An American in London

Every time I find myself strolling the streets of London, as I did for a few days in early December while in town to attend the annual Christmas dinner, I inevitably end up whistling Sting’s ‘Englishman in New York’. Odd as it may be, I revel in my (admittedly very geeky) inversion of the song’s conceit. 

I’m an American in London. I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien. You can hear it in my accent when I talk. I like my toast done on both sides.

I arrived in London just as the world was beginning to hear about the Omicron variant, slightly nervous because of that, but determined to make the most of my time in a city I hadn’t visited since 2015.

As on that previous trip, my first impression of the city consisted of a skyline continuing to evolve, with myriad buildings in various states of construction and completion. Given the infrequency of my visits, I suppose I should resign myself to a perpetual sense of architectural change in central London.

Once released from my post-flight, pre-COVID-test-result isolation, a stroll across Hyde Park (under darkening, but mostly blue skies) brought me into familiar streets and the recollection of just how much more festive London is during the holidays than my home in California. The holiday lights suspended above the streets, the artfully decorated windows of Harrods, and the hordes of stylishly dressed shoppers (a surprising number speaking Arabic or Farsi) put me in a Christmassy mood for the first time in 2021.

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