Thursday, October 1, 2009

London Turns it Around


Bob contesting the origins of Bangers and Mash with the Barman at Charles Dickens' local 'The Lamb and Flag'.


I've just returned from a two week trip to London. Last time I was there was 2002 and at that time I found the place staggeringly expensive. The exchange rate was around 30c to the pound and I distinctly remember the Missus and I buying 2 tuna sandwiches and 2 coffees for around forty fucking dollars and walking out in, respectively, a fury and an apologetic smile. Despite staying with friends in Maida Vale for the duration of our stay for the low price of nothing, we got out of London as quickly as we could: every time we moved it cost us.

This recent trip was for work, although I did manage to fit in enough beer drinking to satisfy even the hardiest among us. And I discovered this: in 2009, London is cheaper than Melbourne.

There, I said it.

Sure the exchange rate is much more in our favour (around 50c to the pound), but even so, things have changed somewhere. Either Melbourne has become very expensive, or London and the UK - as a result of the GFC perhaps - has become much, much cheaper. Beer was marginally cheaper than Melbourne (around 3 quid 30p for a pint), food was cheaper (perhaps 3 quid for a large, filled baguette), travel was cheaper, books were cheaper, petrol was cheaper.

I was most pleasantly surprised. Also, the sun shone, unlike during my previous 2 visits which had me believing London was a grey, morbid shithole.

On the flip side, London public transport commuters are the most depressed, rude and stupid group of people on the face of the Earth.

27 comments:

Melba said...

Bob! I knew someone was missing!

Perseus said...

Did you do any bloody work? Cos my name is on that work tax thing you made me do... Actually, I don't even know what it was I signed. Something to do with you in England. I bet I have to pay for it somehow.

You missed my record breaking 195 comment post! If you were there, it would have hit 200.

Lewd Bob said...

I read the posts while I was away but had no time between beers to comment. I'd have made 4 comments just to annoy you.

The thing you signed was evidence that I was being paid by an Australian company, otherwise I might have been turned around at customs. Fortunately the guy was too tired to care and waved me through.

I'm glad you noticed it was me missing, Melba.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I hate England and everybody in it.

Scotland is heaps better.

squib said...

Scotland is heaps better

Yes! They have woolly bulls and whisky. What more could you ask for?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Plus, everybody in Scotland is a lunatic alcoholic, so I felt right at home.

Lewd Bob said...

Much of my ancestry is Scottish so I subconsciously despise the English too. But by God they have good pubs.

Miche said...

Bob, Must agree on the point re London commuters. Years ago I was on the Victoria Line (ugh) in 35 deg heat, and was a little under the weather*, and ended up fainting and keeling over in the middle of the carriage.

Not one person asked if I was ok.

I hate London.

*hungover as fuck

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

What are you drinking in that photo Bob, stout?

Lewd Bob said...

The only stout, Ramon. Nutritious, delicious, auspicious Guinness.

kitten said...

Perhaps they were rude because you forgot that they all line up in order of arrival at bus stops like they're in a Centrelink queue, and god forbid if you just rock up and jump on the bus like you do with Melbourne trams.

I thought the whole queuing thing was hilarious, and took photos of bus stop queues, just so I can take them out and have a good chuckle years later.

Lewd Bob said...

They certainly know how to queue at buses and cash registers, but the Tube is a different thing altogether. The pushing and shoving, the mad rush for a seat, the knocking over of little old ladies was phenomenal. Maybe when humans are underground all bets are off.

Perseus said...

I'd like an underground society. Suddenly, my lack of tanning properties will be levelled with the general community.

Desci and I could live as King and Queen, as opposed to freaky pale goths as we do in this lame above-ground world.

kitten said...

Did you go to Buckingham Palace - I think its open as the Queen is away over summer. Its not much to look at from the outside (which 99% of people do, thinking they've "seen" the palace), but its certainly spectacular inside.

And my other hot tourist tip for London, don't bother paying to see Westminster Abbey, its free to attend the church service there, and you get to sit in the same seats as Govt dignitaries during the service (which is off limits on the tour). Plus during Evensong you get to hear the Abbey choir.

Lewd Bob said...

Not this time round Kitten. I'd been to London twice before and have 'done' the sights. This time, I took great pleasure in deliberately not seeking out any tourists attractions. Instead, I occasionally stumbled across them as I careered between pubs.

If I'd sat through a church service, I doubt I could've refrained from shouting obscenities.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Bob, you sound rather like this bloke.

kitten said...

I'm not religious at all, but it seemed like an appropriate thing to do while I was there. Plus the sound of the choir echoing around the Abbey was quite amazing. Anglican services are short and not very preachy anyway, there was more singing than there was talking.

Boogeyman said...

Perseus said...

Desci and I could live as King and Queen...


You forgot to end that with... 'respectively'.


Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Scotland is heaps better.


I thought the Irish didn't much like Scots either? I always put it down to cultural rivalry as to whom could be seen as the more irrelevant race of drunken scousers with brogues thicker than Guinness-soaked peat moss.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Boogey, the Irish and Scots are united by a mutual hatred of the English.

Boogeyman said...

The Western Irish have such a delightful lilting accent. They're rather let down by their Eastern cousins, who have an accent that could grate bitumen.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

The west coast of Ireland was traditionally the area where Gaelic was most common, so that might have something to do with it.

eat my shorts said...

I'm thrilled to hear London in 2009 is cheaper than Melbourne, I hope it stays that way when I go next year.

Did I tell you? Did I tell you? I'm going to have my 30th in Paris and then live & work in the UK for a bit. It's my first overseas trip & I'm so excited it's not funny. I can't wait. I want to go NOW!

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Congrats, EMS.

I hope my opinion of London as a "hideous, hideous shithole" won't affect your experience any.

eat my shorts said...

Nah Ramon, it won't. I'm not going to be living in London anyway, I'll just be visiting it every now and again, so at least if it gives me the shits I can escape.

Lord Gravy said...

I am a London tube user and I take exception to your generalisation contained above. As a matter of fact, I am the exception: everyone else on the tube is a cunt.

Dr. Golf said...

Bob, dont take this the wrong way, but you look like a young John Williamson.

http://www.holborne.com.au/dbimages/JohnWilliamson/johnwilliamson.jpg

Lewd Bob said...

Not at all, Dr Golf. In fact, I'm flattered to be likened to someone who can come up with gold such as this (and provide a link back to Perseus' vegemite post):

Hey True Blue, don't say you've gone
Say you've knocked off for a smoko
And you'll be back la-ater on
Hey True Blue, Hey True Blue

Give it to me straight, face to face
Are you really disappearing
Just another dy-ying race
Hey True Blue

True Blue, is it me and you
Is it Mum and Dad, is it a co-ockatoo
Is it standin' by your mate when he's in a fight
Or just Vegemi-ite
True-ue-ue Blue, I'm a-asking you

Hey True Blue, can you bear the load
Will you tie it up with wire
Just to keep the show on the road
Hey True Blue
Hey True Blue, now be Fair Dinkum

Is your heart still there
If they sell us out like sponge cake
Do you rea-eally care
Hey True Blue

True Blue, is it me and you
Is it Mum and Dad, is it a co-ockatoo
Is it standin' by your mate when she's in a fight
Or just Vegemi-ite
True-ue-ue Blue, I'm a-asking you...

True Blue, is it me and you
Is it Mum and Dad, is it a co-ockatoo
Is it standin' by your mate when he's in a fi-ight
Or just Vegemi-ite
True-ue-ue Blue, True-ue-ue Blue


That would turn the biggest Un-Australians aound.