<p>Brenda &#38; I have to be the only two people in the history of the universe that can go away to friggin&#8217; London, and come home with suntans.  It&#8217;s true though; the last three weeks in NYC sported weather that tried very hard to emulate that of Seattle, and then upon our arrival in the U.K. our perfect weather record was extended&#8212;eight days in the U.K. in three years, and not a single drop of rain and only one day of overcast&#8212;so yeah, my pasty skin picked up a little color.  Nice.  I&#8217;ll take it.  But I&#8217;m also being very cautious to file away these memories with the understanding that my perception of the U.K. is viewed through increasing layers of rose-colored filters.  Anyplace looks great when you&#8217;re not working, drinking good beer, and bathed in sunshine.  I know this.  I just need to remember this tomorrow when I&#8217;m on the 8:13 express to Penn Station, as my blood pressure rises.</p>

<p>Some of the most delightful real ales can be had in Bath, England.  I do believe that is what I will miss the most.  &#8220;<a href="http://www.camra.co.uk/">Real ales</a>&#8221; are those brews that give England its &#8220;warm, flat beer&#8221; perception by the <a href="http://www.mulletsgalore.com/motw/index.html">Budweiser-swilling, beer-bellied NASCAR fans</a> crawling the earth.  The &#8220;cold, fizzy beer&#8221; lovers of America have no idea that they have been duped, Bush/Cheney/Powell/Rumsfeld-style, into believing that cold &#38; fizzy are actually attributes of quality, right up there with lack of flavor and low-grade ingredients.  But <a href="http://www.camra.co.uk/">real ales</a>, served at the proper temperature and pressurization, are a sensory delight.  Bath even has a nice variation on the traditional pint glass, a taller, more cylindrical variant reminiscent of a beaker.  I like that for some reason.  I invite you to examine the <a href="http://www.bathales.co.uk">official Bath Ales website</a>, with the caveat that whoever coded the site should seek other work; it&#8217;s a mess in the three browsers I tried it in so far.</p>

<p>If we keep going to the U.K. for vacations, I WILL be run over by a bus.  It&#8217;s only a matter of time. Why do they insist on driving and running their trains in the mirror image of the rest of the world?  It&#8217;s quaint, until a London bus nearly removes your nose from your face.  </p>

<p>Theatre is alive and well in London. For about fourty bucks (twenty five quid) each, Brenda &#38; I were admitted to a magnificent little theatre space, well appointed with new equipment, talented musicians, and talented actors, performing a well-crafted new script under the direction of a talented director, performed on a great set, artfully illuminated.  Why is it that in New York, We must spend double that to see has-been actors slotted into has-been musicals that are being revived, yet-again, because the big-buck theatre-going masses only identify with stuff they&#8217;ve seen before, or actors they&#8217;ve seen before?  People, theatre is supposed to be cathartic.  Please tell me how Tom Wopat can be cathartic, outside of the horrifically bizarre transformation that must happen to one who spends a hundred bucks to see an ex-&#8221;Dukes of Hazzard&#8221; star croon in &#8220;Annie Get your Gun&#8221;.</p>

<p>While on the subject of theatre, here&#8217;s a useful tip.  In England, you have to PAY for programs.  I found this out the embarrassing way when I decided a few moments before the show was to begin that I wanted a program, and why the hell didn&#8217;t the usher just hand us ones when we were directed to our seats already.  I rushed along the row, strolled over the chap, and said &#8220;programs?&#8221;  He said &#8220;just one?&#8221;, but I heard &#8220;Just one.&#8221;, thinking &#8220;oh, jeez, he only sees me, Brenda&#8217;s back in her seat, so he&#8217;s only gonna give me one program; what a cheapskate.&#8221;  I took the one, and scurried back to my seat.  Before my ass hit the cushion, this guy was in my face saying quite politely &#8220;that&#8217;s one pound fifty sir,&#8221;, but I could see he was thinking &#8220;you idiot&#8221;.  Well, you learn something new every day, yeah?</p>