the time it is a colt. WWI rolls around. The boy's father sells the horse to the army. The boy enlists to find his horse. There are many misadventures, largely because WWI was not delightful. The boy and the horse are finally reunited. Ta da!

See? Not amazing.

But the horses in this play were puppets. Huge puppets operated by between two and four puppeteers. And I can't even imagine the amount of rehearsal it must have taken to make those horses so entirely, well, horsey. It was simply breathtaking. And we all cried. So there.

There is a little video of it here, should you be curious.

6. They sell little containers of ice cream in the theatre at intermission. It, like everything, is overpriced and yet I did not care at all because I was sitting in a theatre and eating ice cream at the same time. If you are me, it really doesn't get better than that.

7. Our friends came down from Scotland. Later email correspondence suggests that at least one of them was "chuffed to bits" to see me. Very likely the best compliment I've ever received.

8. If you are an American sitting at a table with an Irishman, and English woman, and two Scots and the music suddenly gets very loud, it is quite possible that you will no longer be able to understand a single word that anyone is saying.

9. At Camden Market, I wanted to buy a great many impractical old things. To wit:

9. And, as for the Portobello Road, I wanted to live there AND buy old things.

And, were I not terrified to drive in England, maybe own this car. It's nice to know the people of Chelsea are pro-Obama.