London – Day 5


After a quick breakfast (at the pub— again) we set off. We got in line behind the other tourists and waited.

““Westminster Abbey!”” the Generalissimo said. The people near us in line took an instinctive step back. “”Only a precious few who have been offered eternal sanctuary here declined it! Winston Churchill! Florence Nightingale! And of course, the Generalissimo!””

““The Queen of England never offered to let you be buried here,”” I said. “”It’’s only for British subjects.””

“”That’’s what I told her! Then she reminded me: I am a citizen of the world!””

I’’d had four pints with breakfast, so I stopped caring long enough to get inside. They used two entrances on opposite sides of the Great North Door. One was for credit cards only, the other was cash. We went right. Picked the correct line for once.

I’’d promised my long-suffering wife that I’’d try to find one of her relatives who had a monument somewhere in the Abbey. Turned out to be just inside the door on our side. If we’’d been in the cash line, I’’d have missed it. The monument talked about her ancestor’’s “assistance” to the local prostitutes, but made no mention of his proclivity toward umbrellas, which I’’m told he is credited with popularizing in London. I took a quick snapshot. Five feet later we reached a sign that had been obscured by the people in line in front of us. No photography please. Ooops. Timing, as they say…

Not sure what I was expecting to find inside, which explains why it met those expectations. I looked around Poet’’s Corner and found some writers whose work I admired. Went outside to the courtyard. Ate a cherry muffin while the Generalissimo had a staring contest with one of the statues. Said he was preparing for a rematch with someone we’’d see tomorrow. I shrugged. I hit the gift shop on my way out. Pretty standard tour, really.


We walked across the Thames to the London Eye. Erected (yeah, I said erected) in 1999, it quickly became one of the many symbols dotting London’’s skyline. As always, I bought the tickets. Free trip to England my butt.

“”Come, my good friends!”” el Capitán said. He charged the ramp leading to the loading platform. The others dutifully followed. I shook my head, apologized to the Lithuanian family they’’d trampled, and went in pursuit. I got into the capsule just before the door closed.

“”You made it!”” el Capitán said, slapping me on the back hard enough to dislodge my spleen. “”Come! Let us enjoy this stunning view!”” We’’d traveled all of three feet. All I could see from my perch was the Lithuanian family beating their fists against the capsule two feet from my nose. “”We have thirty minutes of alone time with which to ponder its magnificence!””

Thirty minutes, locked in an air conditioned Plexiglas bubble. With them. The other ten passengers tried to blend into the transparent walls on the far side of the capsule. When the Generalissimos and the Capitáns split up and headed their way, the passengers scrambled over one another to hop the central bench. A little old lady cold cocked a twenty-something man to get him out of her way. Love to tell you this was the first time that had happened…

We made it to the top of the rotation without incident. The ride down was another story.

“”Avast!”” el Capitán cried.

We followed his pointed finger. Perched on one of the frame rails between us and the next capsule was a pigeon.

““Someone’’s cherished pet!”” the Generalissimo said. ““I shall rescue it!””

“Ah, crap,”” I moaned.

The sticker on the door said not to lean on it. Didn’’t say anything about ramming it at full speed. It popped open. I thought for sure the Generalissimo was done for this time, as I felt confident a 443-foot fall would kill even him. But he surprised me once again, lashing out and grasping the doorjamb as he fell like he’’d been planning it all along. He launched himself sideways to the nearest frame rail.

““Do not be afraid, little birdie! It is I! The Generalissimo! I will save you!””

We’’d drawn a crowd, both in the capsules around us and the ground below. He didn’’t notice. He jogged along the rail, chest puffed out, medals clanking, head held high.

The pigeon didn’’t appear to like this turn of events, and flittered off.

“”Drat! I have spooked it! Come, young Thurman! We must corner it!””

I stuck my head out the door into the wind. ““Hell no! Now leave the rat with wings alone and get your monkey ass back in here!””

“”That’s the spirit!””

He spent the next ten minutes using the London Eye as his own personal jungle gym as he chased that poor pigeon. The Capitáns clapped and cheered. The Generalissima did her nails. I tried to calculate the amount of bail we’’d need this time. Eventually the bird got tired of the game and simply flew away into the distance. The Generalissimo returned, just in time to have his picture taken before the gendarmes arrived to haul us all away.


“”Can I go now?”” I asked for the fifth time.

“”Not until you answer our questions.”” Pretty sure the guy doing the talking was MI5. His partner in the corner pretended to pick his nails with a Fairbairn-Sykes knife. Pretty sure he was MI6.

“”I already answered them,”” I said. Again. “”The Generalissimo saw a bird. He said he needed to rescue it. He went outside and chased it. When it inevitably flew away, he came back, then you arrested us.””

“”We have no record of anyone named Generalissimo entering the country. Is that what you and the rest of your cell call your leader?””


““He thinks you’re a terrorist!”” the Generalissimo said.

“”You’’re damn right I do.”” He did a double take. ““Wait…how the bloody hell did you get in here?””

“”I could tell you, but then young Thurman would have to kill you!”” He grinned under that bushy mustache. “”Come, my young friend! We have sights to see! Evil to fight! Women to ravage! Pastries to consume in the name of science! And love! Love I say!”” He saluted. Then he left. When I didn’’t follow, he came back. “”It is not polite to make an old man wait!””

I held up my wrists, as far as I could under the circumstances. The chain holding my cuffs to the floor only let my hands get a few inches above the table.

“”You are under arrest?!”” he said. He scratched his brow, knocking his leather helmet askew.

“”As are you!”” MI5 guy yelled.

““Indeed! I threw myself on the mercy of her majesty! She is an old family friend! And a dear friend to pigeons everywhere! I salute her!”” He saluted. “”She secured our release!””

““Oh, God…”” I said.

“”Come! We must continue the adventure! Elsewhere!””


The blokes at Scotland Yard were less than pleased to see us go. On the way to our next destination, I caught two unmarked cars tailing us. Note to Scotland Yard: tailing pedestrians in a car in the middle of the day is not the subtlest thing in the world. Though that may have been their intent.

The Tipperary is noted as being the very first place to pull a pint of Guinness outside of Ireland, so of course I had to go. Had a pint. Then left. Not much of a pub, really.

Then we went across the street to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Now that’’s a pub. It’’s down a dark pedestrian alley. It’’s small. It feels dank. They serve lots of beers I’’d never heard of. Perfect.

I had the bangers and mash. Lovely. I also had a pint of Samuel Smith Extra Stout. Also lovely. The others did the same. I even tried the spotted dick. Not bad. Then I ordered a round of bitters and had them delivered to the cops tailing us.

“”Think they’’ll drink it?”” I asked.

“”I would!”” el Capitán said.

“”To Scotland Yard!”” the Generalissima said. “”May their livers never falter in their sworn duty to the crown!””

“”Long live the Queen!”” la Capitán said.

““Cheers!”” el Capitán said.

“”Don’’t eat yellow snow!”” the Generalissimo added.

We drank. We were merry.


We hit the hotel. My room had been searched, I’’m guessing by morons. Another note to Scotland Yard: if you want someone to go back into their routine so you can catch them doing something naughty, it’’s best not to let them know you’’re following them around, tossing their rooms, and bugging the house phone they have no intention of using. Just a thought.

Someone knocked on my door. I opened it, expecting a pair of Bobbies to come in and give me a body cavity search. Turned out it was just the Generalissimo.

“”Dinner?”” I said.

“”Not yet! We have a mission of utmost important to accomplish!””

“”And the others?””

“”They’’ve gone to see the London production of Wicked!””

I’’d seen Les Misérables on my last trip to London. Got a nice seat behind a post that blocked half the stage. Best two hours of sleep I got on that trip.

“”What’’s the mission?”” I said, knowing that I’’d come to regret it.

He bobbed his eyebrows. I deflated. A promise is a promise. Damn.

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