Monday, March 16, 2009

Wag #3: Friends? I Think Not

This week's WAG was to write about a stranger you encounter with whom you might like to be friends. I'm going to digress a bit, only because I'm can't resist writing about a man I ran across yesterday on Portobello Road.


I sip my strong coffee as the unfamiliar sun caresses my head. No gloves, no coat - it feels like freedom after the gloominess of a London winter. Lionel Richie floats through the mild air from a nearby old-school ghetto blaster. The street is slowly stretching its Sunday morning arms. Ahhhhhhh...

'Am I annoying you?'

Hunh? My eyes fly open. At the next table, a middle-aged posh-looking man has settled into the chair next to a complete stranger.

'No, you're alright, mate,' the stranger says, engrossed in his newspaper.

'I smoked seven grams of cocaine and had six hookers last night,' says Posh Man, swaying slightly in his chair.

Stranger barely looks up. 'Sounds like a messy night,' he says in a typically understated British way.

Posh Man looks offended. 'No, not messy. Not messy at all. I'm just coming down. I smoked seven grams of cocaine and had six hookers last night,' he repeats, louder, in case any of us have missed it.

Stranger continues with his newpaper. Silence falls.

'I'm the best film maker on this street. Too bad my wife has left me. Man, she was hot.' He points to Stranger. 'Now, if she was with you, I'd be impressed. You're rich. Not as rich as me. I have a Rolex that used to be owned by Frank Sinatra. I'm the best film maker on this street.'

Stranger folds his paper now, giving up. 'No, no, I'm not rich.'

'You are!' Posh Man protests. 'You have a Patek Philippe watch.'

At this, I have to steal a glance at Stranger's watch. I have only heard about Patek Philippe in Vogue, and even I know they're worth thousands of pounds.

Stranger doesn't deny it. He puts his paper under his arm and gets up. Silence descends again, until another couple nab the table where Posh Man is sitting. Posh Man looks their way.

'I smoked seven grams of cocaine and had six hookers last night,' he says, delighted to have a new audience.

And it goes on. The Man and I get up to leave, stifling our laughter.

'He's a nutter!' The Man says.

'But he looked so posh...'

'He's wearing a bow-tie,' The Man responds assuredly. 'The mad ones always wear bow-ties.'


Nancy J. Parra said...

LOL!! Awesome post. Loved it!

Leon Basin said...

Hello, how are you doing? I just want to say, this was a great post. Do you have time to chat with a fellow writer? :)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Brilliant. Funnily enough my next post in part concerns a strange encounter on a bus.

Nixy Valentine said...

This is a GREAT story! It's true about bow-ties, now that you mention it.

It's amazing the things you can see when you go outside, isn't it? LOL

English Teach said...

Great post!

I was in Portobello Road with some friends, less than a month ago, on a Sunday, but we went to a Spanish café and had some hot chocolate so nothing very interesting there.


Iain Martin said...

LOL, I'm with Nancy on this one, Marsha. You got the rhythm down very well.

The Ink Gypsy said...

Portobello Road - what a great name for a book! AND a great story/vignette. Loved it, loved it. I can't wait till I can sit in cafes and observe people again. (I currently have a 2yr old velcro-ed to me 24/7. It puts a dent in both my anonymity and my attention span. eg. Jack please leave that man's shoelace alone. Shoelaces are NOT for eating... etc)
Looking forward to reading more of your writing in the future, now that I've found you on Twitter!

J. M. Strother said...

Oh my God, is this for real? You live in an interesting neighborhood. I loved Stranger. Completely unflappable.

I particularly liked this line,
"The street is slowly stretching its Sunday morning arms." Makes me feel like a cat lying in a warm patch of sunshine.

And this,
'He's wearing a bow-tie,' The Man responds assuredly. 'The mad ones always wear bow-ties.'
That's great!

&mpersand said...

I agree with what’s already been said. What a little gem you’ve written here – well observed and written up!

I like the idea of the madness being somehow connected to the bow tie, like Samson getting his strength from his hair. I mean, maybe if he were to remove the bow tie he would be entirely sane! Then again… heehee…
&… xxx

Marsha said...

Thanks, everyone, for all the lovely comments! This post was SO much fun to write, and yes, the Posh Man is indeed for real. Actually, he went on for a good 20 mintues and I wished I had a tape recorder! He would have made a great comedy sketch.

Portobello Road is indeed an intersting mix of people - you have the tourists who come for the market, the media and film people, and then the corporate bankers who pay £4 million for their houses!

Great people watching!

Cora Zane said...

LOL! "The mad ones always wear bowties." Brilliant! ^_^

Melissa said...

Random stuff like that only happens here, love it!

Lulu said...

Loved it. You couldn't have asked for a better main character for this weeks assignment. Great details - the watches, the bow tie, etc. They really add to the visual version running through my brain.

AuntSally said...

I love the way you write. You say so much in so little space. Can't wait to read your next entry.

Jackie said...

OHMYGOSH this was AWESOME! Makes me very remorseful that I didn't get "out" and do this exercise. What a boring life I have! Great characters are around every corner, and here I sit, too lazy to leave my house. sigh. LOVED IT!

Jackie said...

I also think "The mad ones always wear bow ties" is going to be my phrase of the week. ;)

Criss said...

I have to move to London now! Where do you find these people?!?

"I smoked seven grams of cocaine and had six hookers last night" is how I will greet people from now on. Seriously.