One evening a while back, I was walking across London’s Waterloo Bridge when I heard the all-too familiar sound of footsteps running up behind me.
“Oh bollocks!” thought I “here we go.”
Fist clenched, I swiveled around to confront my would-be assailants. To my relief, and not a little surprise, I came face-to-face with two elderly couples. The biggest came closest to me. I estimated him to be about 65, and he was dressed in generic old bloke going-out garb: Flat cap, checked shirt, v-neck jumper, windcheater, corduroys strides, shoes with nice soft comfy soles. He and his wife and a couple of friends were painting the town grey, or at least urine yellow. “I could take him” I reckoned.
He spoke to me in a Sandhurst accent.
“Where’s the London Eye?” he asked, sharply.
“Pardon?” I replied.
He tried to explain:
“The Eyyyeeee” He was making a big circle shape with his hands, smiling and nodding as the British do when speaking to a stupid foreigner who not sprechen ze Englisch. He continued, and still with the sign language.
“The Eyyyeeee??? The big wheeeeel ??? People go up in it??? Where? where, hmmm ?”
I’d had enough:
“I know you’re talking about, mate, I was just waiting for you to say ‘please’, you rude bastard!”
He leapt out of his Hushpuppies. It had clearly dawned on him that I was a fellow Brit. He’d taken my earlier ‘pardon?’ to be an attempt at Pidgin English, and not a guttural splutter from a member of the underclasses
“Haha!” he laughed, patting me firmly on my shoulder. “Where are you from?”
“London” , I lied, not seeing the funny side, “where are are you from?” I barked.
“Ha! Ascot” he said, still holding on to my shoulder as if we were suddenly friends.
“Well don’t they teach you manners down there?”
Then I pointed to the big 400ft tall wheeeeeel standing about a hundred yards to my right. “It’s over there. It’s the big wheely-looking thing, sorry if it’s confusing.”
The four wrinklies scuttled off, without so much as a “thank you guvnor”. I turned on a tenpence and continued my journey home.
And I had the raving hump.