In London, There Are Many, Many People (And At Least One Stuffed Monkey)

Apr 27, 2011

Greetings! Cheerio! Tally-ho! Other annoying tourist-y sayings that will get me punched!

I have arrived in London, where I will be until Saturday, checking out the town and the whoop-dee-doo surrounding the Royal Wedding on Friday. (In case you haven't heard, Prince William is getting married. Probably you've heard.)

So far, I have to concur with those who have noted that London is not, in fact, in any particularly giant tizzy, as of 48 hours before the big event.

I'm pretty centrally located near the river, where I must admit there are a lot of people around. (Some of those those people occasionally do silly things. I think the folks who were inspired to simultaneously turn and take photos of the clock tower as Big Ben bonged away will really enjoy my audio recordings of the Mona Lisa.)

I think I have already walked through about four thousand people's photos (sorry, people!), but there is literally no way to get from one place to another except through people's photo opportunities. Not because of the wedding, but just because of London, I think.

Certainly, the little area where you wait in line for the London Eye is overrun, and there seems to be some spillover to nearby attractions like the Aquarium (I had the pleasure of hearing a kid say, "I KNOW where the Aquarium is, Dad — I'm a Jedi").

But other than souvenir shops, which are thick on the ground near me — I think I saw four during a two-block walk hunt for a blasted plug adapter after realizing I brought the wrong one — you wouldn't necessarily know that there's anything out of the ordinary happening this week.

Based on the enthusiasm on the part of American cable networks and syndicated entertainment news programs, I half expected to see the coffee places selling Royal Vanilla Lattes or some such, and while I'm sure there's some of that, I haven't seen much in my early travels around town. (Which were, I should say, more extensive than necessary owing to my freakish ability to walk the wrong direction in any situation in which I am forced to intuit whether I should go left or right, and screwing up is much more dangerous when you can't just cut in any direction at any time owing to certain geographical features of the local area YES THAMES I AM LOOKING AT YOU.)

At the souvenir shops, though, it is, to use a less than royal expression, completely crazypants. There are cookie tins, mugs, plates large and small, mugs, flags — and as for the accusations that this is all for hyper-romantic women, I saw a perfectly ordinary-looking dad-aged guy buy a Kate and William flag that he is, I presume, planning to wave. (Although he turned down the offer of a few yards of Kate and William bunting to hang from wherever.)

I was kind of amused by the ads that Heathrow has in the Underground that say, basically, "Partly because of several holidays happening close together but partly just BECAUSE, this is a great time to not be in town."

At any rate, more digging tomorrow. At the moment, I am having some tea and enjoying the wonders of British television which, as you can imagine, I find kind of fascinating. I mean, we see special worthwhile or otherwise noteworthy British television, but I am learning what workaday British TV looks like.

(I am, among other things, learning to play along with a lot of new game shows.)

(And also being surprised that my hotel has a channel that literally called "Adult Filth," though I assure you I am not watching it.)

As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @nprmonkeysee, where I provide additional updates as opportunities present themselves. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit