2012年6月28日 星期四

My London, and Welcome to It 我的倫敦啊,歡迎你來

My London, and Welcome to It

Andrew Testa for The New York Times
The Waterloo Bridge, with St. Paul's in the background.

IF you’ve saved this article for your long-planned trip to London, and you’re now reading it for the third time, circling Heathrow, well, I’m sorry. You’re probably still up there because the queue at passport control has become mutinous. They’re snaking out onto the runways — grim, silently furious visitors, unable to use their phones, forbidden from showing anything but abject acquiescence to the blunt instrument that is the immigration officer at the distant desk.
I always feel bad about the queues at Heathrow as I walk to the coming home rather than the going abroad line. And as you stand there, for hours, looking at the two groups — the indigenous and the visitors — you’ll notice something. It’s a good thing. A heartwarming, little consolation thing. They look exactly the same. There is no difference between you and us, not in color, ethnicity, dress or demeanor. Those who live in London and those who visit are exactly the same.

Andrew Testa for The New York Times
The National Gallery.
Andrew Testa for The New York Times
The Mayflower pub.
Andrew Testa for The New York Times
The statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

In half my lifetime this city has become a homogenous, integrated, international place of choice rather than birth. Not without grit and friction, but amazingly polyglot and variegated. I travel a lot, and this must be the most successful mongrel casserole anywhere.
Every national team that comes to compete will find a welcoming committee from their homes. London is the sixth largest French city in the world. The Wolseley, the cafe where I often eat, and where I wrote a book about breakfast, has 24 nationalities working in it, from every continent bar the Antarctic. They’re also all Londoners. And that’s a good thing. Although I understand that, as a visitor, it’s not necessarily what you want to come and see — this department store of imported humanity. You want stiff-lipped men in bowler hats and cheeky cockneys with their thumbs in their waistcoats and fish on their heads.
I’m sorry, but they’re not here anymore. No city’s exported image lags so far behind its homegrown veracity than London’s, so let’s start with what you’re not going to find. We’re all out of cheeky cockneys, pearly kings and their queens, and costermongers. You’re not going to find ’60s psychedelia and the Beatles in Carnaby Street. There aren’t any punks under 50 on the King’s Road; there are no more tweedy, mustachioed, closeted gay writers in Bloomsbury, no Harry Potter at King’s Cross. There aren’t men in white tie, smoking cigars outside Pall Mall clubs and there isn’t any fog, but you can find Sherlock Holmes’s house on Baker Street.
A lot of London’s image never was. There never was a Dickensian London, or a Shakespearean London, or a swinging London. Literary London is best looked for in books, and in old bookshops like Sotheran’s on Sackville Street. One of the small joys that’s easy to miss in London is the blue plaques on buildings. These are put up to commemorate the famous on the houses they lived in. You won’t have heard of a lot of them, but some come as a surprise. There are quite a few Americans and some amusing neighbors. Jimi Hendrix lived next door to Handel, in space if not in time.
London is a city of ghosts; you feel them here. Not just of people, but eras. The ghost of empire, or the blitz, the plague, the smoky ghost of the Great Fire that gave us Christopher Wren’s churches and ushered in the Georgian city. London can see the dead, and hugs them close. If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Trying to be a tourist at home is tricky. It’s a good discipline, and rather disappointing. I know as little as you do about being a visitor in this town where I have lived since I was a year old, having been born in Edinburgh. We all look at the crowds of tourists on the Mall and think: What is it you see? What do you get out of this? Like every Londoner I know, I’ve never seen the changing of the guard. It’s an inconvenient traffic snarl-up every weekday morning.
With more guilt, I realize that London may be a great metropolis, but it’s not very nice to people. We’re not friendly. Not that we’re rude, like the Parisians with their theatrical and frankly risible haughtiness; nor do we have New Yorkers’ shouty impatience. Londoners are just permanently petulant, irritated. I think we wake up taking offense. All those English teacup manners, the exaggerated please and thank yous, are really the muzzle we put on our short tempers. There are, for instance, a dozen inflections of the word sorry. Only one of them means “I’m sorry.”
So what you shouldn’t expect is to get on with the natives, or for them to take you to their bosoms, or to invite you to their homes, or to buy you a drink. They may, occasionally, if backed against a wall, be rudimentarily helpful, but mostly they’ll ignore you with the huffing sighs of people in a hurry. When you get lost, you’ll stay lost.
We have, collectively, osmotically, decided that we hate the Olympics. It’s costing too much, it’s causing an enormous amount of trouble and inconvenience, it’s bound to put up prices, make it impossible to find a taxi, but most of all, one thing this city doesn’t need is more gawping, milling, incontinently happy tourists.
On the bus recently a middle-aged, middle-class, middleweight woman peered out of the window at the stalled traffic and furiously bellowed; “Oh my God, is there no end to these improvements?” It was the authentic voice of London, and I thought it could be the city’s motto, uttered at any point in its history, embroidered in gold braid on the uniforms of every petty official.
I recently interviewed our mayor, Boris Johnson. He may be the ex-mayor by the time you land. We have an election coming up. We hate the imposition of that, as well, and all the possible improvements it might bring. I told him I was writing this piece, and asked what message he’d like to send, fraternally, to the people of America, should they be optimistic enough to visit. “Ah, ooh, well, this is very important,” he said with a faintly Churchillian inflection. (He was actually born in New York.) “Um, visitors should hire a bike and ride through the parks.” The vehicles are sometimes referred to as Boris bikes after him, and have been an unexpectedly wobbly and careening success — easy to get, easy to use and a really easy way to end up seeing how brilliant the National Health Service is.
The parks, though, are wonderful, with a wildness that is artifice. Like the English, they appear casual, but involve a great deal of work. Go to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, where Peter Pan comes from. You should see his statue on the banks of the Serpentine. One of the most charming sculptures in any city, it was made by Sir George Frampton, paid for by J. M. Barrie and erected in secret overnight so that children out with their nannies would think it had arrived by magic.
London is one of the finest cities for public statuary. The great and the eternally forgotten glare down at you from horses and morality. When you get to Trafalgar Square, as undoubtedly you will, you’ll look up at Nelson’s Column, where Adm. Horatio Nelson peers down the Mall, either into the bedroom windows of Buckingham Palace, or to review his fleet; there are small ships on top of all the lampposts.
You might also like to pay your respects to George Washington outside the nearby National Gallery to pay your penance to fine art. He was a gift from Virginia, and stands on imported American earth because he said that he’d never set foot in London again. And don’t miss Charles I on the west side of the square. This is the finest equestrian statue in the city. Just down the road in the Banqueting House, you can see where his head was cut off, and also the brilliant Rubens painting of the Apotheosis of James I.
The Thames is London’s great secret, hidden in full view. We do very little with it, or on it, except complain how difficult it is to get over and under. It is the reason London is here at all, but the people stand aloof because we have long memories and longer noses. The Thames was so disgustingly noxious and pestilent that Parliament would abandon the Palace of Westminster when the weather got too hot in the summer, because the smell became dangerous.
London was the biggest city in the world, and the river was the biggest sewer on earth. The Victorians finally built an underground sewerage system that was so efficient we still use it. But they also made the Embankment, which lifts the city above the river. Getting access isn’t easy, but if you only do one thing while you’re here, you should take a boat from the center of town and go either downstream to the maritime museum at Greenwich or up toward Oxford and get off at Kew Gardens and Syon House.
The river is the best way to see the city. London glides past you like human geology. It is not a particularly impressive city seen from above; not like Paris or New York, although you can go up to Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath and look back, and it has a dreamy loveliness brought on by distance. And Wordsworth said that earth had nothing so fair to show as the view of the morning from Westminster Bridge. Two hundred years later he wouldn’t recognize it, but it’s still pretty impressive.
The great problem for visitors to London is size. This is a big place. It’s not a walkable city; there are great walks but you can’t stride from everywhere to anywhere. And it’s easy to lose any sense of where you are in relation to everything else. So it’s best to do what the natives do, and think of London as a loose federation of villages, states and principalities, and take them in one at a time. The oldest bits are in the east. The Tower of London and the Roman Wall mark the beginning of the city. To the east are the docks and the working classes, and what is now the trendiest and most youthful, fashionable bit of London. As the city grew rich, it grew west. Mayfair, Chelsea, Kensington, Notting Hill are mostly Victorian.
You will do all the big-ticket tourist things. I doubt there’s anything I can say that will convince you that the best way to see Tower Bridge is on a postcard, and that the Tower of London is a big, dull box packed with Italian schoolchildren, or that Harrods is much the same. But while the living Londoners are to be avoided, the dead ones should be sought out. St. Paul’s Cathedral is London’s parish church, the single greatest building in Britain, designed by Christopher Wren. It’s light, civilized, rational and humane — everything Londoners aren’t. It has monuments to J. M. W. Turner, the Duke of Wellington and, of course, John Donne, who preached there. Behind the altar is a little memorial chapel and stained-glass window dedicated to America and the help it gave London and the nation in World War II.
Westminster Abbey is the great church of state. It has the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, the Coronation Chair, which is surprisingly Ikea and covered in graffiti from Westminster schoolboys, and there is Poets’ Corner, the marbled hall of fame of Britishness. Just down the street from St. Paul’s there is another Wren church, St. Bride’s, by tradition and practice the journalists’ church. Dryden and Pepys were parishioners. Above the font there is a little shelf, and on it the bust of a girl. She is Virginia Dare. Her parents were married here and then emigrated to the Roanoke Colony. On Aug. 18, 1587, Virginia arrived, the first child of English parents to be born in America. No one knows what happened to her, but this is an immensely touching little memorial in the Old World to the promise of the New. Not one Londoner in 1,000 knows who Virginia was, or that she’s there.
There are thousands of these odd moments in London. You will discover your own, like the alley that has the original Embassy of Texas in it. It’s like opening the drawers in an old house, where so much was put away for safekeeping and then forgotten.
Of course, you should go to the pub. Like the bistros of Paris, the pubs of London are having a hard time of it. Their role as the working classes’ living room can no longer compete with cable TV and supermarket beer. But still there are plenty of beautiful and elegiac pubs, and you should come upon them serendipitously. But I might commend the Mayflower on the river in the East End. This is older than the ship that shares its name, which set off from here. And the Windsor Castle in Kensington is a pretty West London pub. If the weather is fine, it has a charming garden.
I suppose I ought to recommend places to eat, as London has such a Babel of palates and lexicon of digestions. It boasts the most diverse cuisines of any city. But given that you didn’t come all this way just to eat Chinese or Moroccan, you can also get good English. It will be meaty and Victorian, long on pork and the extremities of cows, pigs and offal. Three I recommend. Anchor & Hope near the Old Vic theater on the Cut, has great food in an energetically noisy pub. Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill off Piccadilly, and St. John, a restaurant that has become a point of pilgrimage for visiting chefs. And you really should eat Indian here. Curry is England’s favorite dinner, and our national dish.
Plenty of people come to shop, but it’s expensive, and Bond Street and Sloane Street are pretty much what you’d find at home. It won’t have escaped your notice that the avaricious first world has become a branded and cloned airport lounge.
One thing that is singularly British, and specifically London, is men’s tailoring. This is where the suit was invented, and where it is still made better than anywhere. Savile Row is a very London experience, satisfyingly and shockingly costly, but also dangerously addictive. I’d recommend Brian Russell on Sackville Street, which is now run by Fadia Aoun, a rare female tailor.
You need to see London at night, particularly the theaters. But not just the night life. London itself looks best in the dark. It’s a pretty safe city, and you can walk in most places after sunset. It has a sedate and ghostly beauty. In the crepuscular kindness, you can see not just how she is, but how she once was, the layers of lives that have been lived here. Somebody with nothing better to do worked out that for every one of us living today, there are 15 ghosts. In most places you don’t notice them, but in London you do. The dead and the fictional ghosts of Sherlock Holmes and Falstaff, Oliver Twist, Wendy and the Lost Boys, all the kindly, garrulous ghosts that accompany you in the night. The river runs like dark silk through the heart of the city, and the bridges dance with light. There are corners of silence in the revelry of the West End and Soho, and in the inky shadows foxes and owls patrol Hyde Park, which is still illuminated by gaslight.
Now the Olympics has come and dragged us all into the bright light, and a lot of attention is being given to London, and we’re not used to it. We’re not good at showing off. We’re not a good time to be had by all, we’re not an easy date. London isn’t a party animal by nature, it doesn’t join in or have a favorite karaoke song. It does, though, have a wicked, dry and often cruel sense of humor. It is clever, literate and dramatic. It is private and taciturn, a bit of a bore, and surprisingly sentimental. And it doesn’t make friends quickly, is awkward around visitors. We will be pleased when all the fuss and nosiness has gone away.
So come, by all means, but don’t expect the kindness of strangers unless you decide to stay, in which case you’ll be very welcome indeed. There’s always room for one more on top, which is what they used to say on the buses when the buses had conductors, which they don’t anymore. And that’s another bloody improvement.
A. A. GILL is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and a features writer for The Sunday Times of London. His upcoming book about America will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013.


Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Andrew Testa for The New York Times
Andrew Testa for The New York Times
Andrew Testa for The New York Times
我始終對希斯羅機場的隊伍有種很不舒服的感覺,尤其是當我排在“到達”隊伍時,這種感覺比排在“出發”隊伍時更加明顯。當你在那兒站上幾個小時,看 着這兩條隊——本國人和訪客——你就會有所發現。這是一件好事,是一件溫暖又寬慰人心的事。他們看起來是完全一樣的人。你們和我們沒什麼不同,無論是膚 色、種族、衣着還是舉止。那些住在倫敦的人和短期來訪的人是完全一樣的。
每一個來參賽的國家隊都會找到一個來自本國的歡迎委員會。倫敦是全球第六大講法語的城市。有一家我經常光顧的咖啡廳叫沃爾斯利 (Wolseley),在那裡我寫完了一本關於早餐的書。那裡的員工來自除了南極洲之外六大洲的24個國家。但他們也都是倫敦人。這是一個很好的現象。雖 然作為一個遊客我能理解,你來這並不是想看這種多元化員工的百貨商店,而是想看戴着圓頂高帽的嘴唇僵硬的男人、把大拇指伸進馬甲兜里、頭上頂着魚的厚臉皮 的倫敦佬。
我們這沒有厚臉皮的倫敦佬,沒有珍珠王和珍珠王后,也沒有沿街叫賣的小販。在卡爾納比街上你找不到20世紀60年代的迷幻劑和披頭士;英皇大街上沒 有50歲以下的朋克;布魯姆斯伯里沒有穿着花哨、留着絡腮鬍、行蹤詭秘的同性戀作家;國王十字車站也沒有哈利·波特。沒有打着白色領帶、在蓓爾美爾街的俱 樂部外抽雪茄的男人,也沒有霧,但是你可以在貝克大街上找到夏洛克·福爾摩斯的住所。
有很多“倫敦形象”是從未存在過的。從來沒有“狄更斯式的倫敦”,沒有“莎士比亞式的倫敦”,也沒有“搖擺倫敦”(swinging London,20世紀60年代的英倫文化——譯註)。“文學倫敦”(Literary Lodon)最容易從書中找到,在薩爾維克街(Sackville Street)上的一些舊書店就可以感受到,比如索德蘭(Sotheran’s)書店。也有一些容易錯過的小樂趣,建築物上的藍色徽章就是其一。這些徽章 是為了紀念名人曾經住過的房子。很多名人也許你沒聽過,但有一些着實會讓你驚喜。那裡有不少美國人,還有一些有趣的鄰里關係。吉米·亨德里克斯(Jimi Hendrix)就住在亨德爾(Handel)家隔壁,在不同的年代,二人在同一空間產生了交集。
倫敦是一座幽靈之城。不僅僅是人類的幽靈,還包括時代的印記,這裡有帝國、大轟炸、瘟疫(1665年的鼠疫——譯註)的幽靈,大火災(1666年發 生——譯註)煙霧重重的幽靈則給我們留下了克里斯托弗·雷恩(Christopher Wren)設計重建的教堂,並由此開闢了格魯吉亞城。倫敦能看到死魂靈,並將他們緊緊擁住。如果把紐約比作自作聰明的人、巴黎比作賣弄風情的女子、羅馬比 作舞男、柏林比作邪惡的大叔,那麼倫敦就是一個喃喃低語、神神叨叨的老婦人。她有點耳聾,受不了蠢貨。
試圖以遊客的眼光看待家鄉,有一種微妙的感覺。這是一次很好的訓練,但也會令人失望。我出生在愛丁堡,從一歲起就住在倫敦。如果從遊客的角度來看, 我和你對這裡的了解程度差不多。我們都會看着摩爾大街上擁擠的人群,這樣想着:你們在看什麼?你們能從中得到什麼?和我認識的每一位倫敦人一樣,我從來沒 看過衛兵交接儀式,在每一個工作日的早晨,這裡都會擠得水泄不通,讓人頭痛極了。
帶着更多的負罪感,我意識到倫敦雖然是一個大都市,但它對人們並不和善。我們不太友好。並不是說我們粗魯,像巴黎人那種誇張而直白的傲慢;我們也不 像紐約人那樣大吵大嚷的不耐煩。倫敦人只是永遠帶着暴躁和惱火。我覺得我們從一起床就自動進入攻擊模式。所有那些英國式的茶杯禮儀,誇張的“請”和“謝 謝”,只是給我們的急性子上一個“口套”罷了。比方說,在各種語調的“抱歉”中,只有一個是真的指“我很抱歉。”
我最近採訪了我們的市長鮑里斯·約翰遜(Boris Johnson)。也許你來到這裡的時候他已經是“前市長”了。我們很快就要進行選舉了,我們同樣討厭這種強加於人的制度,以及所有可能由此帶來的改造工程。
我告訴他我正在寫這個選題,並問他,如果讓美國人樂於到訪,有哪些信息是他希望以兄弟般的口吻向他們傳達的。“嗯,哦,這點非常重要,”他以一種微 弱的、丘吉爾式的語調說道:(其實他出生在紐約。)“嗯,遊客可以租一輛單車遊覽公園。”倫敦的交通工具有時是指 “鮑里斯單車”(以他的名字命名的一項 單車計劃),這項計劃出人意料地在跌跌撞撞中獲得了成功——租車方便,簡單易用,並且能夠真切感受到英國國民保健制度的優越性。
倫敦的公園的確很棒,有很多人工雕琢的景觀。就像英國人,雖然表面看起來很隨意,但其實添加了大量的修飾。去海德公園和彼得·潘的故鄉肯辛頓花園 (Kensington Gardens)看看,你可以在九曲湖(Serpentine,也作“蛇形湖”)畔看到彼得·潘的雕像。這是最具魅力的城市雕像之一,由喬治·弗蘭普頓爵 士(Sir George Frampton)創作,J. M. 巴里(J. M. Barrie)資助,是趁着夜色悄悄矗立起來的,所以第二天被保姆帶出門的孩子們還以為是魔法顯靈了。
倫敦是世界上最出色的公共雕塑城市之一。到處都是馬和偉人向你投來偉大的其實已被歷史遺忘的目光。當你去特拉法加廣場(Trafalgar Square)時,毫無疑問你會仰望納爾遜紀念碑(Nelson’s Column),海軍上將霍雷肖·納爾遜(Adm. Horatio Nelson)從那裡向下凝視,要麼是望向白金漢宮(Buckingham Palace)的卧室窗戶,要麼是巡視他的艦隊,那裡每一根路燈柱頂上都鑄有一艘小船。
你或許也想去附近的國家美術館(National Gallery)外膜拜一下喬治·華盛頓(George Washington),對高雅藝術支付你的懺悔。這尊雕像是弗吉尼亞州贈送的禮物,他就站在那塊美國製造的“領土”上,因為他說過他再也不會踏足倫敦的 土地。也不要錯過廣場西側的查爾斯一世(Charles I)雕像。這是倫敦最精美的騎馬雕像。沿路一直走到國宴廳(Banqueting House),你可以看到當時他被斬首的地方,還有魯本斯(Rubens)的絕世畫作《尊奉詹姆斯一世》( Apotheosis of James I)。
泰晤士河是倫敦最大的秘密,隱藏在眾目睽睽之下。我們對此(或為之)幾乎什麼都沒做,除了抱怨過河很難(無論是從河上還是河下)。整個倫敦都是依河 而建,但人們總是敬而遠之,因為我們有很強的記憶力和更敏銳的嗅覺。泰晤士河曾嚴重發臭並誘發傳染病,以至於國會在盛夏時節要搬離威斯敏斯特宮,因為這氣 味開始變得危險。
倫敦曾是全世界最大的城市,而泰晤士河又曾是地球上最大的污水河。到維多利亞時代終於建造了一個高效的地下排水系統,我們沿用至今。但是當時也建造 了河堤,把整個城市提升到了河流之上。親近這條河並非易事,但是如果你在這裡只做一件事,那麼你應該從市中心搭船,要麼去下游的格林威治的海事博物館 (maritime museum),要麼往上游的牛津方向走,在皇家植物園(Kew Gardens)和賽昂宮(Syon House)下船。
河流往往是觀賞一座城市的最佳方式。倫敦就像人類地質學一般在你的兩側展開。倫敦不是一個適合從高處觀全景的城市;不像巴黎或紐約那樣,雖然你也可 以爬到櫻草花山(Primrose Hill)上或者去漢普特斯西斯公園(Hampstead Heath)回望,享受一步一風景帶來的夢幻般的美妙。華茲華斯說過,地球上沒有一處景色能夠與威斯敏斯特大橋上的清晨美景相媲美。200年後的今天,風 景已大不相同,但仍令人難以忘懷。 對於到訪倫敦的遊客來說,最大的問題就是面積。這是個很大的地方,步行不太方便。有很多步行道,但是如果從一個地方到 另一個地方只靠走路是不行的,而且也很容易迷路。所以最好還是入鄉隨俗吧,把倫敦想成一個鬆散的國度,包括村莊、州,還有領地,一次只去一個地方。最古老 的城區在東部。倫敦塔和羅馬牆是這個城市的起源。往東走是碼頭和勞動階級的聚居地,現在是倫敦最新潮、最年輕和時尚的地區。隨着倫敦變得富裕,西部也發展 起來了。梅費爾、切爾西、肯辛頓、諾丁山大都是在維多利亞時代興起的。
我知道你肯定要當個被宰的遊客。我不知道怎麼才能說服你——觀賞塔橋(Tower Bridge)的最佳方式是買張明信片。倫敦塔(Tower of London)是一個巨大又沉悶的盒子,裡面都是意大利的小學生。其實哈羅茲百貨公司(Harrods)也差不多。雖然最好避開倫敦人多的地方,但可以去 憑弔一些已逝的人。聖保羅大教堂(St. Paul’s Cathedral )是倫敦的教區教堂,也是英國規模最大的教堂,由克里斯托弗·雷恩(Christopher Wren)設計。它簡潔、文明、理性、仁慈——有着所有倫敦人不具備的品格。那裡有J. M. W. 特納(J. M. W. Turner)、威靈頓公爵(Duke of Wellington)以及約翰·多恩(John Donne)的紀念碑,約翰·多恩還曾在這裡佈道。在祭壇後面是一個小的紀念教堂和彩色玻璃窗,用於紀念美國在二戰中為倫敦和英國所提供的援助。
西敏寺(Westminster Abbey)是英國的一座大教堂(威斯敏斯特教堂)。那裡有無名戰士紀念碑(Grave of the Unknown Warrior)、愛德華一世加冕寶座,風格令人驚異得與宜家(Ikea)接近,上面還布滿了威斯敏斯特小學生的塗鴉;還有詩人角(Poets’ Corner)——安葬着英國文豪們的大理石大廳。沿着聖保羅大教堂(St. Paul’s)往下走,會看到另一個雷恩設計的教堂——聖布里奇教堂(St. Bride’s),從傳統和實踐上來說,它也被稱為“記者教堂”。德萊頓(Dryden)和佩皮斯(Pepys)曾是教區居民。前面上方是一個小架子,放 着一個女孩的半身像。她叫維吉尼亞·戴爾 (Virginia Dare)。她的父母在這裡結婚,之後遷移到羅納克島殖民地。1587年8月18日,維吉尼亞出生了,她是第一個由英國父母在美國生下的孩子。沒有人知道 她遭遇了什麼,但這箇舊時代的感人的小雕像象徵著對新時代的許諾。1000個倫敦人里,也不會有一個人知道維吉尼亞是誰,或者她的雕像就放在那兒。
當然,你還應該感受一下酒吧。就像巴黎那些小酒館一樣,倫敦的酒吧也在艱難度日。酒吧作為勞動階級的“起居室”,已經比不上坐在家裡的起居室,在那 裡你還能看着有線電視,喝着超市的啤酒。但是倫敦仍然有一些漂亮並帶有哀傷氣息的酒吧,你應該嘗試和它們邂逅。不過,我要推薦一下倫敦東區河邊的“五月 花”(Mayflower)酒吧,它比和它同名的“五月花號”船還要古老,那艘船就是從這裡起航的。肯辛頓的溫莎城堡(Windsor Castle)是倫敦西部的一個漂亮的酒吧。在天氣好的時候,那裡的花園非常迷人。
我覺得我應該推薦一些餐廳,因為倫敦也是美食的集中地與餐飲大百科全書,自稱擁有比任何一個城市更豐富的美食。但是既然你千里迢迢不僅僅是為了來吃 中國菜或摩洛哥菜,你還可以嘗到很棒的英國菜。英式菜肴以肉為主,兼具維多利亞風格,擅長烹調豬肉、牛腿肉、豬腿以及下水。我推薦三家餐廳:在老維克劇院 (Old Vic theater)附近的Anchor & Hope,它在卡特街(The Cut),有很棒的食物和活力四射的酒吧;背對皮卡迪利大街(Piccadilly)的Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill;還有St. John,這家餐廳已經成為了廚師遊客的朝聖地。你真應該嘗試一下那裡的印度菜。咖喱是英格蘭人最喜歡的晚餐,也算是我們的“國菜”。
有很多人會去購物,但是東西都太貴了。邦德街(Bond Street)和斯隆街(Sloane Street)上的大部分東西在你的國家也能找到。你不難發現,貪婪的“第一世界”國家早已經變成了充斥各種品牌、與其他國家並無二致的機場休息室。
不過有一樣英國獨有的特色,尤其是在倫敦,就是男裝定製。這裡可以製作西裝,而且仍然比世界上任何一個地方做得都要好。來薩維爾街(Savile Row)逛上一圈,是非常典型的倫敦體驗。令人滿足又驚人地昂貴,但又具有危險的誘惑力。我推薦薩克維爾街的Brian Russell,這是一家很少見的由女裁縫經營的店,店主叫法迪亞·奧恩(Fadia Aoun)。
你還要看看倫敦的夜景,尤其是劇院的夜景,而不僅僅是享受夜生活。倫敦的夜晚比白天更美。這是一座很安全的城市,在日落後,你可以步行到大部分的地 方。這裡有一種沉靜的、鬼魅般的美麗。在柔和的微光下,你不僅能看清她當下的樣貌,還有她的曾經——過往生活的每一個層面。一些人的存在意義,似乎是專為 活在今天的我們做出一些事情。這裡飄蕩着至少15個幽靈。在大多數地方,你不會注意到他們,但是在倫敦,你會感受得到。比如夏洛克·福爾摩斯 (Sherlock Holmes)和福士塔夫(Falstaff,出自莎士比亞同名喜劇——譯註)、奧利弗·特維斯特(Oliver Twist,出自《霧都孤兒》——譯註)、溫蒂和遺失的男孩們(Wendy and the Lost Boys,出自《彼得·潘與溫蒂》)的虛構的靈魂——所有這些在夜晚陪伴你的,善意的、嘮叨的幽靈。泰晤士河像一條深色的絲帶,穿流過倫敦的中心地帶,塔 橋在燈光下起舞。狂歡的西區和蘇豪區也有寂靜的角落;夜色中,狐狸和貓頭鷹藉著煤氣燈的微光,結伴在海德公園漫步。
現在奧運會要到了,我們被拉到了強光之下,倫敦受到了太多關注,我們並不習慣這樣。我們不擅長炫耀,我們也沒有準備好接受所有人的目光,我們也不是 個很容易搞定的約會對象。從本質上來說,倫敦不是一隻“派對動物”,它不會主動加入派對,也沒有拿手的卡拉OK曲。倫敦有的只是一種邪惡的、沉悶的,有時 甚至是殘酷的“幽默感”。它聰明,有深厚的文學和戲劇素養;它內向、沉默寡言,又出奇地多愁善感。它屬於慢熱型,在生人面前笨手笨腳。當所有的忙亂和紛擾 離開之後,我們會很高興。
A.A.Gill是《名利場》(Vanity Fair)的特約編輯,也是《星期日泰晤士報》(The Sunday Times of London)的特稿作者。他有一本關於美國的新書將由西蒙舒斯特國際出版公司(Simon & Schuster)在2013年出版。