London, Day 4 It *did* stop raining yesterday, so off I went to Portobello Road. Portobello Road is, for me, the place where Paddington went to visit Mr.Gruber for something mysterious called "elevenses". I didn't see Paddington, although there were many stuffed replicas of him, and I suspect Mr.Gruber must be dead by now, as he was already very old when I read the Paddington stories as a young thing. (There's a man making the most disgusting horking and coughing sounds in this cafe. Must wash my hands before I leave. Lord knows *who* used this keyboard before me.) The Portobello market is quite fun, and I found a couple of tops there, one a very pretty reversible silk blouse that ties at the waist. I also found a cafe with a balcony on the second floor where I watched people for a bit and had a latte. Did you know that most restaurants here *do not know* what a long espresso is? They will, instead, bring you a double. Zing! Went out to eat with friends near Covent Gardens/Leichester Square in a chi-chi fish restaurant called Zilli's. They had a prix fixe menu for about £20. We ordered a mid-priced bottle of wine at £35 (that's over $70 CDN). The food was okay. The carrot and ginger soup was tasty, but my friend Luc at Bistro San Lucas in my 'hood makes the best soup anywhere, so I'm spoiled. The monkfish dish was a bit disappointing. Mixed with pasta, which I ate very little of, there was very little monkfish. The dessert was very good: a gooey chocolate-y brownie topped with what seemed to be homemade and very good pistachio ice cream. Okay, Lisa, Here's Maggie's Take on Lad Culture Lad culture is hard to describe. I did a search on the 'net and came up empty handed when it came to a definitive definition. Let's just say that its a sensibility informed by football hooliganism and breasts. I've found that there are different degrees of laddism in the men I've met, and in some it's completely absent. (There's a young man picking his nose beside me. Must wash hands soon!) One friend of a few years now is probably the most lad-like I know. He seems to be pretty much perenially single, rides a bike in competition, and--this is his defining lad-like feature--he is self-effacingly sarcastic most of the time. He's also exceptionally funny, and his put-downs are often what North Americans would consider politically incorrect. I know I should be completely appalled by this. But I'm not. A couple of years ago, while having dinner with this lad and his different-degree-of-laddishness pals, he made a puppet out of his steak. It was incredibly rude *and* hysterically funny. I was charmed. I *was not* drunk, if that's what you're thinking. Friday this lad brought one of his lad-pals, who immediately engaged me in a conversation about breasts in general, and mine somewhat tangentially. The rest of our conversation consisted of implied sex and various body parts. Throughout the whole conversation, he was completely self-effacing, making remarks that he was perhaps not worthy of me and at the same time paying me all kinds of compliments. If I left at any time, he'd look at me with downcast eyes and say, "I'll miss you." This is flirting, lad-style. These guys are not relationship material. These are not life partners. It may even be difficult to be friends with these guys. But flirting with them is dead simple and completely amusing. The sensitive North American male is nice, but I think these sweetly raunchy lads are charming. If only I could breed them together, then I would have the perfect man.

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