Day 5: London Town 1

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Oh Yikes. Headed towards Covent Garden from Cartwright Gardens, where our very teeny studio “apartment” was located. You can barely fit two sardines in a can better than here, where the chairs have to be stored in the closet or you aren’t able to maneuver inside the room. This place has outclassed the Pod in New York by being meaner in proportions and square foot takeoffs. Still, all the amenities of a fully furnished “catered apartment” (as they call them on this side of the Atlantic) included dishes, pots and pans, and above all, Internet access.

I pointed out my old haunts, including the gorgeous Council flat in Gordon Mansions on Torrington Place. I subleased a bedsit there in the summer of 1975 for £9 a week from a student at the Architectural Association. Aside from the aura, living in Bloomsbury definitely had its advantages of location and walking distance to everything.

We made a stop in Soho Chinatown, where I rang the doorbell of a chartered accountant’s office. I thought the  owners might recall Antonio Kwan and Bosco Chan, the two accountants who worked there  45 years ago and hired me to be their assistant. Despite my fumbling over the crank calculator using £ and Sterling,  I mastered the abacus with their help.

Tony and Bosco did the accounts for the Chinese restaurants so we called on clients around lunchtime for obvious reasons. I saved the £1 lunch vouchers I was given to buy cheesecake for dinner!  Unfortunately, my aspiration of working in a Chinese restaurant was never fulfilled. This was the closest I was ever going to get to personally working in the food industry!

We watched rivers of tourists from our window seats at dinner. The economy is being well replenished by international tourist consumption here. However, coming from New York, I couldn’t help but feel the depressing shabbiness of London’s buildings.

Still, the people are the ones who reflect the vibrancy of the city. We were reassured in Ladbroke the following night. Not only was the Turkish food at Fez Mangal fresh and tasty, but  the ambiance consisted of a very healthy mix of all ethnic cultures, economic backgrounds, and lifestyles.

Photos, from top down:

1. Two Independent Parties at Fez Mangal enjoying the food
2. Fez Mangal Mixed Grill and Salad
3. Throngs of Tourists at Oxford Circus from the top front window of a newly minted No. 11 double decker bus–the cheapest way to see London’s sights.

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