Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Road to London

The Adventure Begins – London by Way of Calgary

I have always enjoyed travelling, but, until late 2005, I had never ventured outside of North America. Luckily, my English friend, Paul, invited me to visit England with him. Just getting there was an adventure.

First, the Air Canada equipment at San Francisco International had mechanical difficulties that delayed the flight around three hours. When we finally arrived in Calgary, it was a race to get through customs, pick up and recheck our bags, and get to the gate before the flight to London departed. If we missed the flight, we would have to wait even longer to get there. Luckily, we made it to the gate as our transatlantic flight was boarding.

During takeoff, we had to deal with the remnants of a storm that was passing through the Calgary area. It felt like we were on a roller coaster. I had never been on such a long flight before. Since we were in coach, it got cramped pretty quickly, but we were finally on our way…

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Am a Londoner

On the Street Where I Lived

I lived in three different residences and neighborhoods in London during 2005 and 2006. The most homey and wonderful was at 166 Nelson Road in North London. I have included an image here. You can do a full 360 degree scan -- just like you are there. The weather and flora in the photo look very similar to the last time I was there, which was during the 2006 World Cup (June).

View Larger Map

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Teenage Years/A Mexican Under the Influence

Monty Python's Flying Circus - Main Theme

The Monty Python Connection

In my introduction, I forgot to mention the profound effect that Monty Python’s Flying Circus had upon me. During my high school years (1972 – 1976), American public television was overrun with British productions, Masterpiece Theater, Upstairs, Downstairs, International Animation Festival, and, of course, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Once I had a taste of it, I was hooked. The accents, the settings, the simultaneously high and lowbrow humor. I was in heaven!

From the unforgettable show opening to the classic sketches included here, I was very much entertained, but it never felt “foreign” to me. For me, I was home! Enjoy!

Monty Python's Flying Circus - The Lumberjack Song

Monty Python's Flying Circus ~ "Nudge, Nudge" Sketch

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Whither (or Wither), Britannia?

Union Jack or Union Jacked?

This week, two competing articles in Newsweek postulate that the UK is either KO’d or OK. Is the UK alright, Jack?

Read and decide for yourself:

“Is Great Britain Gone for Good?”



Saturday, August 1, 2009

Geography Lesson - London Style

My Blog's Banner

My blog’s banner comes from the Investec Specialist bank website’s home page. You can see the entire image here: Trust me, it’s worth it! It’s a lovely panorama, although it must be Photoshopped, because London’s main financial district, where The Gherkin aka 30 St Mary Axe London, England (see is located, is not in such close physical proximity to St. Paul’s Cathedral, as you can see from a review of either Google Maps here:

View Larger Map
or the Google Earth image capture shown above. (I know it looks pretty small at the minute, but you can click on it to EMBIGGEN it, as they say on AICN. Then, you will be able to discern the details.)

In the image, St. Paul’s Cathedral is midway down the photo near the left margin. The cathedral is marked by many blue dots. The Gherkin is midway down the photo near the right margin. The address is marked in the photo as shown above: 30 St Mary Axe.

Once you review the Google Earth image and then try to reconcile it with the banner image, it becomes fairly obvious that the banner image has been altered, i.e., it cannot be a true depiction of London's skyline. However, it does serve Investec Specialist bank's interests by appearing to connect London's past with its present and future as represented by The Gherkin.

Friday, July 31, 2009


The Mexican Anglophile

It’s sometimes difficult for me to understand how a sheltered Mexican-American boy from the suburbs of Los Angeles came to be such a passionate Anglophile. Although I grew up in a comfortable, middle-class home, my parents had never travelled outside of North America. There was no direct or obvious family connection to England – either by war, marriage, friendship or anything else.

Looking back, the first time there was some inkling I had a deep, personal connection to England was when I went to see “Mary Poppins” as a boy. It was an incredible epiphany. I loved the accents and the quaint settings. Later, I heard about the Titanic tragedy and read Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember”. It all felt somehow familiar and even magnetic. Whenever I met someone with an English accent or saw someone on television or in the movies who spoke with a Cockney, London, or Northern accent, I was transfixed.

As a middle-aged adult, I finally had the opportunity to visit England, and I ended up staying in London for six months. While it was a bit of a shock at first, since I didn’t know what or where anything was, once I got my bearings, I felt very happy and at home there. The row houses, the Underground, and the double-decker buses were all new to my actual experience, but they all felt very attractive and comfortable. In fact, if you ever see or have ever seen the film, “Shaun of the Dead”, with Simon Pegg, the scenes around his home were filmed in my old neighborhood in Crouch End along Nelson Road and Weston Park.

When I finally had to leave to come back to the U.S., I was heartsick, because I really enjoyed the life I had in London, and I could see that I could easily spend the rest of my life there. London is extremely cosmopolitan and such a cultural, historical and transportation hub, so there are always new people and things to see.

Once I was back in the States, I continued working for the English company that first employed me when I lived in London. I even adopted a posh English accent to speak with the prospects I called. It just felt right and less distracting to do so.

While in London, I also made a number of good friends with whom I am still corresponding. They are from the entire range of the British Commonwealth: the Seychelles, Australia, England, South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand.

One day, I hope to get back to London and maybe even retire there.