ETHIOPIA 13: London Interlude

September 15, 2004

I land in London at 8 am. I hotfoot it to a place called S&M, an English comfort food joint located UNDER the Westway, where it passes over Portobello Road. S&M stands for Sausage and Mashed.
I eat an English breakfast–fried egg, mushroom, Cumberland sausage, bacon (UK bacon is a kind of midpoint between US bacon and Canadian bacon), toast, black pudding, baked beans, and LOADS of H&P brown sauce–the pinnacle of British civilization.
I ate there four times in the two days I was in London. Two breakfasts, two big plates of bangers and mashed for lunch. I am the guy who goes to England for the food.

The weather was incredible. The Londoners were all in the streets, relaxed, strolling, just chilling. I adore the English. The sky in London, the air, has some individual beauty that I can’t really describe. I was so happy to be there.
What do they have in London these days? Very small cars. I mean RIDICULOUSLY small cars. The Smart car, which you may have heard about. A tiny Mercedes, which is baffling to see. It seems like every car company is falling all over themselves trying to make a tiny car, one-upping each other on smallness. These cars make a Mini Cooper look like a ’76 Oldsmobile. And as always, there’s lots of original Mini Cooper from the 50’s and 60’s, which are so small you could fit two of them into the new Mini.
I spent the day wandering around looking at small cars, and then I went to the Tate Modern and saw the Edward Hopper exhibition, which was great, but really crowded. The Luc Tuymans show was nearly deserted, and fascinating.
What a fantastic museum; I was sighing with joy in every room. So beautifully curated, such a great mixture of old and new. I felt like I did when I was a kid going to amusement parks, when I would think: surely this is what real life should be like.
I wandered along the river after dark, past St. Paul’s, and the London Eye, and Parliament. What a gorgeous city.
I have this persistent problem when I’m in places I love; I obsessively plot how I’m going to move there. I get so wrapped up in plotting that I have to tell myself, Easy, Mike: we’re here NOW. Let’s enjoy it RIGHT NOW rather than obsess on how to enjoy it in the future.
I went to Muji and stocked up on pens and notebooks, went to Tesco and bought two liters of English lemonade, and then I flew home.