With travelling momentarily on hold I’m sort of resigned to spending my weekends at home in London. Whilst it isn’t exactly my favourite activity, I’m not asking you to reach for your magnum box of Kleenex just yet; at the end of the day it’s not so bad to be waking in my own bed for a full week straight, savour a bit of boredom and enjoy the simple fact of living in a flat that, after years of mould-damp-mice-cold, is actually nice and comfortable. And I have to say that even my oh-so-middle-class West London borough can offer something unexpected.
Take, for instance, this morning. I was walking on High Road, whistling Rodriguez’s “Sugar Man” to myself, when a black SUV – one of those Chelsea tractors, you know the kind – stopped at the crossing immediately before me. The front window was rolled down, and the driver – the kind of guy a couple of years older and a lot wealthier than me – looked at yours truly as if he wanted to ask something and, before I could proffer a word, he shouted “That man is a thief!”.
After the briefest moment of puzzlement (I didn’t, and don’t, remember liberating anything bigger than a bag of laminating pouches in the last 10 years, and even that wasn’t really theft, I’d just simplified the supply chain of the company’s supply of stationary materials) when I realised that SUV man was pointing with his thumb towards the back of the SUV, where the Barclays bank and a man with a Sainsbury’s shopping bag stood.
In fairness to Bag man, his only visible sin was the fact of wearing Lycra leggings. SUV man stuck his head out of the window, shouted “Thief, thief, THIEF!” then screeched away, turning left at the junction. Lycra man grinned like Pennywise the clown and then disappeared in a side alley, leaving me standing by the side of the road, puzzled and suddenly aware of a handful of facts.
Firstly, it wasn’t yet nine and I’d seen enough oddity to last West London a weekend. Secondly that, despite the hour and the clouds and the snow the good West London burghers were already out en masse. Thirdly that all the good West London burghers had seen was SUV man shouting thief! at me, not at Lycra man – who was hidden from view, being as he was in the process of disappearing in a side alley – and that I was less than 100 meters away from the local Met police station. But, this being London, no one made eye contact and I could be spared the ignominy of a tour of the nick and a cavity search.
And that’s it. I’ll leave you in company of this troop of birds who were perched on the tree outside my window, undoubtedly bickering about the few timid snow flakes now falling over the city. “I told you, Archibald, that we had to migrate south when the Robinsons did, haven’t I? Now look at us, my arse is frozen!”