It turns out that London, the tea-drinking capital of the Western world, really shares more in common with a cup of coffee.
Coffee is an acquired taste, often a bitter one, but it’s full of enough heart-starting bliss to make anyone an addict after one cup. London, with its bipolar disorder-inducing weather, tracksuit-clad-tourist who infest Underground and pokerfaced rows of beige buildings, somehow hooks you on the first sip. I still can’t figure out why, but I’ve joined the ranks of the London-obsessed.
So, as my own cup runs dry and the nostalgia of joyful discovery (and post-exam exhaustion) washes over me, I’ve decided to make this final column a “Best Of” list. A heartfelt tribute to all things British or a shameless ploy to abandon all need for coherent thought, a la VH1? Let’s forget that one and get on with this list, but keep in mind that my brain and Jell-O have a lot in common right now, minus the glowing deliciousness.
Pub: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
It’s the oldest pub in London. Famous authors like Charles Dickens used to hang out there. Above all, it has “Olde” in the name - but remember, pronouncing the final “e” is a dead giveaway that you are: (a) not British, and/or (b) impaired.
Shopping experience: Petticoat Lane
This street market in East London is almost the only place in the world where you can find ?2 bras flapping in the breeze next to a bootleg Bob Marley CD stand. Extra credit if you are flattered or harassed into buying something by a vendor.
Drink: The Snakebite
Cheap beer can be easily improved with hard cider and a bizarrely delicious dash of blackcurrant liqueur. It’s tasty and economical, and makes even your inevitable hangover sound tough.
City getaway: Hyde Park
In this verdant oasis, runners in Lycra pants, hopelessly lost tourists and dogs resembling shaggy ottomans can share a place in the sun.
Out-of-the-city getaway: Oxford
Hundreds of years of academic genius, pubs that radiate with that woody warmth of antiquity and the location featured in parts of the Harry Potter films (apparently some people have seen, and liked, these movies).
TV show: “Playing It Straight”
In this reality TV show, Zoe (permanently appearing confused) must find a straight boyfriend for herself out of a group of men, some of whom are gay. If she picks a straight guy, they split the cash, but if she picks a gay guy (fingers crossed), he takes home everything! It’s both crueler and classier than American reality TV, so you really can’t go wrong.
New Brit band: The Kaiser Chiefs
“Settling down in your early twenties/Sucking more blood than a backstreet dentist,” this Leeds quintet sings on its debut album, “Employment.” Need I say more?
This innovative drama revolves around a family that harbors a dark secret. It’s especially nice to hear the scandalous gasps from the group of elderly women sitting in the row behind you, because not enough fazes senior citizens these days.
Using these charming British sayings in D.C. is bound to get you noticed (i.e. put on a Pentagon watch list of some sort):
Bird (noun): Woman, girl.
Bloke (noun): Man, guy.
Bugger off! (command): Go away, leave me alone.
Knackered (adjective): Tired, exhausted.
Pissed (adjective): Drunk.
Cheers! (exclamation): Exact meaning unclear; used in almost any setting. Usually said when people are smiling.