- Smoking is Still Trendy Here
First of all: cigarettes are verywhere. They litter the streets, collect in flower pots, and can be found between almost every Londoners’ fingers. The smell of tobacco covers most other smells and secondhand smoke doesn’t seem to be much of a nuisance for anybody here. In the U.S., vaping and other smoking alternatives have taken the place of cigarettes, in the hopes of quitting or at least subsiding the terrible side effects.
In the U.K., they have different tactics: the cigarette boxes—rather than decorated with stallions or camels or sexy ladies—are labelled with warnings in big text such as “CAN CAUSE HEART ATTACKS” or “SMOKING GIVES YOU LUNG CANCER.” These warnings are accompanied by pictures of blackened lungs, patients in critical condition, and even severed body parts. The cashier might as well tell you you’re going to die when handing them over.
But the English just keep on smoking, and boy, do they make it look cool.
- PDA is Like, Super OK
I’ve just never seen so much foreplay on the street before.
Or on the tube.
Or at the Globe.
Or in a museum.
You get the point.
Whereas in most regards, Londoners are quite polite and courteous, they like to get down in public like nobody’s business—and it really isn’t my business, ok?
Look, I’m a poor little Midwesterner and I still blush during sex scenes in the movie theatre. If I see one more butt squeeze or French kiss while out and about…well I won’t do anything—I’m Minnesota Nice afterall, that’s why I’m complaining about it here.
- Money? More like Fun-ey
There’s nothing like the English pound to remind me how unfun American money is. Do you know how easy it is to pay for things in coins here? You just plop those suckers into the cashier’s hand and it feels like you’ve given over a token at the arcade.
U.S. coins are inconvenient and often forgotten in couch cushions and street gutters. You’re way more likely to find a 1 pound coin on the streets than a paper dollar.
Fly across an ocean and you’ll find that pound coins will transform you into a fancy merchant handing over silver, even though you’re just buying some chips.
Or crisps…because chips are fries here…and fries are, um…
Wait, what am I buying again?
It doesn’t matter. Take my fun coins!
DON’T ASK BECAUSE LONDON DOESN’T HAVE IT.
And there’s a heatwave right now.
And all the fans are sold out.
You bet I’ve noticed that.
- These Boots Were Made for Gawking
I feel like a little rat here in my worn down Vans. A goblin in rags. An ugly duckling that grew to be an even uglier duck.
I don’t know how Londoners do it—look so good that is—or how they afford it, or how they manage to look perfect despite the heat they so often tell us they aren’t used to.
Most noticably, Londoners have crazy shoes. Designer sneakers, tiny sandalswith absolutely no arch support (again, HOW do they do it?), and the classic Doc Marten boots. With all of the walking these people do on a daily basis, a good shoe selection doesn’t seem out of the question. But I still have some questions…like, what size do you wear, miss? Can I borrow those?
I visited Harrods the other day—which is basically a museum of all the designer clothes I will never be able to afford, along with other objects I will never be able to afford like Gucci candles and baby Balenciaga sneakers (sorry, future children)—and they literally have a whole floor called “Shoe Heaven.” (That’s the level right above the “Shoe Lab,” of course.)
Personally , I felt I was in Shoe Purgatory, gazing at Versace heels that my peasant feet will never get into. Do those come in U.S. 7 wides?
Cool. I can’t afford them, anyway.
– Sajda Omar ’18