You have to catch A.A. Gill’s “My London and Welcome to It,” in this Sunday’s New York Times.
Get ready for a romp through London, replete with sarcasm, humor and a silver-tongued acidity the likes of which could only come from a native New Londoner.
“The Olympics has come and dragged us all into the bright light, and a lot of attention is being given to London and we are not used to it,” Gill writes. “We’re not a good time to be had by all, we’re not an easy date.”
If you have a chance to go to this summer’s Olympics, and didn’t buy your tickets a long time ago, it’s likely to be very expensive. But if you have Gill’s tips tucked under your arm, you would have to be dead not to have fun.
In addition to being welcomed by hundreds of nationalities that live in London, you’ll be part of a metropolis that is “not very nice to people.”
“We’re not friendly,” writes Gill. “Not that we’re rude, like the Parisans with their theatrical and frankly risible haughtiness; nor do we have New Yorkers’ shouty impatience. Londoners are just permanently petulant, irritated. I think we wake up taking offense.”
Gill writes that he sat down with London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson about what Americans should do when they come to the city. “Um, visitors should hire a bike and ride through the parks,” Johnson is reported to have said.
The author goes on to explain, “The vehicles are sometimes referred to as Boris bikes after him, and have been an unexpectedly wobbly, and careening success–easy to get, easy to use and a really easy way to end up seeing how brilliant the National Health Service is.”
Unfortunately, Gill says London is not really a walkable city, ” think of London as a loose federation of villages, states, and principalities,” other than the off hand warning, there is little recommended in the way of cyclo-tourism.
“We have, collectively, osmotically, decided that we hate the Olympics,” writes Gill.
But CyclistsInternational highly recommends Gill’s London review, if anything, so you can prove him wrong.