by Max Brantley
Max here, in London, soon to depart for Heathrow and a flight home. It's time.
I set this up to post Saturday morning, if all works correctly. I thought I'd pass along a couple more travel snapshots that seemed to cover some of the incredible range of things you find in London. We arrived as the street violence continued, but it's calmer now. The newspapers are full of the aftermath, naturally. Despite what a Dover cabbie told us, the mug shots indicate plenty of "real" English were in the thick of the looting — yobs, thugs, morons and punks were among the labels tossed out by headline writers. Three victims, as it happened, were immigrant stock, innocent bystanders mowed down by a hit-and-run driver. We stayed in Kensington, where it was business as usual, with plenty of people on the streets day and night. The same in the theater district, thronged with people late Thursday night after we saw "War Horse," a hit weeper about a boy and his horse in World War I. (The two-man horses created for the show are wonders of mechanics and choreography.)
I hope to be back at work Sunday, between jet lag and laundry. For now, a tale of two Londons:
* Above is the afternoon tea at a restaurant in the gloriously restored St. Pancras Station, where the chunnel trains arrive and depart. Those are English strawberries, in season now from Kent along with raspberries. They weren't as sweet as the best Arkansas berries, but they tasted like the real thing, not the clods of red cellulose typically shipped from California. We don't have anything to match the clotted cream, however.
* The shot below goes out to state Rep. Tracy Steele, who moved in the last legislative session to ban saggy pants, at least on school property. There's just no holding back fashion, Rep. Steele. Here, the undershorts on display were spotted in a nice gastropub, otherwise filled with suited English office workers at lunch hour, about a block down the street from Buckingham Palace. (Pretty nice digs. We strolled through the public rooms, open for the summer season with the queen off in Scotland or somewhere, as well as the back yard, or garden, as her majesty likes to call it.)