Visit London... If You Can Get There

View of Parliament, London, England AP

You can't have failed to see those tourist ads on TV, the sides of buses and in the newspaper, urging you to cross the pond and come to Britain for the best vacation you'll ever have. And London, dear old London is at the centre of the campaign. London -- Royalty, Michael Caine, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Shakespeare's Globe, the West End theatres, free Museums. Wonderful.

Or it would be, if it hadn't reached gridlock. What Londoners have always known has been proved as fact in the last couple of days. Street traffic in our capital now crawls along at a maximum of 2.9 miles per hour. Sometimes it's down to 1.6 miles per hour. That's slower than a horse and cart used to travel back two hundred years ago. In fact it's so slow, that when Jack, the CBS driver takes me to Charing Cross station, I can hop out of the car a little ahead of Starbucks, stand in line, order my coffee, Tall capaccino with an extra shot please, pick it up and walk out of the store. By that time, Jack will just about have drawn level with the front of the store.

So, if the roads don't work, how about the subway? Forget it. London's tubes run in tunnels that were built by the likes of Isambard Kingdowm Brunel and antique is one way to describe them. Another is as hot as hades. Research this week has discovered that temperatures in the subway during the rush hour rise to more than a hundred degrees. Now the transport chiefs have taken to having ambulances standing by if there are delays, just in case of passengers suffer from heat exhaustion.

So, if you're coming to London, why not call those nice people at Hyde Park stables behind me... and hire a horse?

  • Bob Bicknell

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