Larking about Trafalgar Square in hot woolen get up is not all it is cracked up to be. Especially in July when it is so terribly hot. Well, at least hot for London. I wander up and down clanging this bell with a cue card to remind me what I am supposed to be announcing. Trouble the majority of people here have no idea what I am saying. Families from the Punjab stand in happy bliss, delighted they have finally arrived in this mecca their grandparents spoke about. Arab families from any country you care to name pose next to the lions. Egads, sacrilege, they even clamber on them so their little boys can pose draped across the mane. If they cannot read the signs prohibiting such adventure then I cannot expect them to understand my cockney accent, all jangled up in the bell and announcing messages which would need a whole day to explain properly. Not the Eastern Europeans who line up in front of the fountains then head for the museums. or just mill about looking like they are surprised London still exists. They all walked here from out of the train stations which surround this square. But the Asians from Korea, China and Japan flow out of the buses which clog up Saint Martin’s place, point their cameras in the general direction of the column (I bet they have no idea who Mr Nelson was or did, or what impact he has had on their own histories) and then turn and rush into the museums. Harry, up there on the Egyptian floor, says he can’t hear himself think for their high pitched, continuous chatter. Wants to swap his job for my bell. Hardly – at least I can take a lunch break when I decide no one is paying me any attention. Which is most of the time I reckon. Prickly hat off, feathers smoothed, Daily Mail out from under the robe and a quiet spot in the corner of the square (the National Gallery at my back), away from the shouting parents and scrambling kids. A quick read, a collecting of my wits, and then back into the fray and into ten thousand little Japanese cameras made in China, captured in pixels to be transported back to the far reaches of the globe where none of those Koreans or newly rich farmers from the back blocks of China will be able to tell their relatives anything sensible about what my feathers, robe and bell meant at all. Surreal eh what? It’s a wonder Mr Nelson hasn’t spun off his pedestal in surprise at everything happening at his feet these days.
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