"Mind the bottle, woman!"

At threatened, a later-than-usual update this week, having just been to the airport to wave a friendly good-bye to TC's American ambassador who has been over here for the past eight days -- see last time for details, as I worried about how best to amuse a first-time visitor.

In the end, it proved remarkably easy, because there are so many things which we residents take for granted, but which are deeply interesting to tourists. I'd quite forgotten how architecturally interesting a city London actually is, once you raise your eyes above the street level rubbish of burger bars and bureaux de change. It's a complete mess, in terms of periods, with Edwardian, Victorian and modern piled together, but it does make for interesting viewing.

I also visited the Tower of London, for the first time ever. S'ok, I suppose, though all the REALLY cool stuff i.e. the arms + armour, and the exhibition about instruments of torture and execution, were closed. Not that they mentioned this when we paid our nine quid to get in, of course... Made up for it by going to the London Dungeon instead, which satisfactorily assuaged Chris's hunger for things icky and morbid, and is rather more fun than queuing for hours to see some poxy jewels.

Speaking of hunger, I was given a wide brief when it came to Feeding the Chris: "stuff I haven't had before that's not gross". Hmmm, sounds like an opportunity to show off traditional British cuisine i.e. curry, in all its delicate flavours and forms: balti, masala, madras and vindaloo. I must confess that the boundaries of "not gross" were stretched a little bit by including haggis on the menu, but Chris seemed to enjoy it. Most visitors are keen to try it, only until they discover how it's made -- it's the bit about hanging the sheep's windpipe over the side of the pot when you're boiling the stomach that usually does them in...

Transport presented one or two problems: while double-decker buses were thoroughly enjoyed, I lost count of the number of times I had to yank on Chris to prevent a sudden claim on the medical insurance, as the result of a vehicle sneaking up on the blind side. Even the trains drive on the left, and the Tube presented the severest test to the sensibilities of someone more used to the wide open spaces of Arizona. The first time a train pulled in, only mildly crowded, Chris's aghast reaction of "Are we getting ON that?" revealed a certain nervousness, and the favourite way of passing the journey seemed to be playing "Spot the Psycho" -- though on London Underground, *everyone* is a viable candidate.

Regardless of such trifles, I think Chris had a good time (the weather was far more Arizona-esque than I could have hoped for!) -- I know I certainly did, having obtained a fresh regard for the wide and varied delights of our capital city, and respect for those who come here to appreciate them. Which, I suspect, will last roughly until 9am on Monday morning, when I shall resume my usual surly and aggressive approach to all those twats standing on the wrong side of the escalator...


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