1 – Covent Garden is a spelling mistake – it was actually meant to be ‘Convent Garden’ but unfortunately someone missed out on the alphabet ‘n’. Since it home to the Westminster Abbey, the name ‘Convent’ is apt for an area that has so much to offer to all age-groups. Having tired of shopping, learning about history and sampling the various cuisines in restaurants do sit down and catch your breath while watching the street performers showcasing their amazing skills.
2 – London was nearly completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1750 when tremors on 8th February and then again a month later on 8th March caused chimneys to fall off, tiles to be dislodged violently and roofs to collapse. Although this earthquake was not regarded as being as destructive as some of its other counterparts, its significance lay in the fact that it had revealed the presence of an active fault line right under central London.
3 – In 1950 everybody could call Winston Churchill – his number was in the public phone book but then not many families at that time had the benefit of using Thomas Bell’s invention. Usage of telephone was a luxury that was granted only to a selected few and hence in spite of his number being listed in the phone book, he may not have received many calls. And definitely not an unending stream of service messages or telemarketing packages.
4 – The Great Fire of London in 1666 raged for three days and consumed everything in its path from churches to slums and important landmarks. Having started in a bakery, it quickly spread courtesy of the wooden buildings that made up the city during that era and stopped just short of crossing the River Thames. Looking at it from an optimistic point view it purged the city of disease and filth and paved the way for ingenuity of the celebrated architect Christopher Wren.
5 – Waterloo Bridge was built by women during the Second World War in a bid to re-establish the age-old connection between the two banks of River Thames. Although today this fact is proudly proclaimed by people as being the ‘Ladies Bridge’, officially there is no record of the names of women who accomplished this feat and nor was their effort acknowledged at that time.
6 – French Toast is ‘eggy bread’ because basically it comprises of bread soaked in a froth of beaten eggs suitably garnished as per the taste and preference of the person to whom it is to be served. The common notion underlying this difference in terminology is attributed to the effort made by the English to create an indigenous term for a snack imported from across the Gibraltar.
7 – If a city is to be judged on the basis of its cultural and ethnic diversity then London would probably score the highest since as many as 25% of its inhabitants are such that they were born in another country but have made this city their home. The outcome is cultural and linguistic diversity like none other with over 300 languages being spoken and upheld.
8 – The English are tea addicts and it is truly difficult to figure out when it transformed from being a social habit to assume the shape of an addiction. While an Englishman drinks more tea than any person of any other nation, the nation as a whole consumes as many as 165 million cups of this beverage every day. Some of the slang words that are used for indicating the need for a cup are brew, cuppa, cha and Rosie Lee.
9 – Singing a song or ballad that might sound profane or even remotely obscene in any street in London might land you in jail in the same way as maintaining a visible and prominent pigsty in your front yard and not making any effort to conceal it. No-one actually knows how this law came into being or what the reason that prompted its creation was but it has endured till this day and is required to be observed by the city dwellers.
10 – It is illegal for a cab in London to carry rabid dogs or corpses. While dogs are the responsibility of the dog owner, in case of corpses the law is unclear since instances of taxi drivers throwing their lifeless victims out into the street have never been heard of.