Visitors to London's working-class east side are required to pay a visit to the Mayor. It's obligatory. Chuck–being a multi-tenure mayor back in the states–is especially obligated to call on the Mayor, as something of a diplomatic courtesy.
The Mayor is shy, perhaps owing to his days underground, avoiding the more official policies and taxes of the city dwellers above. Calling on the Mayor thus requires a unique procedure: you approach the fridge and wait for one of his attendants to ask how they can help you. We had arrived early, so my query was, "Is it too early to see the Mayor?" They went off to check, and a few minutes later the fridge opened, we stepped in, and descended into the Mayor's office.
Perhaps second only to Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, London's pubs are part of what make London special and unique. Americans likely associate a "pub" with a bar, but London's pubs are more a combination of bar, gathering place, and neighborhood restaurant. Financiers and politicians alike crowded the pub across from the Houses of Parliament soon after work when we visited the night before. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, one of London's most unique pubs, filled with Londoners "in the know" of the Mayor's unique peculiarities not long after we arrived.
Of course it's natural to have a pint, which we did waiting for our friends to arrive to join us in honoring the Mayor. Part of the allure of travel is experiencing what we can't at home. In this case it was an ale (Timothy Taylor's) and cider (Aspall) that we've not had before. The other experience is the unique environment of the Mayor's speakeasy, from the portrait of Granmaster Flash to the scaredy-cat version of Edvard Munch's "The Scream".
But of course the principle activity at a London pub is to catch up with friends and colleagues, and we enjoyed great conversation and dinner with fellow travelers and bloggers Brian and Shannon from EverywhereOnce.com. Since we met them for margaritas and dinner back in Atlanta in February (wow, that seems like a long time ago), Brian and Shannon have maxed out their Schengen Visa in Spain and France. We caught up with them in London as they are beginning a 5-month tour of the UK. There's no better pub experience than to drink some ale and compare notes with fellow travelers.
Seemingly too soon we had paid our respects to the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town and it was time to part company: we were off to Portugal the next morning, they were off to continue their tour of the UK. Perhaps the next time we cross paths our experience will be equally unique.