This is me, trying to record a few offhand observations, and ridiculously try to link them to larger social trends and stereotypes, aside from the stuff everybody already knows, e.g. the habit of driving on the wrong side of the road.
Air conditioning simply isn’t used as much here in London; the indoors are kept a few degrees (F) warmer than I am used to in Chicago, which has a similar (outdoors) climate.
I’d expect that if I stayed here I’d sweat off about 10 lbs just doing standard office work, which could explain how the average frailty here is noticeably higher.
A Can of Coke
SI measurements mean a can of pop is 330ml, which is just shy of 11.2 oz. In the US, it’s a 12oz can. That’s about 12 calories less sugar per-can, which would be another reason why people here are thinner.
Holy Christ as a cracker.
So here’s the thing: U.S. cities are mostly planned and Cartesian; they’re on a grid. It may not be perfect, but you can expect big long streets that run the length of the city, cross-streets that cut over, and a few exceptions that cut diagonally to help you get from A – C without going north to B, then over to C. Once and a while, a street will dead-end for some reason, and you’ll have to go around the block, or up and over a few to find an underpass beneath the expressway or avoid a one-way section of a street.
And for you native Bostonians, I recommend you come visit your cousins in Chicago and you’ll see what I mean… Hell, even Newark has a grid.
You can also expect the numbers to count up coherently: if I say that Madison and State are (0,0), and I live on 1800 N. Wells, you can figure out pretty easily how to get from Madison and State to my house by glancing at a map. The only information that isn’t encoded in the address is the X axis of Wells, which means that once I know 2D geometry (which everyone is taught the first year of High School), the only additional cognitive load required to find my way to any given address is the missing coordinate of the street the address is on. I have to learn that Wells = 200 West, that x = -200. And that’s something you can learn once and never forget. If I do have to detour for some reason, I know that I’ve cut over to Clark, which is 100 West, and can get back most any time I want.
Not so in London, at least Tower Hill, which is where my hotel is. Without some kind of map, it isn’t even possible to discern that you’re headed the wrong direction—even Sol has deserted you in your quest. The closest analogue I can imagine is that some mad fiend has turned the heart of a major metropolitan area into the cul-de-sac hell that is restricted to the suburbs in the US.
I’m not saying that Hell is wrong, but I can turn left twice and still end up travelling the same direction, because the streets all curve and stop after a block or two. Just sayin’
This also means that cabbies here have a tremendous racket, as they can legitimately meander around a neighborhood trying to find a street which only exists for a block or two. It also means that no matter where you are, where you’re going, or how you’re getting there, it will take you about an hour.
The Underground is 2.3x more expensive than the CTA. Yes, things are much more posh, and London is more expensive in general, but it costs me 6 USD, rather than 2.5 USD to get anywhere.
“Thanks, you’re a diamond, babe” is not something you’d ever hear in the U.S. for letting someone bum a smoke. (Well, maybe Boystown.) I tend to worry that I come across as something of an ogre for the businesslike, give-nothing-away, “thanks” I’m used to. We’re not assholes, we just play poker.
Update: If you’re tempted to take offense, please recall these are tongue-in-cheek, touristy observations of a confessed business-traveling Chicagoan who actually did enjoy himself, particularly on Brick Road the night before he left. 😉