I used to think that going home (as in America, the land of giant portions, radical religious movements and Cool Whip) took a minimum of 11 hours, by the time you add the trip to Heathrow, security, flight time, passport control and luggage collection. Okay, maybe 9 if you go through First Class check in and Fast Track security. But 20 minutes? I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t done it yesterday. How did I manage such a feat? No, not private jet. Taxi. To Westfield Mall.
H decided yesterday that he wanted to do a “family outing.” Right there I was suspicious. He loves his family, but loves lying down even more. If he’s not at the office, he’s usually somewhere in the house, taking up space, creating litter and not moving much. But surfing the internet led to an interesting discovery: somewhere in town there is a Lego store and an Apple store, within 100 yards of each other! This, he had to see. So seconds later, I had the kids in the pram and a taxi at the door.
20 minutes later, we were in an elevator. And seconds later the lift doors opened. If you had asked me right then and there where I was, I would have said, “Minneapolis.” My jaw had dropped. Miles of indoor shopping, everything I could want. Food Courts. Tiffany’s. Hugo Boss. Boots! No rain soaked days fighting my way down Oxford Street. No pushing past tourists ogling the lights on Regent Street and blocking the sidewalk. This was a mall. American style. Proper, clean, bright, warm, noisy, and wonderful, complete with large toilet stalls. I couldn’t have been any more at home.
Even the people could have been from the Midwest: make-up a little too thick, hair a little severe, uneducated accents dancing in my ears. Okay, maybe the overhead announcements had a touch of private school to them. And perhaps we had lunch at Eat and not Annie’s Pretzels, but this is as close as I’m going to get living on this side of the pond. The Westfield touch is amazing, right down to the idiot maintenance crew they hired. “Excuse me, but where is Waitrose?” H asked. “Whatcha mean?” replied the average-looking but clearly uncomprehending kid with the cleaning trolley. Ah, home sweet home.