Homemade signs on The Mall before the Royal Wedding:
‘Yes, I am a crazy Canadian – I have no tent!!!’ next to people on picnic chairs playing cards.
‘WILLIAM’s love CONQUERed CATHERINE and it’s GREAT’ by a group of twenty-somethings singing Jerusalem in Australian accents.
‘Hampshire Royalist Here’ in front of a woman in a bobble hat holding a coffee and looking grumpy.
‘CHECKMATE Kate you’ve taken the King!’ beside a family of four in sleeping bags.
‘Please Help Me’ scrawled in a notebook by a bearded miserablist who’s been there all night in a misguided attempt at book research.
The blonde woman in the long black coat clacked along the platform in stilettos. In one hand she pulled a shiny suitcase on wheels, in the other, a lead attached to a tiny Yorkshire Terrier with gleaming fur and a bow on its collar. It was the kind of dog you normally see carried and cooed over – something you’d expect to be called ‘Precious’ or ‘Bitsy’.
As the woman reached the open door of the train, she lifted the case aboard, stepped up a foot or so onto the carriage and yanked the dog behind her by its neck.
After four days of traveling on the tube to work in the morning, I’ve taken to listening to the Cocteau Twins and napping. When the train pulls in, I’m so tired that I can barely open my eyes so I navigate the approach to the ticket barriers using smell. The freshly showered and groomed commuters give off aromas of aftershave and perfume – there’s a waft of a familiar shampoo, the occasional trace of minty toothpaste.
It’s a stark contrast to the journey home on a red-hot spring day during rush hour. Then there’s an entirely different set of smells.
The waiters have treated me like shit. They patronised me when I came in, stuck me at a back table and then ignored me. To order I have to approach one of them with a menu.
The bill comes – £24 for Moussaka, salad and a beer. I don’t want to leave exactly £24, they might think I’ve simply forgotten to tip and I want them to understand how I rate their service.
I put £24.13p on the table and rush out. On the pavement, I panic that I’ve forgotten my camera. I’d rather leave it behind than go back.