I sat on a wall by St Paul’s trying to get a good picture of big guys riding tiny bicycles. At 6:00 pm the street was full of commuters and sunburned tourists. The cathedral steps are draped with tired tourists and people taking in the late day sun. On the sidewalks, commuters are talking and walking with haste and purpose–some wearing turquoise blue noise cancelling headsets others with bluetooth rigs. It’s truly the city of noise and orderly confusion. There appears to be no consensus here on which is the correct side to walk, though in the train and underground, all the pedestrian signs say keep left. It’s not only tourists like me who wander over to the right, locals do it too.
On a grassy area, a well built man lies on his back reading, with his feet on a tree. He is naked, but for his crotch, which is covered loosely by a small black cloth the size of a dish towel. A woman in a soft yellow gauze dress and a backpack zooms by on a blue
bicycle. A man in full leathers rides by on a motorcycle.
The cyclists don’t all wear helmets here, but many of them wear Dayglo vests in orange and particularly vibrant lime green. While I’m having tea (that’s our supper) at All Bar One pub near the Old Bailey, a girl goes by atop a tiny-wheeled red bike. She’s wearing leopard print capris and her bright red backpack matches the bike.
Apparently it’s okay to consume alcohol on the street here, because out on the sidewalk is a guy dressed in black with a black leather shoulder bag and dark shades, and he’s drinking a pint while conversing with another fellow in pleated pants and an Oxford shirt.
Already, I’m beginning to understand the difference between the countryside, where the landscape is dominated by plants and animals, and the cityscape, which is composed of humans and places. It’s such a contrast, and so obvious to me here in London. It makes me marvel that people who live in these disparate environments can have any commonality, and get along. I see why the outliers here don’t like to come onto London. It may be hopping and colorful, but the people are all in a hurry and don’t give you the time of day.
I have hardly seen a cop here, neither walking a beat nor in cruisers, though i have heard a few sirens. There just aren’t any visible in this part of the city. Video surveillance is everywhere, however.
The signage for tourists in Central London is good, though meant for walkers, and the tube is easy to grasp. The many buses are another matter. There are just so many routes. The schedules and signs at each stop, which each have a unique two letter code, is easy to follow, but like the trains and subway, you have to know the ultimate destination of each route to make any sense of it.
Everything that moves has advertising, and there are few billboards in the central city, which is the oldest part and was settled before the Romans arrived.. Red white and blue cabs covered in text advertise Vodafone, others with a simple logo, Panasonic. There are blue ComCabs and Dial-a-cab, and USAExchange, and the ubiquitous black cabs, and lavender and white ones advertising BT, whatever that is. The red double decker buses are moving signboards for just about everything. Barclay seems to have the rental bike concession. I’ve seen many bicycles with sky blue chain guards bearing the Barclay name.
I’ve managed to work my British money down to a few coins. I’m hoping it’s true that my one day transit pass is good for the 3:24 am N11 bus that will take me to the Gatwick train. I already have a ticket for that.
My British Airways boarding pass won’t email or print to my phone app as expected. I sure hope I don’t miss that flight to Marseilles.
I’ll write about Kew Gardens tomorrow. Right now I need to try to get a couple of hours of shut eye.