Things I learned in London. Some of which are funny, and some of which might only be interesting to me.

I went on a walking tour in London and I learned a lot of interesting things. Plus I saw a statue of a cat with a little red ribbon around its neck. So I win.

1. This is the tallest Doric column in the world at 202 feet. And it's by Christopher Wren. It's a monument about the Great Fire of 1666, which ran from Pudding Lane to Pie Street (yes). It blazed for three days because the government was slow to act, during which time riots broke out because angry people blamed it on every foreigner group they could think of instead of the true culprit: a poor baker. 

 

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2. The Bracken House is pink brick because it was the place where a pink newspaper was published. A Japanese company is there now but The Financial Times will be moving back into it soon.

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3. Dr. Johnson, the eccentric literary genius who wrote the first popular dictionary of the English language, loved his cat. And his cat loved oysters. There is a statue to prove both.

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4. Β "Cheap" is an old English word meaning "open market." That's where we get the phrase "to but something on the cheap." I don't have a picture for this.

5. The phrase "at sixes and sevens" (meaning "to be confused") comes from a battle of egos between London's livery companies (ancient and modern trade groups and guilds). In the old days their office street numbers corresponded to their place in line in parades behind the lord mayor of London. The skinners and merchant tailors fought over who should be 6 and 7, and the story goes that their grudge got so bad it exploded into a fight on the streets. The upshot was that the mayor made the decision to keep switching their numbers each year, so they both sort of won... but they could never knew remember which number they had from year to year and didn't know where to stand -- they were at sixes and sevens.

6. The red telephone boxes have a domed top to accommodate a man's top hat.Β 

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7. There is no muffin man on Drury Lane.

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8. Some of the bollards I keep walking into are recycled cannons from the Napoleonic wars. They are there to protect buildings from cars careering into them, but mostly just serve to trip up tourists who have their faces in their phones. Like me.

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9. People take Christmas sweaters seriously. Well at least ironically seriously. I saw so many people wearing them this weekend. I didnt photograph any of them though because some looked very drunk and others looked very hungover. 

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10. My research continues to suggest that Oreos are the great international culinary unifier. Make of that what you will.

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11. It seems less likely that it'd be M&Ms, but the jury is still out.

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That is all. For now.Β