Now if you've had enough sociology, you head for a feeding station and discover (again!) to your dismay, that a pound is worth two dollars, and that the prices are in pounds. A lot of pounds. In fact, you think you're seeing double. A slice of pizza is six pounds, that's 12 dollars. You go into a place with tablecloths, it's 40 pounds a piece, that's 80 dollars. If there are two of you, I can't even figure. My calculator just went dead. "Honey," I said to my consort, "let's lose a pound of flesh for every pound we spend. That way we'll survive and look like vixens when we leave." Tough chance. But then you don't have to go to restaurants, which have been notoriously atrocious in London since people started writing about them. You can always buy a barbecued chicken and all kinds of delicious dips and breads and wine at Tesco or Safeway, and take these to Westminster Park or any parky square and lay in the grass with the pigeons and the statues. You might even see that rarest of sights, an English jogger. White-fleshed, wrongly dressed and terribly self-conscious, he waddles by like the last Olympic torch relay. Must reach Everest peak by four, by God! Or maybe he runs for charity. Britons suffer en masse from diabetes and allergies, and their socialist medicine is in a shamble. The latest hay-fever epidemic nearly broke it. Run, funny jogger, run!
And lastly, you can concentrate on gawking only, which should fill your visual memory with Victorian buildings, wrought iron marvels like Brunel's Paddington Station, the scary Towers of London, the cathedral-like department stores, the super-snazzy deco flats on Notting Hill, and for a real nightmarish treat, the National Portrait Gallery, where you can view thousands of idealized heads of rich Britons from the past. I fled from the cornucopia to the peaceful solidity of the grand Reading Room at the British Library and sat at the leather desk where Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto, then I moved a couple of spaces down to where Lenin, under the false name of Jacob Richter, scribbled his seditious orders (funny name, Richter! Like the earthquake scale. Lenin sure caused a big one! And Jacob! There lies a book), and then found my spot finally a bit further up where Bram Stoker studied maps when he was writing Dracula. I wrote a poem on that hollowed surface and grinned.
London is far from spent, maniac-wise.