London (Babe) Blogging

Visiting Hamley’s toy store is just like spending a day shopping at FAO Schwartz in Manhattan — only without all those savagely discounted prices.

Jeebus, but London is expensive. There is, however, a trick to staying here without constantly worrying about the expense. (Two tricks, actually, but the first one doesn’t count, because I’m not the sole male heir of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.) Anyway, here’s the trick.

Accept the fact that you’re getting screwed at the time you change currency. Once your dollars have become pounds, do not think of this again. From that point on, try to think of dollars and pounds as being equal.

That 10-pound BLT at the hotel lobby bar wasn’t really 20 bucks. It was ten. Sure, that’s a lot of money for a sandwich, but still in line with hotel prices. Four dollars for a Coke? No! If you can convince yourself that a pound is a dollar is a pound, that refreshing pause only cost you two dollars. Pricey? Sure. But what did you expect, tourist?

We enjoyed a lovely Italian lunch today, only 45 dollars including wine and tip. I know that’s not true, but I got over my anger on Sunday when I changed all those dollars.

Saturday night was my first real night in London, since we can’t count Jetlag Friday as any kind of day or night at all. Samizdata‘s Perry de Havilland threw the Anglosphere Blogger Bash at his lovely Chelsea home, and it was a fine time. I was already in love with London before meeting Perry and his crew (after a three-year wait). But by the time the evening was over, I had several new crushes.

First off, don’t let Megan McArdle let you buy that “I’m such a geek!” thing she has going. Not even though Megan believes it herself. In the real world, she’s far more hip & cool than she’ll ever give herself credit for. Megan was also able to make me feel 15 years old again — you know, back when the pretty girls still made me feel short.

Jessica is exactly what I expected, even though I didn’t expect her there at all. It was only after a second introduction and some pleasant chatter that I placed the face with the blog. I’m pretty sure Jessica holds her liquor better than I hold mine, because I distinctly remember making an ass of myself twice in her presence, and her not even one time at all. That said, if I ever find myself in her hometown of Atlanta, I’m going to: A) ask to crash on her sofa; and B) try not to make any passes. I promise.

Vita Maynard is simply lovely, and will steal your cigars right out of your offering hand. Or something like that. If she has a blog, I didn’t catch the name, because I was too busy flirting/trying to get free ballroom dance lessons. Vita also provided us with info on where to get the best – everything – in London, so I expect my first child will be born into a state of extreme poverty.

Samizdata’s Adriana Cronin was my first-ever blog-crush (remember that picture with her on the motorcycle from way back when?), and was probably yours, too. In person she’s even cooler, funnier, and hotter. Also, she has one of those party-stopping laughs. The kind where everyone stops what they’re doing because they just have to get in on the joke.

Rachel Clarke knows her Scotch. In fact, she even knows my Scotch better than I do. It helps that she works for a distributor. It helps even more that she’s bright and charming and simply a joy to speak with. If this all sounds like I’m just sucking up to a pretty girl so that I might get a nice bottle of duty free… well, I’m not just sucking up. It’s all true, every word.

Oh, there were guys there, too.

The whole Samizdata gang – David Carr, Brian Micklethwait, Gabriel Syme, Robert Clayton Dean, Jonathan Pearce, Michael Jennings – and some others whose names escape me right now. Too many to give individual kudos to, so let me sum up:

These guys can drink you under the table, and talk your ears off once you’re down there.

My kind of guys. My kind of party.

Thanks again to Perry the Uberhost. And if you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself at one of his famous parties, be sure to ask him about the Cold War history behind his wet bar.