an idiot in london


Tuesday, 29th August.
At last, Chinotto!

Today, finally, I found somewhere that sells Chinotto. I was close to tears when I found cans of Chinotto at a little sandwich bar in Mortimer Street. I wanted to jump the counter and give the old Italian bloke a big hug, but the counter was high and this is England, after all.

Happy with my purchase, I walked the short distance to Cavendish Square, where I usually eat my lunch. As I sat down I noticed a bloke lying on the grass in front of a girl sitting in front of me. Obviously chatting her up, and on the face of it not doing too badly, either. He was wearing trackpants and a t-shirt, she was wearing standard office chick attire. Soon she left, with him escorting her. A few minutes later he returned, and sat with his mates behind me.

Next thing I knew he was chatting up the good-looking blonde girl that was sitting near me! He had less success with the blonde girl, who cleared off after a minute or two of him badgering her for her phone number. I'd finished my lunch by this time, and was splitting my time between reading my book and watching his activities.

Not discouraged, shortly after the blonde chick exited stage left he wandered over to a young girl sitting ten metres or so away. She looked stunned at his approach, and didn't seem too thrilled when he gave her his phone number, which she seemed to cast away immediately. But he came back grinning from ear to ear, and I smiled back at him. He flopped on the grass near me. Given his rampant display of heterosexuality, I doubted that he'd try a line on me.

"She just kept smiling at me!" he said.
"No luck with this one?"
"No," he replied, "she said she had a boyfriend. But she kept smiling at me, and I said 'Why are you smiling at me?' and she just kept on smiling."
"I gave her my number, said 'Anytime you want to go for a drink, just call me', and had a bit of a chat with her."
"She looks a bit young." observed one of his mates.
"Couple of footy seasons, mate." I said, getting a couple of puzzled looks.
"Yeah", he continued, "she did look a bit young, but they're all up for it, know what I mean?"
I'm the wrong person to ask, I thought.
"I don't mind a knockback," he said, turning back to me, "I just take it in my stride go onto the next one.
"There are girls here all the time," he gestured around the park, "and I see people just say 'Look at that', y'know, just dreaming, but I'll go up and talk to them, y'see?" Oh yeah, I saw. Needing no encouragement from me, he continued. "You can't win the raffle if you don't buy a ticket."
"That's right." I said. Didn't know it was a raffle, why did it take me so long to find out?
"Wa-hey!" he yelled at a bit of alright that walked past. I was incredulous.
"Do you work around here?" he asked me.
"Yeah, just over there." I pointed.
"We work on a building site down on Oxford Street, and we get girl's phone numbers all the time. Look, here's Jo, Kelly, what's that say? Cara. And that's just this morning. They're all up for it around here. Office girls, they're all up for it." Are they? "Any good looking women where you work?" he asked me.
"No, I work for a computer company."
"So no good looking women?"
"No women!"
"Right. You're probably better off, without the distraction, y'know?"
"Hmm" I decided to be non-committal on that one. "Sometimes we go out down at Liverpool Street. Masses of office girls, and they're all gagging for it." Good grief. "I mean, it all boils down to sex, doesn't it? That's all they're after." Oh yeah, I know what you mean, I'm so sick of Claudia Schiffer ringing me up, demanding my body 24-7.
"Do you have a girlfriend?" he asked. Struth, maybe he is trying to pick me up after all! Here's hoping I don't have to put him straight, so to speak.
"I do, well sort of." There was no stopping this bloke.
"But you still ring all these other sheilas?" I asked.
"Yeah, have a bit of fun, y'know."
"How do you remember all their names?"
"It doesn't matter, I only go for high class!" Having observed his targets for that lunch hour, I wasn't so sure of that. He continued, despite my raised eyebrows. "The girls round here, they're all up for it. If I was working back in East London, where I'm from, I wouldn't be getting any of this. The girls around there just aren't interested. Here, they want you to look at them, they want you to whistle." Pandering to their vanity perhaps, I thought to myself.

The conversation trailed off, and as I left I said: "I'd wish you luck, but I don't think you need it!"