MAN OF THE HOUSE

Conquering London, not-so little daughter in tow

OK, so we go, out of my favorite airport, LA-HEX. After nearly a dozen hours in steerage (limited toilet use, poor food), we land in Londontown, renowned for its sordid and hasty royal weddings (a topic I know a little something about).

And we are off. . . .

We take London like two Vikings. I like to lead the way, but so does the lovely and patient older daughter. As the eldest of four, she doesn't like to wait for other people to make decisions. By sheer will, she can change stoplights and get waiters to bring us more bread.

On the frenetic London streets, my daughter dashes this way and that. She is proud of how assertive she has become, a trait she links to growing up in Los Angeles, a trait I link to the boiling bloodlines of her dear mum.

"This way, Dad," she says.

"No, this way," I say.

In a crowd of 10,000 screaming idiots at Buckingham Palace, I find her, then lose her, then find her again.

Fortunately, the sun hits her like an autumn day. I can locate her in a crowd just by the chestnut in her hair, the reds and browns of mid-October.

"If I lose you, we'll meet back at the hotel," I tell her at one point, fearing we'll get swept apart in a crowd, then spend too long looking for each other when we should be enjoying the sights.

"How about we meet at the subway platform?" she says.

"Back at the hotel," I say.

"The platform."

"The hotel."

It is our only real argument, though I do scold her for pulling out her iPhone during a profoundly stirring service at Westminster, then the next evening in a spectacularly ancient English theater.

"You need cellphone rehab," I tell her later.

"I know," she says sheepishly.

At times, I want to throw the damn iPhone into the Thames, so hooked is she on its little screen and messages from her buddies back in the States.

But I don't.

A daughter is a gift, remember? No refunds, no returns.

Next week: The lovely and patient older daughter weighs in.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

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