Tourists. Oh, the irony! And the worst ones aren't even the Americans. It's the hordes of Japanese ones that spring fully formed from the sidewalks in packs of ten. Then they proceed to block all of the crosswalks while waiting for the lights. Jaywalking is a way of life here, people. Look around. Adapt to it. They also stop in the middle of the escalators in the tube stations and noisily ponder their lostness. Observe the signs, please. Stand on the right. Walk on the left. Londoners are busy people, and if you don't get out of the way, they might miss their train and have to wait a whole two minutes for the next one.
Antipodeans. Now, don't get me wrong, not every Australian or Kiwi is an antipodean. They're a very specific type. As our friend Ian, who happens to be Australian, puts it, "They come here, they make three quid an hour slinging beer in the pub. When they're not working, they're sitting in the pub drinking beer and bitching about how awful England is. When they're not sitting in the pub, they're outside being very fucking loud and puking on your shoes." Or, in the case of a girl that Marco and I had the misfortune to be sat near on the bus, repeating the three or four Spanish curse words that she knew over and over again and acting like it was the most novel thing ever that the only words a person should know in a language were the foul ones. Shut up, lady, and act like what you are. DUMB LIKE ROCK.
Mexican food. As in, there isn't any. Give it a couple of months, and I'll probably be willing to trade my left arm for a bean-n-cheese burrito from a –berto's. I don't even need the "hassase." We went to a Mexican restaurant here once. They served us supermarket crisps that had been burnt in an oven and pasta sauce. If anyone wants to win my love forever when they visit from California, they can bring a bottle of decent salsa with them.
Manchester United fans. I've met exactly one Manchester United fan who was living in London who was actually from Manchester. The rest of them? Antipodeans.
Crossing the Thames. The most major fault in the London public transport system. It's difficult to go south of the river without changing from the bus to the tube, or from the tube to the overground trains. And attempting to do it on the weekends or past about nine p.m.? Forget it.
Public transport. I am so happy not to have to own or drive a car. The buses are buses are where it's at. They are frequent, reliable and cheap and they run all night. The tube is not as cheap or reliable and it stops at midnight, but it is faster than the buses when you need to go a longer distance.
Walking. I can walk to get just about anything I need for the house. I see so much when I walk. I can stop to take pictures. I can mosey, or I can charge off down the sidewalk and weave my way between the tourists.
Beer. All right, so I was fond of beer before I got here. However, the beer here is cheap, plentiful AND tasty. I also love the pint glasses with the official crown stamp, certifying its volume. My beer has been approved by the Queen! Same goes for the cider.
English food. It's gotten a bad rap. It really has. It's optimally constructed to maintain heat for as long as possible, and it delivers the kind of caloric punch you need after walking around outside in the cold all day. Take the pasty, for instance. It has fat layers of flaky crust. Even when the outside of it has gone cold, the meaty interior is still piping hot. Ahhh.
Malt vinegar. Specifically, malt vinegar and chips. Malt vinegar needs to catch on in the US, like, immediately.
Biscuits. Entire aisles in the grocery stores are dedicated to the mighty biscuit. In the US, they'd probably be called either crackers or cookies. There are sweet biscuits, savory biscuits, biscuits with creamy filling, crunchy biscuits, chewy biscuits, biscuits with nuts and even biscuits involving alcoholic flavorings. I have yet to meet a biscuit that I didn't like.
Diversity. Ethnic and cultural mixing is a reality in London. I can't speak for the rest of England, as I haven't spent enough time there to know. However, you don't have to go out of your way here to have friends and acquaintances from a multitude of nationalities and racial backgrounds. You can see a woman, fully covered except for the eyes, standing next to a teenage girl in a microscopic skirt, puffy jacket and ankle boots in zero degree weather. It's difficult to know which one is more provocative, or more appealing. I've had trouble walking into a bar or a pub and finding another American, aside from Marco. Also, dreadlocks are not unusual here, even among professional people. It's unlikely that I'd be asked to cut them for a job.
Free stuff. So many marvelous things here are free. The excellent library system (at least in my borough), a large percentage of the museums, the parks, the cemeteries, the churches and of course, if you get tired, you can always sit in Trafalgar Square. There is never a lack of things to do and see, even if you don't have much in the way of disposable income.
Sunday. It's actually a day of rest! Most shops are closed and services unavailable. Only the pubs are open. You go to one of the open-air markets and browse. You have your pints and your Sunday roast, or, if you're lucky and you've got friends who make Sunday roast, you go to theirs and have your whiskey and roast. You watch footie or play video games or read. You go to bed early. That's how Sunday should be. I'm converted.