For the third heat-wave day in succession, Jackie drove me to and from Southampton for a London trip. First port of call was Carol’s, to whose home I struggled over Westminster Bridge and down Victoria Street. This time it was mid-afternoon in 30+ degrees.
The international teeming throng offered neither let-up nor pavement space. Wherever possible, leaders of groups held up all kinds of devices for their followers to keep in their sights. The journey from Waterloo to the comparative freedom of Victoria Street probably took twice as long as normal. I considered myself fortunate that I wasn’t a tourist or a sightseer intent on visiting places of interest.
On South Bank various entertainers, such as the jester exchanging high fives with little boys, set up pitches. Before reaching the concourse Charlie Chaplin strode by on his way to his performance venue. The artists must have been sweltering under their costumes.
The Thames is, of course, a tidal river. As I fought my way through the pulsating populace I wondered about descending to join the gulls clambering on the rocks and silt below. There was no way down, which was probably a blessing.
After I had finally made it up the steps to Westminster Bridge it was a male hand that thrust the camera into mine. In vain did I attempt to explain to the three young Italians that, because of the height and angle of the sun, they would be backlit in their determination to have the famous clock face featured in their group portrait. I had a go in French which was just as alien to them as was English. They did understand my comment that my Italian was non-existent, but pointing at the sun and swivelling myself around didn’t cut much ice.
At Parliament Square a silent demonstration pleaded for the closure of Guantanamo detention centre.
There were several ice-cream vendors about. Two men in their thirties were debating where they could find shade to sit and eat the treats. I suggested a park a short way down Victoria Street. This didn’t interest them as they had to attend a meeting at Guildhall. Mind you, the cooling delicacy would probably have run all the way down their forearms and dripped off their elbows onto their trousers long before they reached the oasis. They wouldn’t then have cut very impressive figures at the discussion.
Quite a few people, risking poking others in the face, were using umbrellas as parasols. One gentleman used his as a beacon for his followers.
From Carol’s I walked along Broadway to St. James’s Park underground station where I boarded the Circle Line tube to Edgware Road, along which I walked to the Akash (see post of 31st October last year) for a meal with Jessie. There is no air-conditioning on the packed tube trains. On the Circle Line the temperature was 34.2 degrees.
I enjoyed the usual delightful meal with my very good friend Jessie. Majid, Zaman, and Shafiq gave me their customary warm welcome and once again produced my favourite repast without my having to order. It was as if I’d never been away.
We took our coffee outside, where Majid was happy to serve it. As he placed the pot on the table, I asked him to return to the doorway for a photo. He had his back to the Akash. The Christmas tree alongside him is probably one of those he always sets up for the Christian festive season.
Jessie drove me to King’s Cross whence I took the underground to Waterloo and thence to home.