Things I’ve Learned in London

World traveler, meAnd so I’ve come to the end of my jury duties, with nothing left to do but present the award at tonight’s gala presentation of “The Darjeeling Limited” — which I saw just an hour ago at the press screening, in the massive auditorium of the Odeon Leicester Square.

Interesting film. More engaging than “The Life Aquatic”. And the prologue, while entirely unnecessary, is quite beautiful.

Anyway, I’ve got about four or five hours before I have to suit up for the presentation, and I plan to spend it frantically running from shop to shop, stocking up on chocolate, magazines, books and perhaps a couple of DVDs. And also more chocolate.

Here are some observations I’ve made during my visit:

It doesn’t rain nearly as much as everyone says it does.

Colin Firth is taller than you’d think.

What the locals call “corned beef”, my people call “a sick joke”.

People will just walk right up to waterfowl in St. James Park, even though they probably shouldn’t.

Wes Anderson does not appear to have aged a day since our interview in 1998. This is not a specific observation about London, but hey, we’re both here.

“Touch in with your Oyster card” sounds dirty, but it isn’t.

Red foxes are the raccoons of the exurbs, rooting around in garbage and trundling down the alleyways when no one is looking. But they’re much more graceful about it and don’t have rabies, which is appreciated.

If you are in the basement of a Virgin Megastore, and Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better” comes over the Muzak, every single person around you will begin quietly mouthing the lyrics.

The back of Prince Charles’ head still manages to be very imposing.

Oh, and Italians are terrified of squirrels. Well, a couple of them, anyway. Italians, not squirrels. Although I might have got it backwards, and there was something about these particular squirrels that terrified these particular Italians. But I think I would have noticed.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but the shops are beckoning. I’ll catch you all tomorrow.