Being a Tourist

Busy Picadilly Square.

We walked from Piccadilly Square to Wesminster Abbey, passing theatres lit with their show advertisements. I longed to take in Phantom of the Opera. However, the reason we were walking to Westminster was because we had seven hours to kill until curtains opened on Wicked at the Apollo Theatre in Victoria, with us in row 6.

Wicked and the Abbey on one day — what a day! I was looking forward to being a tourist. Museums are my favourite places to visit, but every now and then I have to get out the camera and just be in the way of the locals.

With that in mind, our walk became one large photo opportunity.

At one point along our walk, a crowd of people was gathered at an iron gate. Snapping pictures, I turned to see what it was, but it was a guy on a horse out in front of a museum. Young guy, obviously looking out at the tourists and posing for the camera. Not a palace guard. Though I am not sure why a palace guard would be sitting in front of a museum.

An interesting lamp with a crown. I never saw these outside of the Westminster grounds.

A few blocks later, another crowd gathered. Not as big a crowd. Only vaguely curious, I glances at the fence. Standing just inside the gate were three men in army uniforms, one touting a large gun. Huge — I don’t know anything about guns, but this one was meant to say, “Step back and no one gets shot.”

What on earth?

I knew we were not at Buckingham Palace, which was my first thought. That’s the American tourist coming out: ”I’m in London; must be royalty!” But again, no red coats and fuzzy hats. And these weren’t tourists with their Canons and Nikon, 300mm zoom lenses. These were Londoners, with their cell phones poised and ready, I figured they must have spotted Princess Kate or someone.

The gate covered a long driveway or alley. Then the street sign caught my eye. Not an alley. Downing Street. Looking down the gated street we could see a crowd of men in dark suits. The crowd snapped away, not caring that their cell phones were not going to zoom in enough on this crowd to pick out individual members.

Everyone else watched Downing Street. I saw a lovely glimpse of the London Eye peeking through the autumn leaves.

Tourist I was playing, not politics. Not really wanting to bring home photos of politicians, I turned around and saw the most picturesque scene of the London Eye against a backdrop of orange leaves. Here was my moment. Downing Street at my back, autumn in front of me.

Politicians, go about your business, do your work, and by all means, enact fair legislation. Just don’t expect me to photograph it.


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