Travel Notes 3: London

Nancy Friedman
6 min readNov 4, 2022

Previously in Travel Notes: SFO to NYC, Aboard the Queen Mary 2

This was my third visit to London, but my last visit was a long time ago. In fact, except for a short trip to Vancouver, BC, in 2017, I hadn’t been outside the US since 1995. Which is embarrassing, but as I may have mentioned more than once: I hate flying.

I arrived feeling like crap because of the cold I’d picked up on the ship. To my great regret, I had to bow out of a dinner invitation I’d been looking forward to. Rather than staying in my hotel room feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take advantage of the mild, sunny weather to walk around and look for cultural signifiers.

Pink and blue garbage bags awaiting pickup on a London street. They looked like the residue from a couple of gender-reveal parties. Much more standardized than the motley bags in New York!

I regret to report that the disemvoweling trend has taken hold across the pond. (See my Pinterest board of all-consonant brand names.)

CNCPT, a “luxury multibrand store”

Every so often I’d see a sign that made me think, “There’s no way this would work in the US.” This one, promoting the Daily Mail’s assessment of Back to the Future (the musical) as a “whacking great hit,” was an example.

And so was Cinch’s slogan: “Cars without the faff.”

The Cinch photo is out of sequence — I actually took it at my next port of call, Bristol — but thematically it belongs with the “whacking” sign. For more on faff, which translates roughly as “an overcomplicated task,” see this Wiktionary entry and this post by Ben Yagoda, an expert on US-UK linguistic distinctions.

Are there rectangular toilets in the US? I’ve never seen one. But they were everywhere I went (ha) in the UK. This one was in my hotel (Club Quarters Trafalgar Square).

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Nancy Friedman

Writer, name developer, brand consultant, idea-ist, ex-journalist. @fritinancy on Mastodon, Instagram, Bluesky, Threads, and elsewhere.