Monday, July 28, 2008

England Trip - July 28th, 1983

Our last day in London for a few weeks and the suggested schedule was light - go to the London Museum. I don't think I went there. I don't remember the London Museum at all. This may be the day I stopped in Harrod's department store and browsed around. I had the notion to purchase the British version of Monopoly but changed my mind. I don't remember purchasing anything but I definitely recall that I walked to Kensington in the afternoon. Our little corner of the city on Old Brompton road became quite familiar, especially the section between the South Kensington station and the hotel. There was a luggage store where I bought an extra carry-on bag to tote my goodies to the states. There was a take-away pizza shop that made the absolute worst pizza in the British empire. I made better pizza from the box myself at home in the dark than the slice I purchased later that night after Marc and I spent the evening at Covent Garden, but more about that in a moment. The street around the corner from the Onslow court also featured a chemist, a record store, where I monitored the top of the British pop charts as displayed there. The top three artists that summer were not yet familiar in America: Wham, Paul Young, and Yazoo. Everybody knows Wham now and Paul Young scored a U.S. hit later in the decade with "Every Time You Go Away". Yazoo, or Yaz, didn't crack the pop charts in the U.S. though we had their records at the college station.

Marc and I ventured down to a night club district we heard about - Covent Garden. Its the same section where the Opera House was and where Audrey Hepburn sold flowers to Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. There was lots of action there and I recall being in a crowded outdoor beer garden where one bartender yelled "Next Victim" each time he served another customer. I dug those pint glasses with the little bulges at the top. American beer was a distant memory. The Brits had the edge. We talked to a local who advised us that not all places closed at 11 o'clock. There were certain clubs in the city that stayed open late under some kind of loophole, but we chose not to go. We'd been reminded by our tour guides that we departed for Canterbury in the morning by coach. We returned to the hotel after stopping for wretched pizza and took in a little BBC on the tele. The hotels in England had four channels in the summer of 1983. That's it and they shut down between midnight and 1am each night with a full band version of God Save the Queen, known in America as, well, America the Beautiful. Then a BBC announcer politely reminded me to switch off my set, which I did, and went to sleep at the Onslow Court hotel.

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