Forgot to Look Both Ways

Look Right

We interrupt David’s stream of consciousness about air travel for this important message.

You know how in Britain they drive on the opposite side of the street than in the States? And how back home we always look to the left for oncoming traffic before crossing? Well, London has clearly had its fair share of befuddled Americans walking into traffic, seeing as it painted helpful suggestions on the pavement as to which way to look at almost every intersection. Earlier today, while crossing the Strand to get to the Courtald Gallery, David unfortunately missed this warning to “look right.” And with David, you can only imagine what happened. So his blog posts will still be published while we’re in London–but on a slightly delayed schedule.

P.S. David made me write this blog entry because he’s embarrassed that he’s already fallen behind on his writing. He’s absolutely, perfectly fine. He just wanted to drum up some sympathy for himself as a way of diverting you from the fact that he’s been a bad blogger. So just play along. Please? For my sake. You have no idea what it’s like being in the same room with him when he’s like this.

David Leite's signature



  1. Drum up some sympathy? Really? We are all crying that poor David (and you) are trouncing around Europe like hungry vagabonds. Yeah. I do sympathize, my dears. But glad to hear that David is all right… and I just have to tell this story. A very long time ago, my husband had to go to Scotland on business and stayed in a little bed & breakfast in the country. He rented a car (both car and road the wrong side). He pulled out of the b & b parking lot and took a roundabout in the wrong direction and crashed into a local’s car. The guy got out, asked if JP was all right, surveyed the damage (minimal) and basically wished my husband a good day. My husband, a bit astonished, asked him why he was so calm, understanding and friendly instead of being upset. And the guy looked at him and said “Because we get lots of tourists here and frankly this happens every single day. We are just used to it.” So see?

    And I cannot wait to read about your exciting travels!

    1. Jamie, this is just the tonic I needed today, as I’m sick beyond belief. Thanks to you, I laughed so hard my lungs aren’t nearly so congested, if you know what I mean.

    2. We rented a car years ago in Wales, and I drove. Every time we were coming to a roundabout, we all had to say out loud which way to go. Silly, but it worked. BTW, we missed you in Mont-St-Michel.

      1. I think that’s brilliant having everyone say the direction out loud! And I am kicking myself having missed the invite to meet you guys there. What a fun time we would’ve had and even JP would’ve loved the mini vacation. Now I’m trying to figure out how to get to Connecticut! Hope you are well, David!

        1. We will welcome you with open arms, my dear, whenever you decide to visit. We’re thinking of popping by Nantes soon, but since Oct. 4th next year is our 20th anniversary, we’re considering Buenos Aires. So it might be after that. (Alas, I’m still sick. So sick, I’m stuck in CT and The One in NY on this, our 19th anniversary!)

  2. David (and The One), I look upon stepping out in front of a bus on my first day in London as something of a travel tradition. ;) I’m bad with spatial things, hard for me to change the habits of a lifetime, but when I do…it took almost a month back here, following two weeks driving around England, before I could come to an intersection and make my turn into the correct lane without waiting for another car to come along and clue me in as to just *which* lane was the correct one. Man, crossed wires!

    Glad to hear this was only a ploy. Keep having fun. That’s the best reason I can think of for procrastination.

    1. Ruthie, luckily we weren’t driving in England. A million years ago I drove David and our dear friends Matty and Janet around Wales and the English countryside. When I got home, I had the same issue!

      And about David’s ploy, as the song says, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen….”

    1. Yes, ’tis true. But you know very well what this means, Christine: Suddenly my take on things won’t be gospel anymore. I’m sure he’ll want to put in his two cents–even about your marvelous food (and these popovers, which are the finest I’ve seen made by a home cook.)

      Christine's Popovers

  3. Oh my yes, David, I can relate. I am lucky enough to be married to a wonderful Brit and spent 8 charming years living in the UK. My 20-year-old niece was put in my care when she came to work for my husband, and I was terrified the entire year she was there that she would just step out on instinct while looking the other way. Luckily she survived, and all is saved between sisters. But I have yet to confess to the incident of her running and jumping to catch a double decker bus and missing! Just a few scrapes and bruises but terribly wounded pride. So…look both directions and NO running to catch those beautiful red buses. Do enjoy your tour and make a visit to St. John on my behalf.

    1. Colleen, ouch. Ouch. Lord knows if I jumped for a bus, I probably would have run right into the side; I never had a very good sense of aim. Just ask my Little League colleague, Mr. Hibbert. I must ay The One had such a lovely time in your husband’s homeland. We loved it. We loved it so much we’re already planning our trip back.

  4. It’s a terrible thing to be a Type A drama queen, David. But significantly more challenging to travel with one! The One, I’m FedExing the canonization papers to the Vatican right now. Try to relax and have fun, already!

    1. Suzanne, this is exactly what The One doesn’t need: sympathizers and court crashers. With anymore of our traitorous ministrations, and I’ll be dethroned.

  5. This is hysterical. Oh, not your plight, David, but The One has done so well in your stead and I do sympathize with him. I can just imagine you. I am not laughing at you but with you. Are you laughing? I want to hear more from The One.

    1. Donna, darling, I hear your good-natured laugh. Yes, I was all fainting couches and “why-has-the-entire-city-of-London-conspired-to-get-ME” kind of thinking. (There are shades of Mitchell and Cam from “Modern Family” in our relationship to be sure.) The One is so used to my fits of over-dramatizing, he just gives me a patronizing pat on the knee and goes on reading his book. That is–until he almost got flattened by a motorcycle later that same day. Then suddenly there were two of us bemoaning the British travel system, which is older than the United States.

  6. Glad David’s OK. Thanks to The One for keeping us informed while David’s gathering his self. Hoping for a safe and fun trip for you both.

    1. Joan, all is well, thank you so much. David is 100 percent fine, except he’s having to much fun to blog. (It’s just him being dramatic.)

  7. Sure. I’ll play along. The “Mind the Gap” and “Mind Your Head” signs are quaint but helpful throughout the UK. Much of the time those signs are found in gorgeous, ancient and atmospheric castles. I love the UK and have been fortunate to visit Wales, England and Scotland several times. Driving in the UK can be chaotic. Our first time my husband had to get used to the gear shift to his left and the gears were opposite, too. Not only that but driving on tiny narrow roads between stone walls with no “ditches”, trying to avoid hitting dogs and sheep, entering roundabouts (which we love – wish we had those here) and navigating can be rather tricky. Sometimes as a passenger you just have to close your eyes and hope for the best. Now my husband is proficient driving throughout Europe, except perhaps in tiny villages with streets so narrow that at one point our mirrors on our rental car scraped buildings on BOTH SIDES at the same time (in Sicily).

    Anyway, “Look Right” brings back fond memories of London and of travel in general. We are heading off on our own European adventure next week and are excited.

    So, David, be good and keep safe. Enjoy London.

    1. Brenda, driving in the UK! I will never do it again. I drove David and our friends Matty and Janet through England and Wales. Too many opposite-side things to keep track of. And those roundabouts? I can’t tell you how many times I went around and around trying to inch my way off to the exit! I applaud your husband.

      1. Driving in Bawstan is just as treacherous. The roundabouts & the honking horns and hand gestures! Once was enough for me. A friend who went to Harvard described Bawstan driver as “animals.” There’s no place like home…

          1. David…perhaps you need to rest a tad more. You would rather drive in Portugal than Boston? As my dear husband says, we Portuguese are very nice people, until we get behind the wheel and then think we’re all Mario Andrettis…

    1. He’s fine, Eydie. Just a little shaken up and desperately trying to vamp until he gets another post published.

  8. I did the same thing when I was in Australia. My friend had to yank me back onto the sidewalk a few times to avoid disaster.

  9. Ouch!! My niece and nephew lived in Japan for a few years [USAF brats] and had to be heavily instructed that in the USA you couldn’t just raise your hand in the air and start across the streets!!!

    1. CateS, I love the idea of that. As a real estate broker who walks all over Manhattan, being able to raise my hand and part traffic like the Red Sea would be an excellent boon to work.

  10. When I lived in Oxford as a student (many years ago), I recall being on the bike (my preferred mode of transportation) and often buses madly honking at me as I turned, and my instinct was to go to the “wrong” side of the street. Amazingly enough I never ended up hurt but certainly had a few scares. And back then, there were no painted warnings on the pavement reminding foreigners which side of the street to ride on! I can see that The One has a great side of sarcasm, too. And I love his bio!

    1. Sofia, I couldn’t imagine being on a bike, because you have to drive with the traffic, which means your back is to everything. And, yes, The One can be very sarcastic and snarky. Part of why I love him.

    2. OOH! This reminds me. When we were driving somewhere on one of those very narrow country roads with the high hedgerows on either side, there was a huge truck (pantechnicon?) coming our way, going right down the middle. Momentary panic! Would we fit? EEEK! But, yes, we did. However, when we got to our hotel and saw the scratches all down the RIGHT side of the car, it was fairly obvious that in my freak out I automatically reverted to my U.S. ways, and swerved to the right. Thank goodness the truck managed to avoid us, so the only damage was that inflicted by the hedgerow. /:)

      1. Holy go to war! That’s scary. I think the answer is Britain just has to join the rest of the world in its driving habits. Think of the fewer saucer-eyed drivers with an iron grip on the steering wheel there would be.

  11. I’d have probably done the same thing, David. I’d have read the sign first, though, and after fluffing my hair and smoothing out my skirt so I looked right, I’d have stepped off the curb…looking left.

    1. And you know what’s worse? Sometimes it’s a one way…coming from the left. So there are time you have to do what comes naturally, and other times not. It’s been four days, and we’re starting to get the hand of it.

  12. Oh my gosh!

    I almost got side-swipped in Scotland in 2009 while there for my son’s wedding to a Scottish girl!

    In Canada we look the same way you do in the States but in Scotland I could feel the swish of air as this vehicle narrowly missed me…coming from the RIGHT, of all places!! :) I would appreciate a cue, like “look right” but I wonder…should we be marking our streets with “look left” cues for our visitors? :)

    Hope David is all right and is JUST a bad blogger!


    1. Almost flattened in Edinburgh, I certainly can relate to your near-death experience. I almost met my maker yesterday, too, when I looked left and a motorcycle came zooming from the right. (I think he actually was trying to kill me…)

      The only thing bruised on David is his ego.

  13. Oh no! Are you OK?!

    I know you are, David. The One just said so. But oh, The One, stuck in the same room with David, post-incident-that-could-have-been-an-incident-but-was-in-the-end-a-non-incident. Do you need a Scotch?

    P.S. David, I hope your room has a fainting couch.

    Hugs to you both.

    1. I’m okay, Beth. It’s just I had a very strict schedule I was to adhere to: play all day, write a blog post at night. Well, that when out the window as we spent the whole day and a lot of the night sightseeing. So I’m hoping I can use part of the cruise to catch up everyone. (How do those young bloggers to it?)

  14. I was in Hong Kong a couple of months ago, on my way home to Australia after being in Europe, and noticed the same thing painted on many street corners there. It was actually quite handy as it’s easy to become confused after 4 weeks in Italy/France, 5 days in London, then another few days in Honkers – or maybe that’s just me!

    1. Amanda, with all that globe trotting, I can see how you could get confused. I’m surprised you made it out alive!

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