an idiot in london


Saturday, 6th May.
Is the Royal Family avoiding Ian?

You all know how I attract them. Charmari and I were walking to Fulham Broadway station when I heard shouting from the other side of the street. I looked across, but nothing seemed to be happening.

More shouting, I looked across and a bloke with wild eyes was looking at me. I had no idea what was going on (not unusual). This bloke then bounds across the road and confronts me:

"I heard what you said!" I was dumbstruck. In front of me was a tall black bloke with sheer anger in his eyes. "Don't think I didn't!"

My jaw dropped. "I ain't afraid of the white man!" He was dead serious. He was standing about a metre-and-a-half away from me.

"So don't call me boy! I ain't afraid of the white man. Don't call me boy!" I looked at Charmari. She looked as stunned as I did. "I ain't afraid!"

I stood still, didn't say a word. He threw a few more obscenities at me, then turned and walked away. We stood still, completely unable to comprehend what had just happened.

"Let's just let him get ahead of us," I suggested.

"Don't mind him, he lives around the corner from me," said a short woman passing by, "he's on medication, and sometimes he doesn't take it. He hears voices. Even when he does take the medication it does things to his head."

A surreal start to the day. We took the tube to the city, and commenced some hardcore sight-seeing.

First stop Picadilly Circus. A stroll along Regent Street, and we found a little arcade. All the shops in the arcade sold clothes for the rich and completely loaded. Old money, that is. Tweed, sensible shoes, cardigans, all that. Fancy a weekend at the country house? We could pop the kids into the Range Rover, and have lunch at Ashley and Andrea's place.

After lunch at that English institution, Burger King (hey, it's cheap and both of us are on a budget), we ambled around Leicester Square and then headed for Nelson's Column. The portrait painters were out in force at Trafalgar Square, and Charmari made the mistake of making eye contact with one of them. We were badgered by this woman flat out. She would not leave us alone. We'd try to walk away and she'd catch up with us. And just when we thought we'd shaken her off, ther she was again, insisting on doing Charmari's portrait. A great flock of pigeons were swirling around the square, some perching on tourists outstretched arms. We skirted around the pigeons, watching the pigeons poop on the outstretched arms of the tourists. Through the flock came the portrait painter "I do nice portrait, only ten pounds!" I shook my head in disbelief. She only stopped when we left for the Strand.

Then over Waterloo Bridge, along the embankment past the ruddy great ferris wheel and over Westminster Bridge to the houses of parliament and Big Ben. The lawn in the shade of Westminster Abbey was a welcome sight, after hours of walking in the surprisingly warm London sun. We flopped down on the grass and watched busloads of tourists get whisked past the abbey at an alarming rate, people on the upper deck spinning round as they pass by, desperate for a glimpse of the Abbey about two seconds after they had screamed past the houses of parliament.

Just as we were preparing to leave, we noticed a couple of well-dressed blokes outside St Margaret's (the little church next to the Abbey). A crowd of tourists were gathering, waiting for the bride and groom to exit the church. Strange behaviour. By the time the bride and groom made it out, there would have been about 150 tourists of various nationalities gathered around. Some were taking photos, and when the bride and groom kissed there was a hearty round of applause. A mentally unbalanced man abusing me at random made more sense to me than all this! Eventually I convinced Charmari that we could go, and that the bride and groom wouldn't miss us because they didn't know us anyway. (I'm such a boy.)

Down Whitehall, past Downing Street, and through St James Park towards Buckingham Palace. The royal ensign wasn't flying above the palace, which meant that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip weren't in. I'm sure they're avoiding me now. I leave for England, they go to Australia. I go to Windsor Castle, then Buck House, they're not there. It's a bit rude.