By Chris Erskine
Los Angeles Times
LONDON ~ So here’s what happens. My dad asks if I want to go to London with him, and I say, “Sure, chap, totally,” and before I know it, I’m walking down this London street, Gloucester, which is pronounced Glowster for some reason. Like my dad, this whole country has a bad case of the mumbles.
“It’s pronounced Glow-ster,” he says when I bungle it the first time.
“Are you sure?”
“Glow-ster,” he says, sounding vaguely Russian.
Now he wants me to write a column for him about our trip to London, giving my side of the story.
Well, here you go, Daddy-O. God save the king.
First of all, you have never seen so many sickly looking people as here in London. They have, like, 3,000 pubs here and evidently not a single tanning salon, which is a little warped if you ask me. I’d be beheading people too if all it did was rain all the time.
But I swear, I have never seen my dad so happy. Dad says too much sunshine can really ruin a writer, so he’s really glad to be here in the UK, where the lousy weather makes life more exciting and unpredictable.
Oh, what a trip. You should see my dad’s eyes light up whenever he spots another quaint little pub. He gets all-Irish and his cheeks begin to flash red like a stop light. I’ve seen him actually stop traffic.
“Over here,” he says, and then nearly gets mowed over by one of those big goofy Austin Powers buses.
Speaking of traffic, here’s my dad crossing a street in London. First, he steps off the curb, then he remembers that traffic is opposite from what he’s used to, and hops back up on the curb real quick. Then he looks to the right, then to the left, then to the right again and steps back into the street, where he nearly gets run over by a cab.
It’s like watching someone do the hokey-pokey at a wedding, only the other dancers are all cars, buses and trucks. Fifteen minutes later, he is safely across, and the US ambassador to Britain is writing a formal apology for whatever pileups Dad might’ve caused.
My dad – he’s such a dad. When he travels, he’s got all these maps in his pockets, just to know how lost he really is
“Dad, I have my iPhone,” I say, reminding him that I can get a satellite map at any moment.
“I think we’re in – Waterloo,” he says, pulling out another pocket map.
“How appropriate,” I say.
Let me say this about London: It really rocks, even when your dad’s along, the truest test of any great city.
The taxi cabs are so cool, and the phone booths look like little red candy stores. I love-love-love the tube (subway) and the way the people are so pink and well-scrubbed. Like baby mice.
Sure, London could be improved. They have way too many museums, and after a while all the pubs begin to look the same to me. Imagine a city without a single mini-mall? That’s London. Where do they get their nails done?
One night, my dad takes me to this really fancy place full of older men with gray hair. In England, that’s how you know it’s a really good restaurant, by the gray hair (just the reverse of Los Angeles).
Anyway, after a little wine, I get really chatty, just like my mom, so I talk nonstop for three, maybe four straight hours at this really fancy restaurant near Parliament.
I tell Dad all about how Twitter works and how he needs to be on Twitter since he has so much to offer (kidding!). Pretty soon he gets all yawny and bobble-head tired, and at one point I think his chin actually touches his stomach. You know, I guess a man can be an island.
“More wine, sir?” asks the waiter.
“Um, I think he’s unconscious,” I explain. “But I’ll have some.”
“Of course, miss,” says the waiter.
When it came, the bill was, like, £300, which is almost $500 American. You should’ve seen my dad’s face. The colour drains out of it, and his fingers tremble a little like it was a holdup or something.
He starts humming My County ’Tis of Thee and then mutters something about throwing all their damn tea in the Thames, whatever that means. Eventually, he settles down and just pays the bill.
“Wow, Dad, that’s sure a lot of money,” I tell him as we walk out.
“Well,” he says, “here’s what I think.”
“I think you’re worth it,” he says.
Sure, Dad. Totally.
Erskine can be reached at chris.Erskine@latimes.com.