I went to London and all I got my parents was this nonexistent T-shirt — my dad’s been to London a few times, mostly on Navy business (the Navy over here regarding the UK as generally speaking a brilliant if tragically immobile aircraft carrier), my mom only went the once in 1991, a trip she still enjoyed fantastically. She was my Anglophilic role model growing up, and if her tastes were more Rosamund Pilcher and P. D. James and less Mervyn Peake than mine, such are the differences in literary taste. So when I first went way back when, and ever since then whenever I’ve gone to London, she is always terribly jealous of me and asking for stories.

And she always, always asks if I’ve seen the sights. Not EVERY sight, mind you. But there’s some part of her that’s been quite astonished then and now over the fact that I would go to London, hang around for some days and in the midst of it all somehow not go to the Tower of London. Or Westminster Abbey. Or the Houses of Parliament. Or Hyde Park. Or Harrod’s. Or…

For me the ‘sights’ are not necessarily my sights. I don’t really know where I got the feeling that avoiding where the tourists all go to as well is so vitally important to me — and it’s not like I am going to pretend I haven’t seen some of The Typical Places around and about, about which more in a second. But my mother still wonders why literarily inclined me hasn’t gone to the Abbey to note all the dead poets (I much preferred randomly stumbling across the ‘Conversation with Oscar Wilde’ piece, that was great!) and why I haven’t just drowned in the pomp and circumstance of it all.

London I like for other reasons — I have friends there, I’ve gained many pleasant memories every time I’ve visited, I can find things there I can’t readily find anywhere else, an out of print book or a rare CD perhaps, and so forth. I don’t need to hit every museum or observe every “Dick Whittington Beat Up Boadicea and Shakespeare With Wat Tyler’s Left Leg Here in 1765” sign around. I have good faith that they are there. I’ve visited the British Museum once, and I think that was the most self-consciously touristy thing I’ve done in the city to my knowledge.

Well, except for one thing. So last year David at Suede’s old offices gave me directions to where I could pick up his spiffy bio of the band at the ICA, as the book was not yet ready for general sale. So I went over and wandered down the way to the ICA from the tube station, picked up the book and had some lunch and went outside and wondered where the heck the road went to. I had time so I wandered down the road, pondered as to the big building at the end of it, then realized I was in front of Buckingham Palace. So I took some photos for my mom. I figured she would appreciate it (and she did!).