“If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life.” On my first trip to London, a taxi driver thus quoted Samuel Johnson, and then admitted: “I’m tired of London anyway.”
I felt equally tired during a recent whirlwind trip to London. I was not at my best – I may or may not have caught Covid on the plane. I coughed and hacked at night, recovering somewhat during the day, after waking in a panic – was it 9 in the morning or 9 at night?
The trouble with being sick on vacation is that you can only admit to an interesting malady. You are not allowed to admit you are sick. I was leaving the hotel room later and later. Each day I flipped the sign with the “going green” housekeeping option mainly so as not to be disturbed by the maid. Huddled under a blanket and reading The Complete Short Stories of D. H. Lawrence, I eventually stepped down to the lobby to order a latte. In the U.S. I opt for plain American coffee, but I guess you don’t know what American coffee is unless you grew up watching Maxwell’s and Folger’s coffee commercials and then made the transition to Starbucks and the indie coffee shops . The British equivalent of our coffee, the Americano, is too harsh for my palate.
By the way, my fellow Americans were in England. The NFL football team, the Buffalo Bills, were in London to play Jacksonville, which, it is rumored, may move to London permanently so as to plunder a new market. When I heard the Bills were in town, I thought maybe I’d check it out, grab a hot dog and crash a tail party. I never go to ball games, but hey, this was England: show some team spirit! Later, I saw three guys in Bills Mafia t- shirts (don’t ask: it’s merch ) smirking and tossing around neck pillows, and I think maybe juggling them, which is always entertaining in the customs line.
A typical day for an American Woman of a Certain age and Health Profile (is that older or younger than I?) on vacations goes like this: TAKE cold pills, use inhaler, read while gently coughing and make more tisane while the pills kick in. Then check guidebook.
SHERLOCK HOlMES MUSEUM: No, no, no. Guide dressed as Sherlock Holmes. Creepy.
MADAME TUSSAUD’S WAX MUSEUM. Too much violence and creepy concept.
ART MUSEUMS. Great paintings, the thrill of seeing originals. And there are benches to sit on while one sniffles and blows one nose. Pretend to cry into your handkerchief. So much sensibility! Don’t admit you’re ill!
I did feel moments of exhilaration at the Wallace Collection, a gorgeous house with a famous 18th century collection of furniture and painting. There are two portraits side-by-side of 18th-century women holding small adorable dogs. I was enthralled by a replica of the King’s desk. I think it was Louis the XVI’s desk; at any rate it was laminated black and etched and carved with gorgeous birds and flowers.
From there it was a few blocks to Daunt Books, located in a gorgeous Edwardian shop in Mayfair. Because of the unseasonable temperatures, people were sunning themselves at the sidewalk cafes. I entered the magic portal of Daunt Books and gave myself 10 minutes to browse: I could have spent a day there, but I was in a rush, and realized what I bought had to fit in my suitcase.
There’s no place like home! I still have the interesting malady though. I had the latest Covid shot before the trip, so I pray this malady is NOT Covid!