And 11 other times London made me go WTF
Housing agents work fast in London. 48 hours after I landed, I found myself in a Foxton’s Mini cruising up Holland Park with a bottle of sparkling water in hand, because that’s how Foxton’s rolls.
“See that SUV? It looks like Mr Beckham is home.” said Ben the housing agent. “And the place we’re going to see is right on the next street.”
Sadly, the offer I put down for that sweet little studio was quickly thrown out, along with all hope of brunching/BFF-ing with the Beckhams. But if there’s one thing London has a knack for, it’s an extraordinary ability to be, well, extraordinary. Here are eleven other times it’s made me go WTF in just my first three weeks here.
- Black cab drivers
When I first got here, I took a black cab into the city and the driver used all manner of back roads to get around rush hour traffic without once looking at Google Maps. Contrast that to my clueless Uber driver a couple of weeks later and it’s easy to see why people fork out more for The Knowledge.
- WTB (What’s That Building) syndrome
Many. Pretty. Buildings. And so much history. I’m still getting over the fact that the St Mary’s campus is where Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.
- Queen’s first London gig was at Imperial College
Speaking of distinguished alumni, two members of Queen (Brian May and Roger Taylor) graduated from Imperial and their very first London gig was at the ICL Union Hall. Strangely though, the statue of Freddie Mercury is in Switzerland.
- Concerts are held in actual palaces. And those palaces pick up charming names like Ally Pally.
- Horses are an incredibly common sight on London streets. They also leave an incredible pong and often have police riding on them. Approach with caution. You have been warned.
- Mews aren’t the sounds that kittens make. They’re what the rest of us call back alleys and they were also apparently stables (horses again!) in another life.
- The best Chinese roast duck I’ve ever had is in London, in a restaurant called Gold Mine on Bayswater. Even the vaunted restaurants in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia don’t hold a candle.
- It’s amazing how green it is for a city so grey. The sun rarely shows its face but somehow, almost half of London is covered in greenery and flowering plants. What sorcery is this?
- It’s amazing how grey it is for a city so green. Air pollution is much worse here than back in Singapore. What’s really scary is that you barely notice it, insidious as it is.
- Cockfosters is an actual Tube station. I’m the only one who laughs when it’s announced.
- I can vote here. Citizens of the Commonwealth resident in the UK can cast their votes in British elections and, apparently, controversial referendums too. Come on Theresa, I’m waiting.
Ten more months here in London. What will this city throw at me next?