European Diary: Courtyard of the British Library; 2:35 p.m., Sunday; May 30, 2004; London, England

The flight and its preparations were a trail, but worth it. London is very comfortable, not at all foreign, though others would probably disagree. Excellent to be in a real city again; things feel possible. London has become much richer, culturally, in the sense of a global culture, than it was the last time I visited – 20 years ago? It may be that I just see it more; I spent only a day or so here before.

The first two days here this time were devoted to rest and Sunday, it appears, is the day on which London becomes a tiny village again and everything shuts up tight. Most of our cultural activities will have to happen when we return oat the end of June. London has more museums, art and theatre than any other city I’ve ever seen, possibly more than NYC. We did wind up taking the Tube to Leicester square and walking through the West End, eating a typically English, yet not horrid, dinner at a restaurant – Brown’s? – in the theatre district. Then, a jog through an open-air drag queen convention on the streets of Covent Garden.

There are too many tourists and immigrants to count here. Many of the hotel and restaurant staff are Spanish, Russian, French, Georgian and Italian. Stores are run by Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Arabs, doing the same work as is done in the U.S. by Mexicans, Salvadorans, Vietnamese and so on. Once, on Oxford Street, S. and I got up from a café (Nero & Great Palace) and as we walked I heard so much French and Arabic I thought for a disorienting moment that I was in Paris instead of London.

Tomorrow we fly to Latvia. I expect it to be interesting and, for S., very emotional, but nine days is quite long. She has already started saying, “Curt, I want to move here.” There is a lot of media here.


Added bonus: 70s punk rock hooker look still alive and well here, especially among the middle-aged and unattractive.

One other note: It is a terribly noisy city. British reserve, indeed. I wish they would “reserve” their voices, doors and horns.

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