Though the fog remained more in my throbbing head than around the city environs itself - despite its oft-repeated moniker as the Big Smoke. Apparently a jet-setting lifestyle - and the unsettling time differences between cities - would prove highly detrimental to my fragile health. Add that to my persistent insomnia during harrowing flights and you can imagine my distress.
Never one to give up without a fight, I turned to the one thing that would help alleviate my pain.
Nothing like the glorious ring of cash registers to get my senses realigned.
Quite a foggy day out there!
London is rightfully famed for its dozens of neighbourhood markets. Though very few quite as famed, kitschy - or as jam-packed with gawking camera-laden tourists - as Portobello Road Market. As you move from the wildly expensive antiques at the Notting Hill end, the stalls gradually evolve to display fruits and vegetables, cheeses and meats, cakes and breads; on to trendy boutiques selling vintage clothing and up-and-coming labels, only to finally end up in Ladbroke Grove with stalls hawking retro military memorabilia.
So you can imagine I went just a bit mental seeing the bargains.
Signs everywhere I turned brightly printed with the beguiling phrases of sale, bargains and prices down certainly cleared the disorienting fugue in my head. Siren calls for me, even a tiny yet enticing 2-for-1 sign propped up on a shabby stall drew my gaze. Yes, my poor wallet and I simply cannot stand to be near markets! No doubt I would have carted back dozens of antique stoneware water coolers, old street signs and even an ancient toy pull cart if I hadn't had Charming Calvin to shake me back to reality.
Calvin : What is that?
Paul : A lovely antique sterling silver toast rack?
Calvin : You don't like toast.
Paul : One day I might! Especially if I had a maid ready to make the toast. And look it has such pretty matching sugar tongs!
Calvin : For the dainty cubes in your sugar bowl?
Paul : We could always get a sugar bowl.
Calvin : Get it then.
Paul : Hmm. Wonder if I should get it.
Calvin : Well, you can certainly afford to splurge.
Paul : Damn. Now I don't want to get it!
Never underestimate the taciturn Calvin.
Similar scene repeated itself on the high streets of Oxford Street, Kensington and Piccadilly as well. Each time Calvin brought up the notion that I could actually afford the needless expenditure, contrary fellow that I am, I immediately backtracked from the frivolous purchase. Wildly unequal exchange rates displaced the bargain bin signs in my head.
Else I would probably have needed a 20-foot container just to ship my purchases home.