LONDON -- I am not fooling myself about my age, but I think I can still recognize young people having fun.
In my day, the song "London Swings Like a Pendulum Do" was popular, and we were always enthralled by the land that gave us the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
I know life is harder for young people in London now. While we were visiting in June, our favorite paper, The Guardian, pointed out that the prime minister's plans for belt tightening will hurt young people under 25 terribly.
But I can report that the young can still find fun in London.
The last Friday night of every month is Bike Night in London. We happened upon a happy group of young people, all astride their bicycles around the fountain in front of Buckingham Palace. We heard them before we saw them. The music was blasting so loud we thought it might have been a live band.
I joked to my husband that I hoped the youngsters were not keeping Her Majesty awake.
As we got closer, we realized they were listening to a boom box of sorts that they had set up on the fountain. It just so happened that the moon was golden and full, and as we stood near the fountain we could see Big Ben in a burnished glow and on the other side of the fountain we could see the London Eye light up for the night.
What a beautiful night to be young and on a bike! All of the young people were happy to talk to two old, seemingly harmless Americans. They explained that those who love to bike get together and bike around town every final Friday of the month.
After one young woman realized we were on two feet, she said she hoped that the next time we came we would bring our own bikes "or get a Boris bike!"
London's bigger-than-life mayor, Boris Johnson, initiated a wonder plan to plant banks of bikes all over the town. The bikes are actually provided by the folks at Barclay's Bank, but everyone refers to them by another name that starts with a "B." Johnson is himself a fun guy. If you watched any of the Olympic coverage from London, you saw Boris. You also might have seen footage of him dangling from a zip line. Boris is as much fun as his city.
His idea for the bikes is great, and I hope more cities copy the idea. You can put a card into a bike station, and this act gives you permission to unlock one of the bikes and ride them for free for the first half-hour. When finished, you can leave your bike at any location.
We stayed with the young folks around the fountain, talking and listening for a while. Then one of the company gave the order: Move out! The bikes dispersed into the night. We were still in the process of walking home, so we encountered them at other points. At one point near St. James's Park, a young man came biking by, pulling a large sound system behind him. He was blasting Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." About a dozen young women were biking in his wake.