London – Day 4


The Generalissima was spending the day with some of her flight school pals at an “undisclosed location.” The Capitáns wanted to see a display of post-war propaganda comics at the Cartoon Museum. Which left me to chaperone the Generalissimo.

“It will be grand! Two hip bachelors! Out on the town!”


Neither of us was a bachelor, but confusing him ran the risk of spending an hour or two listening to him try and convince me otherwise.

First stop after another breakfast at the pub was the Tate Modern. A quick trip on the Tube to the Mansion House station, followed by a stroll along the Thames to the Millennium Bridge.


He seemed taken with the bridge. No idea why, until he told me.

“I designed it!”


“You did not.”


“I did!”


He didn’t. I’m not a fan of modern art. I took three classes in college, an all I learned was that if you wanted to get an A, all you had to do was tell the TA that you were an art major. If you told them you were getting an art minor, you got a B. I told my TAs I was taking it for a General Education requirement. I got Cs until I changed it to a “minor.” My younger brother got As. He owes me.

I do rather enjoy René Magritte, but the only piece of his they had on display wasn’t one of his best. The Warhol’s were about what you’d expect. They did have a nice Marcel Duchamp on glass hat I’d read about in school. Seemed cooler in person. Less abstract. I still wouldn’t pay money for one, but then again, my tastes tend to run toward the velvet Elvis end of the spectrum.


“See this!” he yelled. The docents shushed him, not that he noticed. “This is the Generalissima’s mother!”


Picasso’s Nude Woman With Necklace. The Generalissima’s mother either had two of the most uneven breasts on the planet, or Picasso had visual Tourette’s.

“Come! I think I see a velvet Elvis!”




We were in town, just in time for the annual Taste of Spain celebration on Regent Street. They shut the whole thing down for the sake of pedestrians who were scheduled to pack the festival. I heard they were making two giant paellas, which would be handed out for free to any and all who stopped by.


Unfortunately, we were three hours early, and no amount of giant paella would be able to sate all ten thousand people who roamed the street.



“Please excuse me, young Thurman! I must dance!”

I looked over as he dashed toward one of the many stages set up for entertainment. A troupe of musicians played traditional. The Generalissimo forced his way through the throngs until he reached the stage. He shook his moneymaker out of time to the music. Then he started doing the moonwalk. Lovely.


The crowd didn’t know if they should clap or jeer. So they clapped. I left. Went around the corner to a bookstore and found two YA thrillers in Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series that hadn’t come out in the U.S. just yet. Then I got on the tube and went home. The Generalissimo would call if he needed bail money.




I decided to try my luck at McDonalds. Yeah, I know, McDonalds is the root of al evil, just like Starbucks, but I’m always curious to see how the tastes translate in another country.


The Brazilians seem to like their burgers bland (and they don’t let their fingers come into direct contact with their food as they eat). The French, well, they’re French, and their opinion of what makes a proper hamburger should be ignored. The Germans try hard, but don’t seem to get it.


A burger is a sacred thing. The meat should be flavorful. The bun should be soft. The veggies should be crisp. The dressing (if any) should complement, not overpower. In-N-Out gets it right. Frank’s Nationwide Freezer Meats in Sacramento has no equal. The Pick Quick Drive-in in Fife, Washington? Magnificent.


McDonalds in London is…eh. The Big Mac was like the ones back home, but less, if that makes any sense. Their fries were sublime, however. Firm, with a crunchy shell that yielded its creamy inner core with aplomb. The flavor was spot on. No idea where they get their potatoes, but we should get them at home.



We regrouped that evening at the hotel bar before heading out for dinner. The Generalissimo was still dancing, or maybe he was recovering from an electro shock treatment. Hard to tell. The Capitáns were obviously drunk. And the Generalissima couldn’t stop talking about the Harrier jump jet she and her flight school friends “borrowed” from the RAF that morning.


We took the District Line east to Whitechapel. Not the best part of town, but no one in their right mind would try and play with my companions. I followed as they cut a swath through the locals. Maybe it was the way they goose-stepped in synch to one another. Maybe it was their pressed uniforms. Maybe it was the sunglasses they wore at night.


Maybe it was the Generalissimo singing Sir Mix-a-lot’s Baby Got Back at the top of his lungs.


We stopped at a place called New Tayyab. The guidebook said it was the best Indian/Pakistani food in town. Later on a friend of mine confirmed the guidebook’s rating, and in London, that’s saying something.


I got the Mutton Tikka appetizer. Fantastic. Then the Saag Gosht. I tend to sweat at the first signs of movement, but never like this. The heat wasn’t painful, but constant. Ever present. Unrelenting. Superb.


“A toast!” el Capitán proclaimed.


“To what, my love?!” la Capitán said.


“To the Generalissimo!”


“Um, why?” I asked.


“He has conquered his fear of subways!”


I turned to him. “You’re afraid of subways?”


“Indeed,” he said. “Indeed.”

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