So as of today I have been back from London for precisely one month. Unfortunately I am at a short summer conference/camp thing for senior college students, so you’re going to get a canned update. In honor of the anniversary of my return, I thought I’d make a list of all the things I find myself missing about London and the UK in general.
1. Public transport, or transport in general. This is the big one, the one I always mention first when people ask me what I miss the most about the city, and even the country. To give you an idea: I come from a very small town — a village, really — and the closest metropolitan center is definitely a very small city. This also happens to be where I go to school and currently live. Now, given that I live in the Midwest, anything in the state of interest is generally about 45 minutes to an hour away; anything outside the state is invariably two to six hours away. This is a driving, of course, and as it happens I don’t drive.
Imagine the wonder of London, then, with its Underground and buses that take me the distance from school to home every day and also anywhere else I damn well please. Also of note was the country’s rail system, which meant I could actually go outside of the city — to Edinburgh, Stratford, Wales, all sorts of wacky places. It shall definitely be missed.
2. Getting a weekly paycheck. This is self-explanatory.
3. Having things to spend a weekly paycheck on. Well, of course there are all the shops you get in London — clothing, book, whatever. Forbidden Planet is a real treat and carries some hard-to-get stuff. The grocery stores in London were better. I am not kidding. They have wider variety and it’s easier to eat healthy — and it’s practically required, since there are these loudspeakers in the shops which constantly tell you what you should be buying/eating that week. It can be annoying, but once you realize that all of the suggestions are 1) sales, 2) good, and you just kind of stop resisting, then it’s completely awesome.
And to balance that out it’s also easier to go out drinking on the weekends with your friends, and not necessarily in some seedy bar but in a halfway decent pub. You can also go to clubs, but the one time I tried to go the club had been closed by the Night Police because of a fight or something, so that’s how that is, I guess. Clubs were never really my thing anyway.
4. Theater. Technically part of the above, but it gets its own special mention for being so important to me personally. Having the opportunity to basically go out and see any play whenever was, again, a definite highlight of my experience in the UK.
5. Beauty, safety, etc. It’s true what they say about Americans, you know: we’re all kind of fat. Once I landed in Chicago on my flight back I noticed that there really were a lot more obese people here in the States, which is weird. It’s like you don’t notice them until they’ve been gone for a while. Anyway, there aren’t many obese people in the UK — probably because of the healthy eating thing — and in general the whole country has a more tranquil atmosphere. I mean, it’s safer there, publicly.
Don’t get me wrong, where I live it isn’t exactly dangerous, but being in the UK really made me feel safe. The CCTV notices and the police patrols during the day really let you know you were being looked after. I know that whenever I was out after dark, walking alone on the streets, I wouldn’t have to ever worry about being mugged — it seemed like there was a Night Police van around every corner. And speaking of the Night Police vans…
6. The Lullaby. I’ve had a harder time getting to sleep of an evening since I got back. At first I thought it was just a readjustment issue, but you see, the Night Police vans don’t just carry the Night Police, but a special transmitter for a subsonic frequency known jokingly as “the Lullaby.” You don’t even know it’s working, but it takes away all your stress and anxiety from throughout the day and helps you fall asleep in no time flat. Whenever you wake up you feel great and ready to face the day — and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it seems I now have a hard time falling asleep without it! Every time I’m about to nod off I hear the sound of breaking glass or something like that and I jerk out of bed, wide awake. Sometimes I can feel tears running down my cheeks. I just want to sleep, is that so much to ask for?!