Things that happened today - London stories

That there London

This edition of Things that happened today is unconventionally not about things that happened today, but rather things that have happened recently that I've collated together. I present several slightly odd stories from London, the city where slightly odd things happen.

The motorcyclist

There had been something of a small storm the night before I cycled to work one day down damp streets wrapped in the slight chill of winter. Yeah, poetic. Anyway, I was cycling along when I heard a motorbike behind me revving up to overtake. Unexpectedly however, he merely pulled alongside me, and shouted at me, a complete stranger, "Windy last night wasn't it? I thought the roof was going to blow off!"

I managed to convey some kind of friendly but confused acknowledgement, and he responded with a cheerful response along the lines of "bit better this morning" before roaring off into traffic.

London's full of friendly people, which is nice, just a bit surreal sometimes.

The protestors

On at least two occasions during March I've noticed that 123 Pall Mall has been occupied by a group of anti-capitalism protestors of some kind. I'm not sure what 123 Pall Mall is exactly - Street view suggests its part of the IoD but it apparently isn't any more. This article provides a bit more depth about the purpose of the occupation - apparently the building is currently unused and the group are using it for workshops and running a soup kitchen for the homeless.

Anyway, the point of me mentioning this was that one time when I passed by they had a guy up on the balcony with a megaphone. Normally in these situations he'd just be ranting angrily but to his credit he was bashing capitalism with a bit of wit, in the style of a tube announcer. My favourite bit:

"Next stop Westminster. Please mind the gap... between the rich and poor."

The cyclist

I was cycling through Leicester Square one morning and there was a cycle courier ahead of me, riding a purple frame bike with purple wheels. She stopped to wait for a taxi ahead to manoeuvre. Close by, two homeless men were sat in a doorway. One of them had a massive traffic cone, and he put it to his mouth and shouted "Is that a new bike?"

The girl glanced doubtfully at her bike for a moment before responding with "No, it's three years old."

The homeless guy nodded and bellowed back. "Well it's very nice."

The cyclist nodded politely and set off again.

Like I said. Nice, but surreal.


The other day I saw a woman on the street walking a cat. On a leash. She'd stopped to let it sniff the wheel of a parked car. I'm not making this up.


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