London – Day 1


“You should come! It will be glorious!”

He had to be kidding. Much as I wanted to take an all expenses paid trip to London, the last thing I wanted to do was spend the week with him.

“And the Generalissima will be accompanying us! You two don’t spend enough time together! She’s been meaning to speak to you about that!”


Which is how I found myself on a non-stop flight from Seattle to London on British Airways. The Generalissima was nowhere to be found. The Generalissimo took the window seat, and I took the aisle. The open spot between us was actually his seat, but he liked watching the clouds and telling me what they looked like.

“That one is a flamingo eating a doughnut!”

I tried to get comfortable, but British Airways seemed to think that coach seats should be the same size as the ones you used in second grade. No amount of adjusting it would make me fit properly.

I slept through a good portion of the flight, but the Generalissimo did not. Periodically I’d awake to the sounds of the flight attendants yelling at him to, “Sit the hell down, sir.” His counterpart, the Generalissima, eventually came down for breakfast. Apparently she’d been flying the plane. Explained the barrel roll over Greenland.

“I ordered you a special meal!” the Generalissimo said to me.

“Oh, goody.” The attendant handed me a tray filled with the same prepackaged food that everyone else was getting. I cocked an eyebrow at the Generalissimo.

“It’s fine! You’ll like it!”

“It’s a piece of bread, a cup of coffee, an wet nap.”


I ate. The coffee was foul; there’s no other word for it. Bitter, sour, and made from what I assumed to be overcooked coffee beans that had already been used at least once.

“How was your breakfast?!” he asked. I think he was smiling under that mustache. No real way to tell.

“It was…” How does one describe something so bland as to defy description? “It was fine.” It wasn’t even related to fine.

The Generalissima came on the PA and scared the hell out of the other passengers with her talk of “villainous customs forms” and the need to be “forever vigilant when dealing with those wretched gnomes at baggage claim.” I wasn’t paying much attention, because for the first time since I was twelve, I was feeling somewhat motion sick. Then it occurred to me: I wasn’t motion sick. The Generalissimo’s special meal wasn’t agreeing with me. Not even a little.

“It is okay to be green, young Thurman!” the Generalissimo cried.

I reached for a baggie. Not a second too soon. Note to self: British Airways is to food poisoning as Nemo’s is to carrot cake. Unexpected and most foul.


I took a second baggie with me from the plane. If it weren’t for that nice young woman who claimed to be a physician sitting near me, I might not have made it. The Generalissimo generously offered to get my bags, on the condition that I rent the car.

“We’re not renting a car,” I said.

The man’s mouth fell open. “How can this be? Do you not want to experience driving on the wrong side of the road

“Not right now.”

He shrugged. I went to the machine and got three one-way tickets on the Tube. He arrived ten minutes later with the bags and the Generalissima, who’d changed out of her flight suit and into a skintight purple one-piece that I was pretty sure she’d made herself. I looked away. Not an image I wanted in my head if at all possible.


Our hotel was the City Inn Westminster, just a few blocks from Westminster Abbey and Parliament. We popped out of the ground with our bags and walked. The temperatures were in the low eighties, which wasn’t agreeing with my Pacific Northwest acclimation.

The City Inn was a nice enough place, but the first thing I noticed when we got to our room was the lack of a clock. Apparently the British don’t need to know what time it is. Bully for them. The Generalissimo and his counterpart were staying next door. We agreed to meet in two hours to get some dinner, not that my stomach was all that thrilled with the idea.

I tried to get some rest. Lasted all of five minutes before I heard the shouting next door. Then banging on the wall. It was rhythmic. I almost went over to find out what the heck they were up to, but then I heard the Generalissima moan. May have been the Generalissimo. All I know is I put my earplugs in and went to bed.


The walk to the Westminster Tube station was…uneventful, so long as you don’t count a few thousand people staring at a crazy man in a leather helmet wearing his mirrored sunglasses at night. In that case, it was quite the event. The cops guarding the street entrance to Parliament lost their composure as we passed, which was nothing compared to what happened next.

“El Capitán!”


I looked up from the guidebook I’d been cowering behind. Ten feet in front of us stood a man and woman. Took me a few seconds to come to grips with it all. The man wore a beige dress uniform. She had on the matching flight suit. I guessed they were the Italian equivalent of my traveling companions, even though his bright red shock of hair (and the matching goatee) had me thinking they were Scottish. You can understand my confusion, as his accent was also Scottish.

They saluted. The crowds on the street took many steps back. Smart move. I even took a few back.

“Young Thurman!” the Generalissimo said once he released his salute. “I would like to introduce you to our good friends! El Capitán!”

“A pleasure!” El Capitán barked. He held out his hand. I took it. He squeezed it, shook it up and down once, then let go. Very German, really.

“And this is his counterpart, La Capitán!”

“Buon giorno!” She came over, gave me a hug, and tried to bite my ear.

“Um….” I disengaged as quickly as possible.

“Are you in town for long!” the Generalissimo said after he explained my presence.

“A week!” el Capitán said.

“Indeed! As are we!”

“Where are you staying!”

“The City Inn!”

“As are we!”

“Ah, crap,” I said.


We had dim sum for dinner. El Capitán apparently named one of his cats Dim Sum, believing that all pets should be named after food.

“Just in case we find ourselves fighting the ultimate battle!” he cried. “If the provisions run dry, and it becomes necessary to eat our pets, it will be easier if they are not named Fluffy, but Taco Salad!”

“Okay…” I said. Not sure what the proper response is to something like that.

“What is on your agenda, Generalissimo!”

“We have much to discover about this fair land! About its culture! Its plentiful bounty of historical insignificance!”


They raised their glasses in salute to one another. I ate another pork bun and tried to blend into the wall. Didn’t work.

And so the adventure began. Seven days, six nights. And apparently, two additional fruit loops to share it with. I wasn’t sure if this was gonna be fun, or something else. On the plus side, I was pretty sure my stomach was done making deposits in the toilet. For now.

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