It had been a good day. The river bus to Blackfriars, a swim and sauna, followed by a smart early lunch, lunchtime theatre, a couple of galleries, a few drinks with some visiting Dutch friends and I was back in Putney. I was waiting for a bus to take me down the High Street . Also waiting at the stop were four dusky school boys 12-16.
The smallest was smoking. I started to think about the old wife’s tale about smoking stunting growth, was it as true as swallowing chewing gum taking years off your life or eating apple cores causing trees to grow in your guts. Maybe as I pondered these facts I was staring at the youth.
Any way after a minute or so the largest of the lads stepped towards me. “Why are you standing so close to us.” He asked, not exactly politely. I realised that saying I was waiting for a bus was not the right answer or stating that I was observing the English tradition of orderly queuing may have missed the point of the question. So I hesitated.
My new best friend moved a bit closer. And repeated. “Why are you standing so close to us?” It was not my post graduate education nor my living among professional people all my life that kicked in,it must have been those “few drinks”. Either way, I said in my best Anglo Saxon “Fuck Off”.
Now I don’t know if it was the way I said it, but the four students had never heard anything so funny. They became hysterical, giggling and repeating my immortal words while at the same time jabbing their fingers in the air and towards my person.
At that moment my bus appeared so I decided that developing my new found friendship would have to wait for another day. As the bus drew away two of the fellows banged on the side of the vehicle and made their two forefingers into a pistol shape. What larks.