London you never read: The outtakes

By Laura Grimes

The Pantsless Brother was passing through town recently, but I was prepared this time. Gas or no gas, I found him some pants. Whatcha think?

Party pants for The Pantsless Brother

A clever friend sent the photo to me, and she can’t remember where it came from. Gotta love those flames on top of the head. But is that … smoke coming from those ruffled BVDs?

The Pantsless Brother is now so concerned I’ll further inflame his reputation that he regularly will go on about some crazy tale and then say … “Don’t write about that.” or “I don’t want that showing up in your blog.” or “You don’t get to blog about that.”

But recently he showed up at my house … with oysters, so I’ll forgive him …  and talked over my head to Mr. Scatter. “Wasn’t that a funny story in the blog about the plugged toilet in London? Oh that’s right, you didn’t read about it in the blog! Because she didn’t write about it!”

Mr. Don’t Write About That has been nagging me endlessly about all the London stories that I didn’t write about. Like telling me about the conversation he had with the woman we call — simply — Mom.

“You talked to Laura on the phone? She didn’t tell you about London? She didn’t tell you about the plugged toilet? She didn’t tell you that she called me a [expletive deleted]* only once? You know, the blog has only the sanitized version.”

Like I didn’t write enough about London already. Like Mr. Don’t Write About That who’s worried about his reputation appears to want the real dirt. So, just for him, here are the outtakes. (Mr. Scatter calls them the leftovers, but that sounds like spoiled meat.)


It’s true that my contagious plumbing disease followed me to London. (Don’t tell our generous landlord!) There’s not a lot of hilarity to report except the toilet got stuck. We didn’t have a plunger. “We” spent a half day trying to unstick it. (Ahem, I wrote a bunch while …) The PB poured gallons of warm water into the bowl and then I walked in, put my hand on the handle and just as The PB squealed “Don’t do that!” I flushed the toilet and it unstuck.

(I’m sure The PB has a different version of the story, but he’s not typing it, is he? I’m so glad he nagged me to write about it.)

The next day The PB asked, “What’s that card on the counter?” I picked up a business card and read the note scrawled on it. “If you have plumbing or electrical problems call [this guy].”

“Oh, now we find it.”

In case you missed my past bouts with plumbing mayhem, you can find them here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and I told you it was contagious. I had no idea there were so many either. And that’s not even the steamy shower scenes!


Speaking of plumbing issues … I ate a strong curry dish on the flight over to London and it took a few days for my stomach to calm down. When I asked about antacids at a small food store, a young guy with a non-English accent bunched up his face and asked, “Is it for pets?”

“No. Antacids.”

“Is it to get rid of ants?”

I was too embarrassed to explain anymore and let it go.


I had very little luck with coffee in London. An Americano came as a latte. A latte came as a cappuccino.

I was thankful for the coffee pot in the kitchen until I tried to use it. It was the prettiest, fanciest coffee pot I had ever seen. It was a sleek stainless steel model with fancy buttons and a timer and a spotless brass filter.

The only ground coffee I could find at the nearby food store was Starbucks. Fine, I figured. A taste of home. So I poured the coffee into the filter and filled the machine with water. But when I pushed the button nothing happened. I fiddled with more buttons. Nothing. I checked the plug. Nothing. I read the directions. Still nothing. I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled and never got that dang fancy machine to work. I swear it wasn’t complicated but broken.

So that Starbucks coffee? It ended up in my suitcase and I brought it back home. Yes, from Seattle to Portland, via London.


This one’s for the woman we call — simply — Mom. You know that doting son of yours? The one who wanted the unsanitized version? Read on.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Covent Garden.”

I got out the guidebook, Rick Steves’ London (the best art museum guidebook, hands down, btw, because I compared them all), and read out loud:

This boutique-ish shopping district is a people-watcher’s delight, with cigarette eaters, Punch-and-Judy acts, food that’s good for you (but not your wallet), trendy crafts, sweet whiffs of marijuana, two-tone hair (neither natural), and faces that could set off a metal detector.

“Why are we going there?”

“I need to get something for Mom.”


“Can I have your moist towelette?”

The PB didn’t even bother to give me a puzzled look. He was stuffed from terrific Indian food we didn’t discover until our last night right down the street from our flat.

“A friend back home collects moist towelettes. He has ones from all over the world.”

That got an eyebrow raise. (When I sent it to my friend, I made sure to include a note about where I got it so he would have proper provenance.)

I picked up the little packet. “Look! It’s called a ‘Refreshing Wet Towel.’ ”

I turned it over. “And it says here ‘Gives you hygienic, clean and refreshing moist feeling.’ ”


I could write more outtakes/leftovers/spoiled meat, but I’d hate to ruin that “clean and refreshing moist feeling.” If you’re really good, sometime I’ll tell you about the virgin squeegee.


Wave back to JoJo by moving your cursor over the photo and holding it there to find out where he is.

JoJo insisted on his own outtake/leftover/spoiled meat. He waves from Trafalgar Square.


*I was 11 when I got hold of the paperback version of the Nixon Watergate tapes and every page was riddled with “[expletive deleted].” I had no idea what an “[expletive deleted]” was. I had never heard it before. My dad used a lot of words, especially when he worked on the car, but never that. But the President of the United States said it a lot. With brackets even. “[Expletive deleted]” sounded racy and a bit naughty, perhaps more so because of the brackets, and I have wanted to use it ever since. Mr. Don’t Write About That? I’m sorry if I called you an [expletive deleted]. Even if you did deserve it.