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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Hop On - Hop Off...

Hop On – Hop Off

My sister is organized and has things like itineraries, maps, and guidebooks to make the most of a travel vacation like the one we took to London.  She wanted to see museums, universities, and palaces.

“What do you want to see?” she asked me.

“Er… I hear they have great pubs and fish ‘n’ chips.”  Not that I didn’t think palaces were a great idea too, of course.

The British are very big on tradition and preservation.  Of course, they have a lot of history to preserve.  As one tour guide put it, “If you Americans had paid your taxes, all of this history could be yours.”  Tour guides had an excellent sense of dry humor and could do well in comedy clubs, we concluded.

Even though we spoke the same language, I found the clipped accent difficult and often only understood about half of what was said.  I believe they had a hard time understanding “southern” as well as I often had to repeat myself, very annoying when trying to get through security at the various sites.

Speaking of security, they seem to have an extraordinary amount of it. Metal detectors were common, as were guards and cameras.  I was actually frisked at Parliament for the first time in my life.  Naturally, it was a lady guard and not one of those cute Bobbies they have there.

However, I did feel safe there in the underground and on the streets.  The biggest hazard is traffic. The streets run at odd angles and cross in a haphazard manner.  Sometimes to get across the street, you have to cross several streets.  Intersections had traffic lights and you had better not try to cross at the wrong time, as an unseen double-decker bus could come whizzing around a corner at any moment.

Navigating traffic was further confused by the fact that the British drive on the left side of the street.  Busy intersections in the tourist areas were marked with large letters on the pavement saying “look left” or “look right”.  I understand this is for the benefit of clueless foreign tourists who look the wrong way and have the annoying tendency to get run over.

Since we didn’t have any sleep the previous night and were staggering around with jet lag, even before the pub, my sister’s itinerary said we should not do a lot the first day and should just take a double-decker tour bus and let them do the driving.  There were numerous buses, all painted red and looking similar, which made finding the right one a bit of a challenge, but after asking several different times, we managed to find one.

My hair was blown straight in a matter of minutes and I had bad hair for the rest of the trip regardless of all attempts to fix it. The guided tour was called a “Hop on - Hop off” tour, and you could get on and off at various stops. We got off of the bus to see St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the many fine churches.  We thought the admission was too expensive, and the only good picture-taking was from the middle of the street where the chance of being run down in traffic was about 95%.

We then found a pub, not hard to do since there was one on every corner, and I ordered my first English fish ‘n’ chips, served with a side of green peas. The fish and beer were good, the plumbing bad and flushing a challenge.

So, back to our hot room overlooking the street, no air conditioning, and our first night of horns, sirens, and cursing on the street, compliments of budget travel.  But we were so tired at this point that we could have slept through an air raid.

Copyright 2005 Sheila Moss


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