One of the things that Natasha remarked upon her return from Rostov is that people you see on the streets appear to be better dressed over there than in London. I was obviously skeptical, instantly recalling that I even made an argument in the past that women in London looked very pretty on average partially on the basis of dressing up well in public.
I had to agree, though, that vast majority of London population wraps themselves in blackish/brownish/grayish colors for winter. Natasha’s snowy-white overcoat looks positively blinding on this otherwise drab palette. I had to further logically acquiesce that if Russian population has more colors in their collective winter wardrobe then, certainly, they would appear to dress visibly nicer.
That’s where it got hairy.
Exploring the subject further, Natasha realized that one attribute of winter garments is largely absent on Londoners. Fur. In London type of weather, really, who would ever need a fur coat! Plus, the subject of fur has been rather controversial throughout the western world for quite some time now. Whereas in Russia, traditionally and out of sheer necessity, fur coats and fur-accented garments are commonplace. And those, besides being warmer, are much nicer to look at than dull goose down winter parkas or run-of-the-mill wool overcoats. Unless, you happen to volunteer for PETA, in which case your perception might be rather opposite.
We could not help but confirm these observations while riding on the tube today. In their mass, the London crowd does look pretty dull and nondescript in winter. Conforming to the weather, I guess.
We spent most of the day in St John’s Wood with Anya and Ari. Kimmy and little Ben amused themselves for a while on a large playground, and we also took a stroll through the area, some parts of which are the most well-to-do in London. On the beautiful and quiet Hamilton Terrace, we walked by not one but two parked Ferraris, an Aston Martin, and uncounted Porsches, Mercs and other high-end vehicles. The houses each look like a million bucks and cost likely several million pounds.
Just a few streets away, there are blocks and blocks of social housing. That has no discernible effect on the house and apartment rental prices in St Johns Wood, which, in turn, fails to turn away many expatriates who settle there. The area certainly looks clean, inviting, even serene; it is only several stops on the Jubilee line from the very center of London and lends to an unmistakably urban lifestyle to those who seek that. Too bad we wanted nothing less than a house (and could not even approach to afford renting one in that area). With the exception of accessibility to the Channel Tunnel train for drives to the continent, we would have certainly enjoyed living in St John’s Wood infinitely more than in Mottingham.