From Waterloo I picked my way past garish loud bars with incongruous names, The Iguana and The Jazz and made my way towards Charing Cross. The bridge over the river bounced with footfall and was thronging-full with visitors taking selfies, carefully avoiding the beggars at their feet who thrust their empty Costa coffee cups up towards them. The lights of the city drew our gaze, and twinkled like laser points.

The rain was of warm London, spitting and playing a dismal tune on my tight umbrella skin, picking up a quiet tap beat in the darkening evening. I jostled my way in a crocodile towards a demonstration where other drummers were bashing their tirade against the world they knew, flinging their vective and sharing it to the damp air. 

Intuitively I stopped at the traffic lights, looked nervously left and right but no cars ever came. The roads now shiny black and slippery were empty perhaps an exaltation to how London should be. Angry police vans, yellow glossed bulged with officers in high-viz like bees humming in their hive.

As I pushed north to Regent Street the whistles and noise faded to produce a more normal London I knew, grid-locked and ready to fleece the unwitting tourists. At the Cafe Royal, where Churchill in 1951 pondered, scowling waiting to get the result he needed, I entered a world away from problems that others had of commuting, money and stress. 

Champagne in cool flutes was bussed around the white and mainly male audience of international lawyers. The few tight-skirted thin-lipped women flirted between iPhones and dull conversation, glancing at bright screens from time to time. Small canapés of indeterminate gunge were picked at. The imported waiters, neat and dark black against their crisp shirts told you what you wanted the ingredients to be, we would have believed anything. 

The speeches were given to frighten me of tax rates, Corbyn, XR and the groups outside. I was safe, cocooned with a thickening head as the alcohol flowed, as I listened to boasts about dual passports, Monaco and how I could defeat the system.

We were two tribes fighting in different uniforms with different values but similar passions.

2 thoughts on “Two tribes

  1. As always great story.

    But read this sentence out loud – The rain was of warm London was spitting and played on my tight umbrella skin, picking up a quiet tap beat.

    A wrong ‘was’…!



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