We had barely been in London for one hour when I realized that “Well, at least we speak the same language here” was debatable. Apparently, Southern Americanspeak isn’t exactly speaking English. Who knew?
England is a nation of Siri’s. They speak English, of course, but they can’t understand when it is spoken to them. It really is an odd sort of linguistic handicap on their part.
“Would you like mushy peas?” was the dead serious question at our first stop, a corner London pub that looked authentic in a well-scrubbed Epcot kind of way.
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“Do what?” I asked innocently.
The Brits are very taken with mushy peas, which is a side dish of mashed peas that taste as though they have been seasoned with the tears of a thousand Dickensian orphans. Do not eat them. Ever.
Other than that, British food was tasty, which surprised me. Once you get past the Brits’ obsessive fondness for organ meats, it’s just fine.
Tongue fritters? Oh, yes, please!
We met the rest of our “Delights of London & Paris” tour group – do not roll your eyes – that evening at a get-acquainted dinner that featured 49 tourists from all over the globe in varying degrees of severe sleep deprivation, everyone having been warned DO NOT GO TO SLEEP.
“They told me back home that I shouldn’t go to sleep,” said the woman from California. “Why can’t I go to sleep? I really want to go to sleep.”
A software engineer from Canada pined openly for his “blankie.”
“No!” I shrieked. “You can’t go to sleep! You'll be jet lagged for the rest of the trip.”
The welcome dinner dragged on with too much wine and sleep-deprived chitchat. Out of nowhere, I was the first of the 49 to crack, screaming as the complimentary tiramisu arrived: “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN'T YOU LET US GO TO BED NOW? WHAT KIND OF MONSTERS ARE YOU?”
“That was a little over the top,” whispered the California woman, who looked sympathetically at Duh Hubby and the Princess.
Other than being held hostage to welcoming dinner tiramisu, I loved our tour group experience. I had zero interest in my first trip across the pond being spent getting lost again and again as we confused Staffordshire with Hamletshire and That’s-so-Ravenshire.
The next morning, a miracle: All 49 of us were completely rested and refreshed with nary a hint of jet lag. God bless us, everyone! We cheerily waded through a buffet of organ meats at the hotel and piled onto the enormous bus that would take us to stops at Parliament-Big Ben-Westminster Abbey-St. Luke’s Cathedral-Buckingham Palace and, finally, Windsor Castle. Our guide taught at Oxford and knew a ton of stuff about the royal family, but I can’t remember much because I was distracted by a slight sausage reflux issue. Windsor was gorgeous but the Queen wasn’t home, so it was kind of a wasted trip in my mind. I had so much I wanted to ask her about the inbred royalty thing. Maybe next time.