What’s Gum Got to Do With It

What’s Gum Got to Do, Got to Do With It?

Here in the US, gum is sold everywhere. It is sold in grocery stores, drug stores, convenient stores, gas stations and vending machines.. do we still have vending machines? Well they do in Japan, everywhere… Oops lost my train of thought. that will be for a later story. Anyway, We chew it for fun, to relax, out of habit and for a breath freshener. We are gum cleans our teeth. We’re told it is good for TMJ or maybe bad for TMJ.
There are more flavors of gum, Thank you Wrigley, than “Carter has liver pills” For those of you too young to know what that means, I don’t either, except to say that I guess Carter made a brand of medicine than sold pills for…. liver spots? Liver spots are … oh never mind, I digress. So, that is a lot of pills.

You know someone is a true friend who gave or shared their last stick of gum… do they still have sticks or is gum now all chicklet style?

Cara, my grandmother, however, was not a fan of gum. It didn’t matter the flavor or the reason I had for chewing it or if it kept me from having bad breath. Didn’t matter whether it tasted good or even if I didn’t make a cracking sound when chewing or kept my mouth closed. She didn’t like, and that is stating it mildly, gum chewing period. “Dearie” she said, “Ladies do not chew gum” Dearie was another nickname she had for me. Well, if I am being completely honest, sometimes the “Dearie” part was left often. I often would chew gum on the plane when on my way to visiting her. I would forget to spit it out before arriving. Well, you know the rest.

Yes, I know this is not so much of a Cara travel story but is a warm remembrance.

An interesting fact about gum. The have banned gum in Singapore. The fines can be up to $10,000.00 and a year in Jail. I thought “Really?” isn’t it like a national past time or a right of passage when a parent give a child gum for the first time without worrying about them choking on it? Its true, no gum in Singapore. When student from there travel to anywhere else, one of the first things they do is buy gum. It is considered a delicacy. As I see it, there are a couple of problems being new gum chewers. First they can’t walk and chew at the same time. This is a fine art learned when parents first give gum to their children. Second, the don’t know what to do with it when the gum has lost it’s flavor. Again not learning early, they do not know how to swallow it, so they just split it out where ever they are and the gum lands… on the sidewalk or street.

That brings me full circle to travel and to tell you about an amazing street artist in London named Ben Wilson. He is know as the “chewing gum man.” He paints miniature pictures on discarded chewing gum that he finds out the street. He has painted requests on gum for tourists and locals alike. His art includes logos, animals, monuments and more. His is an incredible story as is the story and history of street art. Most of London’s street art is in the East End which has seen many changes over the years . In order to fully appreciate the full and interesting history here, you really need more than a few hours. The East End is where the Elephant man lived, Jack the Ripper murdered there and Kiera Knightly has an apartment here. The vibrant and often crowded flea market/market area is called Spitalfields (not pun intended, as it is not the area where the gum man gets his gum, although I guess he could. Discarded gum is not proprietary). Spitalfields, is short for Hospital fields. The British can be a be stingy with their letters so they often shorten words to save those letter for a later time.
The market here sells all types of souveniers, clothes, purses and much more. As you meander though the streets looking at the art on the wall, you will be amazed at the incredible talent of the artists and the diversity of the art. Some of the artists are famous, creating street art all over the world and some are up and coming. If you appreciate art of any kind. I really think a trip to London’s East End is well worth the time. It is a tube ride away from anywhere in London. There are many great and fun restaurants and home of one of the tallest buildings in London as well as becoming the home of London’s tech area.

Most cities have street art. Some of the artists are considered grafittists with no regards for public property. Some have true talent. Some are inspired by their life stories. Anyway, in my opinion if you look behind what looks like spray painted walls with gang signs you can see inspiring creativity and beautiful stories.

I still chew gum on occasion and in fact bought some yesterday to chew on a long over night flight, yes for the flavor, activity, morning breath….. I can hear Cara’s voice… “Dearie….” and “Terrapin, I love you”

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