London I missed you! Where else in Europe can one have fresh sushi and peeled edamame beans every day for lunch at every street corner? Where else can one have Korean food in a restaurant filled with Koreans, and a choice of 30+ stylish rooftop bars and restaurants, and get lost in Central Park? Or always find comfortable high-heeled shoes for sale at Clark’s, and afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream and jam in any fancy hotel or restaurant?
And where else do I feel tired after dragging my suitcase through the tube stairs and escalators, get mud on my pants because of oily rainwater splashes from the street, and feel underdressed at a City restaurant where everybody else is a slick banker?
And most of all, which other European city lives under severe immiment terror threat, with machine-gun armed guards at railway stations, police everywhere, and people going on with their busy lives as usual? Not because they do not think of the realities, but because many are a generation grown up under the frequent IRA bombings and attacks lasting from 1970 to 2001. That’s 31 years of fear and uncertainty.
And yet, like it has been for 150 years, Claridge’s is serving afternoon tea from bone china every day. This imperturbable attitude is quintessential for the English. Keep calm and have a scone.
(London, United Kingdom; June 2015)