Parting Shots – Goodbye to London

I’m on my way back home to Canada – but I can’t help but leave you with a few more true stories of the strange things I’ve seen here in England.

Homeless Dog Sitter – we were outside of the V&A Museum (wonderful museum – highly recommend it), there’s a nice pedestrian area there that makes for very pleasant walking. It was right around 6:30 – and we saw the absolute strangest thing. An apparently homeless man was sitting with his arms around a large brown dog, holding a sign. “Just a man and his dog – Please be generous”. Ok – seen that before. But here’s the odd part. As we watched, another man, wearing a nice coat and looking quite established walked up to the man – no words were exchanged – but the man took out from under his coat a leash, a harness, and a dog jacket – proceeded to put the jacket on the dog, add the leash and harness – and then walked away. The homeless man turned around, and flipped over his sign.

What do you think that was all about?

Ok – Subway manners. In Korea they have signs indicating the locations sections of the metro cars designated for the older, the pregant, or the infirm. If someone sits in one of these sections by accident – the proper occupants will hiss at them to move away. Totally works. In London – it’s a bit different. The seats nearest the doors are all marked as special seating – it’s emblazoned on the backrests – and sometimes on the the window. But you don’t know where the doors will end up, so you are often trying to guess where to stand. But that’s not the subject of this story. I need a seat on the subway – the jerky motion makes my knees ache – so I always try for a seat – and I don’t mind asking someone who looks young and healthy – but has decided to sit in the special seats to get up. Not everyone who needs a seat is that forceful however – and we boarded a subway car with another older woman. I asked a young man to get up – which he did. Across from him – also sitting in a seat designated for older, pregant, or infirm – was another younger gentleman holding a briefcase. He made eye contact with the other older woman – and proceeded to shut his eyes and clutch his briefcase to his chest – faking sleep.

Really – you can’t be bothered to get up – and you are willing to fake sleep to aoid it?

Ok – Subway manners again. Remember that the special seats are for older folks, infirm – or pregant. But how do you know a woman is pregant? When I was in the market stall at Fenchurch Station – I noticed young women – some obviously pregant, some not so obvious – sporting a button that said – “Baby on Board”. I thought – that’s funny that they all bought the same button. But my daughter tells me that I’m wrong. In fact – Doctors give their pregant patients these buttons – which are distruted by the transit authority – to allow them to claim those special seats.

How cool is that!

One last story – then I’m off to a new adventure.

Brits are amazingly polite in general. I worry for the newest generation – but generally speaking they don’t like to say no. So when I was giving out samples of Crown & Queue Sausages (, if they didn’t want to buy something – they would fake an excuse. “I don’t get paid till tomorrow”, “How late will you be here – I’ll come back after work”, “I’m going to tour the market and then come back”. The last actually wasn’t a clear no – often they did come back – which they would announce! “Hi – I’m back – and you have the best sausages”. Actually – we had just about the only air-cured dried sausages – but I agree they were awesomely good. But here’s my favorite way for Brits to say – Thanks but no Thanks. “Will you be here tomorrow/on Monday/next week?”. At first I’d honestly tell them – Yes. But I quickly realized that was just another way of saying no. So I finally started to say either “No – today is our last day”, or “We aren’t sure yet – if you want sausages – you should get them now”. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that it is possible that some people – having been called out on their polite rejection – perhaps bought a sausage. Who knows for sure!

Ok – that’s it for my report from London. I had a really great time visiting with my daughter – albeit the sleeping arrangements weren’t always the very best. We managed to spend 3 weeks in extremely close company – and didn’t kill each other. We didn’t even have a fight. Must be a record of some kind.

We did have some laughs – did some Christmas Caroling – some organized – and some in the Market Stall, and we shared a lot of meals. But most importantly – we had plenty of bonding time to talk about this and that. It was fun.

Signing off to head home,

The Soup Lady