London, Day 3, Afternoon: (Unsuccessfully) Shopping on Oxford Street

Lunch, the bracing act

The two blocks from Wigmore Hall to Oxford Street left me worn out.

When I saw the sign “Restaurant on 2” at Debenham’s, I realized I wasn’t yet ready to face the wall of shoppers.

Monstrous on the outside, lovely on the in
Debenham’s: Monstrous on the outside, lovely on the in
© Copyright Stephen Richards and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I had the “jacket potato with two toppings and salad” for lunch.

Over here "Cole Slaw" equals "Salad"
Over here “Cole Slaw” equals “Salad”

I needed those carbs to calm me down. I should’ve had two, because Oxford Street awaited.

Not Shopping Trooper, Shopping Drooper

They all look nice, why can't I?
They all look nice, why can’t I?

I spent all afternoon shopping. It was a wearying experience: I stopped remembering whether their 10 was my 12 or my 10 was their 12 (it’s the latter).

The UK-adjusted size was too small, and the next size up with too large. Everything was a flair or a bootcut, which I don’t look good in. All the blouses were, blousy, which are really really really unattractive on me.


Don’t leave your underwear shopping for the last thing you do on your last day of your trip. You will not be able to do it.

The underwear over here was not as nice as I remembered, and there were racks of bras in DD, from 32 up; racks for racks, as it were. I didn’t notice it when I was noticing things (I’m in London, yay!), but I find it hard to believe that DD is the most popular size. Really, DD? Did everybody get a breast enlargement over here?

I was shocked to realize that withdrawing £100 from an ATM (as suggested on the Internet, instead of exchanging cash money) cost me over $170 with the fees, commissions, markup, etc. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

I did buy a lovely spring dress at Debs, a linen-y sleeveless v-neck, a proper lady’s dress. Cost me almost that $170, but it will be wonderful to wear (in a few pounds) (and I don’t mean Sterling).


I was cranky and everything hurt from walking around all day; finding nothing I liked in Marks & Spencer except nail clippers didn’t help.

Well, at least they all match
Well, at least they all match

And after failure, success

The concert left me emotionally drained. It made me want to cry.

Shopping all afternoon left me emotionally drained. Everything cost a lot, and nothing fit. It made me want to cry.

And then, I had dinner at Buffet V.

Buffet V, I love you!
Buffet V, I love you!

Vegetarian Chinese buffet restaurant.

Pretty AND vegetarian, wow!
Pretty AND vegetarian, wow!

Everything they had I could eat.

I ate WAY more than this
I ate WAY more than this

I was restored.

Okay so I didn’t like their seaweed salad, but their faux beef and chix chicken dishes were wonderful, as was the ginseng tea. Fresh fruits, raw veggies, it felt good to eat good.

I was now merely a little tired from shopping all day, not an emotional wreck like previously.

At a Crossroad Crosswalk

The hardest thing I’ve had to contend with here is not really knowing which way the cars are going to come. I mean I know which way the cars are going to come—the other way—but since one of the first things you learn on your way to fully-fledged humanhood is to how to cross the street, learning how to the safely cross the street depends on what country you learn it in. So ingrained is which way you look that when you travel to opposite-sided countries you are in jeopardy of death-by-runned-over.

In America you look left-right-left, because the car closest to you—no matter what side of the road you’re on—will be coming from the left, and double-teaming that side means fewer cars can sneak up on you. In the UK, the car closest to you will be coming from the right, so looking left-right-left will cause you to miss the car that’s closest to you because you are looking the other way. You need to look right-left-right, which of course you can’t do because your brain is left-right-left wired. Hence the possible likelyhood of death runneth over (you).

What way am I lookin’ again?

It’s much easier when other people are at the crosswalk; you just walk when they walk.

People do not J-walk here, and they don’t cross just anywhere; it’s always at the cross-walk. And cars here aren’t accommodating if you choose to cross not at the crosswalk. In fact, drivers get very cross when you don’t crosswalk-cross, very cross indeed.

The other thing that’s hard to figure out is how to pass people on the sidewalk. They drive on the other side of the road; do they pass on the other side as well? It’s kind of a swirling mass on the sidewalk, eddies and currents of humanity, all flowing, flowing, flowing.

I did crash into another tourist at the British Museum, but I attribute that to the both of us being foreign and both of us being gobsmacked at what we were looking at.


My last evening, post-bath (see below), was spent watching British TV, to wit:

  • Shaun of the Dead – because it was on and it was free;
  • Brits getting a week “Down Under” to decide whether or not to move there;
  • A thing about the invasions of England to 1066, which would normally fascinate me but I fell asleep.

Adverts were fun – playful, clever, cheeky


Three days without companionship was enough for me. No internet—£9 an hour at the hotel!—so a big disconnection. By the time I got back to the hotel every day, I was so wiped I couldn’t even muster the energy or desire to go down to the hotel bar, which looked really lovely but…I just didn’t think I could speak in coherent sentences by that time of the day.

But that tub in the bathroom, oh my gawd what a gift, especially on my last night when I finally figured out how to get really hot water.

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