I got to do two new things in London today.
London, for me, is not "new." It's a place that feels like home, looks like home, but costs twice as much as home.
My old pal Peter took me for coffee on top of the National Portrait Gallery. He's had five books published in Australia and the UK, and his first book is being printed Stateside in the spring. It was NOT my intent to swipe his book idea about going from Cape Town to Cairo by land when I launched MariesWorldTour.com (he immortalized his own trip in "Swahili for the Broken-Hearted" and hopefully people will realize that many of our similar viewpoints come from being pals while talking about Africa, not from me swiping him). Strangely, that is how life turned out. And we both did it in the same year. And so did Paul Theroux, although he started from the north. Peter and I had similar experiences, although he got to be in an Oscar-winning movie and I got to crack a rib and catch walking pneumonia. As for Mr. Theroux… well, life is different when you're a small fry like me. Or a medium-fry like Peter. No one famous was inviting us over for tea, that's for sure.
I meant to cover the entire planet, not "just" Africa. But things don't go as planned very often in my life.
Anyway, the two new things are:
1) I took a shower at Heathrow Airport. I took one at Gatwick before, when Herr Marlboro had just moved into a Portsmouth place that featured an old bathtub and no shower. But Heathrow's shower was new to me. Three pounds got me the rental of a towel. The Heathrow ones (in Terminal 4 in this case) are located in the Arrivals Men's and Women's Rooms. Much nicer than the Gatwick ones, which adjoin the public corridor.
2) I was randomly selected for a full body scan. Yikes! I was subjected to low-level radiation ("the same amount as what you'd get from two minutes of a long-distance flight) and a series of strange images were created of me, which were disturbing in their flabbiness. Three shots showed me from different angles. And the closer I stood to the backdrop, the more distorted the butt and hips were.
At least that's what I tell myself.
Anyway, it will probably give me early cancer, but it did get me to the front of the line.