London Diary

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by Gene Callahan by Gene Callahan

OK, I’ve settled in a bit here in the UK, so I’m sending off my first dispatch to

Day Four

  • British pubs are notably different than US bars in terms of how devoted the patrons are to conversation. At 5PM in a London pub, the volume of noise produced by the multitude of conversations occurring is startling to anyone accustomed to US bars.

  • Marlboro Lights here have brown filters: What’s up with that?

  • The way I cope with crossing British roads – where they drive on the wrong side, as you know – is by frantically swinging my head back and forth in both directions.

Day Six

  • One great aspect of being at the London School of Economics: I’m writing this sitting in the Lionel Robbins library; my department is housed in the Imre Lakatos building and was founded by Karl Popper; one of the staff is holding the Lachmann Chair; soon I’ll be seeing Pete Boettke deliver the Hayek Memorial Lecture; and the second holder of the chair in politics was Michael Oakeshott.

Day Eight

  • Over here, if you want to emphasize something, you turn it into a question. For example, LSE hasn’t issued me a student ID yet. I was about to try to make copies at the student copy center, and I imagined answering, in response to a request for my ID: “They haven’t issued me one yet, have they?”

  • I went down to Picadilly Circus. Not only did I not see Marcus, I couldn’t find the circus at all – no tents, no clowns, no elephants! My advice is, “Don’t bother.”

  • In the suburb to which I just moved, there is an eatery called – I’m not making this up – “New Jersey Chicken.” All right, what the heck is “New Jersey chicken”? I grew up 100 miles from NJ, and I’ve never heard of such a dish or style. Do you get a little map of the turnpike carved into your roaster?

  • And the breakfast place nearby offers “Bubble and Squeak” on its menu. I have to order that one day, just to find out what it is.

  • The sidewalks in London seem to be made of some specially polished stone – but that’s OK, because it’s not like it rains here often or anything.

  • The headline in today’s Daily Mirror promised a profile of “Britain’s Worst Pedophile.” Maybe tomorrow they will follow up with one of “Britain’s Best Pedophile.”

Day Ten

  • I saw Tony Blair on TV today saying that the invasion of Iraq was necessary because “sanctions weren’t working.” I agree. Saddam had merely been reduced to having zero weapons of mass destruction. Clearly, the only sign of the sanctions working would have been if he had had a large negative number of WMDs.

  • A block from LSE I found Drury Lane. I’ve been searching up and down it for the Muffin Man – no sign of him yet, but I’ll keep looking.

  • Also near LSE is a building declaring itself, in very large letters, to contain “The Government of Gibraltar.” What is it doing way up here? Oughtn’t it to be down in Gibraltar?

  • The first few days here, I would look outside in the morning to see if it was going to rain. I’ve learned to stop doing that: It is going to rain, however the morning may try to deceive you with its bright and sunny appearance.

  • It turns out New Jersey chicken means really dry, overcooked chicken.

October 8, 2004

Gene Callahan [send him mail], the author of Economics for Real People, is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a contributing columnist to

Gene Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives

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