Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alone in London

Being alone in a strange city may not be unnerving to most people, and when it happened to me, I thought nothing of it--for awhile. Since I hadn't slept the night before the Paris trip, I knew I couldn't go. All day sightseeing, no place to lay my head when sleeplessness caught up with me. It would ruin the trip for the others so I chose to stay at the hotel.

They left at 4:45. I dressed at 5:45, went downstairs and paid for computer time, (7 pounds for 45 minutes), wrote emails then had breakfast at the hotel at 6:30. I was able to sleep from 7:45 until 10:30 and when I woke up, I wished I could magically join my family in Paris. Since that couldn't happen, I walked to Starbuck's instead, sat out on the sidewalk and watched London life go by.

A truck picking up large containers of garbage, "City of Westminster Clean Streets" emptied one of the few trash containers available on the streets of the city.

A young man came out of Starbuck's carrying two coffees in one hand, one stacked on top of the other, with a cell phone to his ear in the other hand. (It's no different there. Everyone has a cell phone.) He put the coffees on a table, continued to talk on the phone and lit a cigarette. (Since July, 2007, no smoking inside buildings in England.) A friend came, grabbed one of the coffees and went to catch the bus that was pulling up to the stop on the curb. The young man said good-bye, turned off his phone as he walked to the the bus, took one more drag on the cigarette and dropped it to the sidewalk. As he got on the bus an older little man came upon the still smoking cigarette, picked it up and held it toward the man on the bus. With a broad smile he seemed to be saying, "What luck!" and walked away smoking it.

He wasn't the only person I saw finding something and taking it for his own. A man in the tube found a mint on the platform, put it in his hand and after studying it for a second, popped it into his mouth. I have no way of knowing if it had fallen from someone's mouth, or his own, or was brand new. At any rate, it didn't stand a chance with this guy around.

An older, rather paunchy man got off one bus, his jacket buttoned wrong, longer on the left and hiked up on the right side. It worked well for him since he easily put his hand in his right pants pocket.

After finishing my coffee and reluctant to go back to the hotel room, I walked a bit in the neighborhood. It was sunny and warm, a lovely day to stroll the streets. A young Londoner asked me for directions and laughed when I told him I didn't know anything. He could easily see I wasn't a local. I passed St. George's Catholic School that had a sign stating the school was inspired by gospel values. After a lunch in the hotel I went back to my room, lonely and wishing I could hear a friendly voice. Although the price wasn't right, I called my daughter in Las Vegas, and after talking to her, I knew I'd make it the rest of the day.

I read English newspapers and watched TV (Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote, and a recap of Sunday's NFL games)I napped a bit and managed to make it until Reid came back around 11:00 that night.

Being alone is all right for a little while, but it can become too much after awhile--at least for me. I wouldn't make a good hermit. I talk to myself as it is, and with no one around, pretty soon I'd be answering.


  1. You will look back on this "alone in London" day with warm memories. I have had solo days in Paris, Boston, LA, San Francisco, Chicao and New York, just to mention a few. I have treasured the time to just dawdle and stroll. The world needs more dawdling and strolling time! Savor the memories.

  2. Aren't people funny. When they don't know anyone is looking and they act "naturally" it can provide hours of entertainment and volums of novels. When I am asked where would be my 1st place to vacation I say "home". I love to have no where to go, no one to see and anything I want to do.