Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rickey's Comprehensive Guide To London

With Barack Obama overseas panhandling for money ahem, we mean spreading international goodwill, at the G-20 conference, we figured that the time was right for a brief travel guide for the city of London. No, it's not the capital of the world -- ironically enough, it was a Brit (John Lennon) who first named New York as the globe's crowning metropolis -- but it's a terrific town nonetheless. From his semester abroad spent there (we believe it was featured on "Stuff White People Like") Rickey has fond memories of strolling on Charring Cross Road down to Trafalgar Square, then down Whitehall to Westminster. Let Rickey tell you, the view from Westminster Bridge on a rare sunny day is incredible. It's truly a wonderful city, there's something cozy about it, kind of like New York in Christmas, but all the time. As an added bonus, it's also a great place to go and not feel out of place for your syphilis and brown teeth. So without further adieu, we've put together a brief travel compendium for Mr. Obama during his stay in the Old Smoke.

Economy. If the slick haired Gordon Geckos at CNBC are to be believed (and really, what possible reason would they have to mislead us?) then the UK is about 6 months behind the U.S. in terms of it's economic welfare. So things are deceptively stable at the moment. Look for that alluring Dickensian mystique to take over in a few months and the ranks of street urchins and chimney sweeps to grow exponentially. If you own a business selling soleless shoes or fingerless gloves, then now is the time to pounce.

Cuisine. The great thing about London is that it's a cosmopolitan city with multicultural roots. We think it has something to do with that whole conquer-and-enslave-native-civilizations-and-bring-them-back-to-our-rainy-island-to-toil-in-a-life-of-servitude thing that the Brits used to do back in the day. The long and short of it is, if you're jonesing for some Indian food, great sushi, some tasty hot curry dishes, or the world's best kebabs, then London has you covered. As you've probably heard, it's best to avoid the famously unappealing British dishes. But if you absolutely must partake, be sure not to settle for being served any imitation gruel. Demand the real thing. Although nine out of ten coal faced groveling orphans can't tell the difference, Rickey can most definitely tell you that there is one. Also, avoid the meat pies on Fleet street--those things are murder on your stomach.

Technology. Yeah, they've got this internet thing over there as well. The London Bridge even has it's own Twitter account. And it's every bit as awesome you'd expect it to be. In fact, we'd go so far as to call it Fergalicious.

Night Life. Put it this way: London has roughly one pub for every 30 citizens. And most every Brit in every pub just loves Americans (just avoid mentioning the Revolutionary War--that's like their Vietnam). In other news, CNN has just announced that Ted Kennedy will be joining the Obama envoy on a fact-finding mission to London. Zing! What's that you say? Ted Kennedy drinking jokes got old 20 years ago? Hm, Rickey missed the memo...

Noteworthy Sites. Let's see: the Eye, the British Museum, Piccadilly Circus, the Globe, the National Portrait Gallery, the New Tate... suffice to say, there's a ton to see. And the view from the top of St. Paul's is absolutely breathtaking. Also, did you know that the name Big Ben only refers to the bell? The clock tower itself is actually named St. Stephen's Tower. One day you will drop this obscure bit of trivia at a dinner party and everyone will marvel at how knowledgeable an individual you are and anoint a laurel wreath atop your heard.

Transportation. In terms of navigability and ease of use, the buses and the Tube far exceed any form of mass transit system we've got stateside. But be warned that it can get quite crowded--be fully prepared for pelvis-to-pelvis contact with a random rugby jersey wearing muppet should you attempt to squeeze on to the Northern line during certain hours. But as an added bonus, whenever a train arrives or departs, a loud booming Orwellian male voice announces "MIND THE GAP."

Crime. The crime stats would have you believe that London is a relatively safe town and that their police, are able to keep the peace with their their funny hats and sophisticated European sirens. However, Rickey will tell you that London can actually be a very violent town if you wear the wrong football jersey into the wrong pub. Judging by the fact that a Brit invented this charming device, we're going to go out on a limb and tell you that it's borderline "Gangs of New York" over there.

Fashion. Rather than admit to the possibility that London is an urban and hip city, Rickey prefers to keep his silly prejudices. So we're assuming that everyone in London dresses like this guy: Now there is a man who is clearly unhappy about not getting the lead part in a Gilbert & Sullivan musical.

Sports. Rickey tried to wrap his head around the game of cricket but came away even more confused. Moreover, we're pretty sure that nobody in Britain actually watches a full game of cricket--they just want to know who won. Football is their sport of choice, and Rickey dove into it whole heartedly while he was over there. It's a major reason why Ms. Henderson used the parental controls on the cable box to block the English Premiere League soccer channel in the Henderson apartment. Treacherous wench--you shall not stifle Rickey's undying allegiance to the Blues!

Carefree, wherever we may be,
We are the famous CFC,
And we don't care
Whoever you may be,
'Cause we are the famous CFC!

Language. The slang over there is profane yet delightfully charming sounding. To this day we have absolutely no idea what it means to "cock a snook" at someone, but that doesn't stop Rickey from using the phrase on a regular basis.

Culture. For a city that has survived plagues, fires, and aerial bombings and is known for possessing citizens with stiff upper lips, it's kind of funny how Londoners embrace their frivolous tabloid culture. If you thought American tabloid culture was bad, you ain't seen nothing. For an entire semester, Rickey watched Robbie Williams and the members of Oasis get into various scuffles outside pubs and the press lapped it all up. Good times. Now they've got Lilly Allen who is kind of like our Lindsay Lohan, yet marginally classier.

Travel Recommendations. Mr. Obama, whatever you do, don't make the same mistake Rickey made when he went abroad to London. DO NOT attempt to continue your long distance relationship with that freshman tennis player attending SUNY Binghamton. She will leave you for a soccer player, refuse to return your signet ring and half your DVD collection, and all you'll be left with is a hole in your heart and thousands of dollars in long distance phone bills. One day you'll want that two disc Criterion Edition of "Armageddon" back, and you'll never get it. Just trust Rickey on this. Walk away, Mr. Obama, walk away.

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George said...

There's nothing I can do about the brown teeth but I didn't think the syphilis showed.

Mike said...

Well done, sir. I especially like the photo . . . of London in the 30s (40s?), not the fat dude.

whenever a train arrives or departs, a loud booming Orwellian male voice announces "MIND THE GAP."

This made me laugh.