London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Cafe in the Crypt and Brass Rubbing

01/06/2003, By Robert Rickman

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 1305 votes

As they say, good music enhances the digestion, and because I skipped breakfast that morning, I was more than ready to start digesting. I tapped my fingers on the guardrail as I descended the stairs to the elegantly lighted, airy crypt (Somehow that doesn't quite scan, does it?). And made a beeline to the refectory (No, it's not some kind of astronomical observatory) where I scanned the menu board until my eyes came to the familiar BLT sandwich - with a strange addition.

In the US, a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich is referred to by the letters: B-L-T. But, the menu board listed a Bacon, Lettuce, SALMON, and Tomato sandwich on French baguette - a BLST, or taking the equation to the nth degree, a BLSTFB. (I call it the Blah-stah-fub)

At first blush, it appeared to be yet another one of those myriad paths to gastronomic distress, which I had been so diligently following since my arrival in London two weeks before. I thought, "I'll be damned if I'm going to ruin my favorite sandwich with a salty piece of dead fish."

But, after careful deliberation, accompanied by vigorous hunger pains, I concluded, " Oh, what the hell, I don't want to live forever." And ordered the BLSTFB with a soda and some crisps, which are potato chips whose name has been changed to confuse the tourists.

Over the lips, and over the gums, look out stomach HERE IT COMES! CRUNCH!

Cafe in the Crypt

A moment of suspense, while the taste buds convey the information to the brain, then: "Tasty - very, very, tasty. " The salmon changed the flavor of the entire sandwich to something different - delicious, but different - even foreign. I am loath to admit it but the BLSTFB is an improvement over the BLT.

Thinking in musical terms after the concert, I concluded that the basic theme was still there, but the overtones had changed dramatically. I munched the BLSTFB in the ambiance created by indirect lighting bouncing off of vaulted ceilings built out of a whitish brick.

The Café decor gives a whole new meaning to the word "crypt". Incidentally, all of the bodies that were buried down there are long gone, probably to make room for the café, gift shop, and Brass Rubbing Centre.

Rub what? Brass.

I saw people at work carefully rubbing what looked to me to be charcoal over paper that was impressed against a brass figure, such as a bust. The artisans were working with concentrated intensity at this esoteric hobby. It struck me as the type of hobby one would expect to see in England; it would attract the type of person who would have the patience of a stamp collector.


It also struck me that brass rubbing would be good therapy for an over-revving, attention deficit, "I want it yesterday" American. And, if he really wants it "yesterday", he could purchase a finished picture, or a brass rubbing kit, to take home to his attention deficit, over-revving family.

As I was passing the gift shop, I experienced a strong deflection of my attention in the direction of a cluttered shelf of paperbacks. One book seemed to be highlighted against the others, and I felt a strong urge to purchase it for Andrea, my friend in Nashville. Did this feeling come from within me or from without? Could there have been some spiritual influence emanating from within this centuries-old church, drawing me to that book? I don't know.

Following that spooky experience I took off for Kings Cross Station - whistling some of what I heard during the concert, as I tapped my fingers to the beat.

At Kings Cross, I found that the cost to keep luggage for the day was £4 per bag, about $6 or $7 using current exchange rates.

This topic occupied a disproportionate share of my thoughts, as I started worrying about the added cost of storing my luggage before the train tomorrow - a cost that would certainly curtail my vacation by several DAYS, if not even WEEKS!

To stop the howling of these obsessive thoughts, I decided not to wrestle with this life-altering decision until tomorrow. And to add to my discomfort, I had the silly feeling that I was spending thousands of dollars on this vacation and then worrying about a six or seven more.

This goes to show that when you spend a lot of money, your natural desire is to economize on the little things as atonement for his sins.

It's kind of like your typical American light lunch: A triple patty Double Bypass Burger with extra cheese, a bucket of fries, piggy onion rings and a continent of hot apple pie topped off with a glacier of ice-cream - all washed down with: A diet Coke.

Robert Rickman

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Re: Cafe in the Crypt and Brass Rubbing

By Paul 02/07/2003, (Rating: 2.9 from 1262 votes)

Brass Rubbings is a fun way to get souvenirs of your trip. I have even chased down the actual gravesites where the mould was made.


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