Monday, February 2, 2009

London Snow

I just got back from a walk through the snowy streets of London. I went down Upper Street to St John's, thru Smithfield to St Paul's Cathedral (when it started to snow again!), and then to Blackfriars Bridge and Victoria Embankment where I walked west to Hungerford Bridge and up to Covent Garden. There I treated myself the best cup of coffee in London (£2!) at Monmouth Coffee Roasters, popped into some shops (to get warm, of course), and then headed home. On the way home, I got a free taco from the Mexican place Mucho Mas, who had a stand outside on the sidewalk because, as they put it, we all needed free food since we couldn't go to work to earn money!

London was gorgeous in the snow, all soft edges and crunching footsteps. When the grey sky and cold precipitation, it was easy to slide back in time to the Industrial Revolution and imagine yourself part of a time long past - especially as my bum was starting to lose feeling from the cold. There are pictures from this walk, of course - here!


  1. I'm fascinated by the UK/US cultural differences reacting to the recent snow, not just the Brits not being used to it or not having the infrastructure, but for example, I read that primary schools remain closed for a third day because the playgrounds are icy and they're afraid not that kids will hurt themselves falling, but that they might throw ice at each other. And that UK drivers use their parking (hand?) brakes even at stoplights, so that obviously doesn't help in snow. Have you noticed anything else like that? You seem to be enjoying kinds of differences in a kind, unsnarky way! Thanks for the blog.

  2. Hi! Thanks for reading! I'm always excited to meet new readers who are following my blog.

    You've actually hit upon something I was discussing with someone the other day, which is the protectiveness of the British state. It's been called by some natives a nanny-state, but it's worthwhile to remember it does have much heavier socialist leanings than the US. There are many more rules and many more government regulations in the US. So if something goes wrong in America, people blame the government but in an obtuse way, and only if it is a significant issue (like Katrina) does a head roll. And then, it is the head.

    Here, if something goes wrong, the entire system is to blame and entire departments come under review. The government is quick to defend itself from charges of not acting in the public interest, etc, and the media is actually quite harsh in indicting it in print.

    I haven't worked out yet what the background is that is influencing this kind of drastic finger-pointing-and-response, but I suspect it's intrinsically linked to the British class system and long history of landed gentry and working class.