IT’S been a funny old week, down here in the town we Tykes like to call “t’smoke” – that there London, where old Dick Whittington’s streets are paved less with gold than with beggars.
If I had a pound for every vagrant with his begging bowl out … on second thoughts perhaps not the best way to express that sentiment.
I got down on Saturday evening and ahead of meeting up with my old libel trial co-accused Jonathan Scott for a drink, went to the mega Apple Store in Regent Street for the new iPhone.
“We don’t have any,” said the pleasant young man, as I actually handled one. “That’s for display, not sale.”
“And you’ll get some when, exactly?”
“No idea. Your best bet is to order one online. Should get one in two to four weeks.”
And these people make money how, exactly?
Speaking of phones, Scotty left his in a restaurant, had a mad rush to make his train, so we missed each other.
I ended up have a chat with an American lawyer and his wife, who insisted on beckoning the pub barman to provide waiter service – she didn’t get it, literally – and who told me I was wrong, Armistice Day wasn’t November 11th (whatever day it falls on) but tomorrow, Sunday the 13th.
Being a polite Yorkshireman, I gave up. I’d already sensed I’d probably have to slap her to shut her up, and you just can’t do that. Not even with Americans.
When she went to the loo, hubby said: “I can’t goddam stand her. I retired last year but have taken another job – in Miami.”
“I thought you lived near Orlando?” I said (it’s about 240 miles).
“We do. That’s why I took the job in Miami – 35 years and she’s still a pain in the ass.”
Tickled me, that did.
SUNDAY morning dawned beautiful and blue and I took a Boris Bike ride down to Trafalgar Square, where I passed Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield who was out for a run.
It looked like a jog, but he might have recognised me and been sprinting away (he’s not a fan of my League writing). With Sir Kev, there never was much between his trot and his gallop, bless.
London at any time is magnificent, but this was my first time on Remembrance Sunday. I went round to Horse Guards parade to watch the old boys mustering – it fair stirs the soul – before joining the massed throngs on Whitehall for the service at the Cenotaph.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Bring back national service, be it in military or civil duty form, for all youths not in further education.
Apart from anything else that might focus a few recalcitrants on their studies. And I can’t think of a better way to ‘make’ young people from different communities (you know what I’m talking about) learn to get along. It’ll never happen of course. Our snowflake lefties would have a fit of the vapours at the very thought.
Afterwards I jumped another Boris Bike and perambulated alongside the Thames and into the city – the Square Mile – where I literally stumbled upon a ceremony at the Mansion House, the Lord Mayor of London’s gaff.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent, plus various costumed officials and dignitaries were taking the salute from representatives of the military, police, city liverymen (who doff their bowler hats!) and even a troop of scouts.
Those lily-livered Eurocrats and our own Remoaners can mutter treason to their hearts’ content, but we Brits know how to put on a show, and not half.
FROM the Mansion House ceremony it was a tube hop and a skip to the newly titled London Stadium to catch England’s rugby league team self-destruct against Australia – again.
West Ham United are the new tenants of the 2012 Olympic centrepiece.
I don’t know how it looks on telly, but it is positively the worst ground I’ve ever watched a game from and it’s just a good job the press seats have individual tellies. Behind the scenes, the place is still half building site.
I understand West Ham would love to knock it down and build a new ground.
On Friday night, Dewsbury lad Danny Brough had led Scotland to a historic 18-18 draw with world no.1 side New Zealand, so in the press conference I asked England coach Wayne Bennett if he’d ever considered Broughy, given that he’s actually as English as the Queen.
“It wasn’t the halves that were the problem,” he replied (although it was). I persisted.
“I was told he was eligible for Scotland,” old misery-guts conceded, which was as close as I’d ever get to a straight answer.
I counted it a moral victory, which was more than England could manage.
I DON’T like court rooms of any description. I’ve been the bloke answering the questions on too many occasions – and I’m only talking about being a journalist and editor here.
There isn’t much I can write at this point about the trial of Thomas Mair, beyond what is strictly given in evidence in front of the jury.
Judges – and again I know this from rich personal experience – do not warm to gobby journos who challenge their authority or write things that may inconvenience the smooth running of their trial. My views of Thomas Mair will have to wait until next week at least.
I’ve sat in the press benches more times than I care to remember and I never cease to be amazed by the fortitude of people who have seen a loved one taken away from them by design or fate.
I suspect most, like Jo Cox’s parents and sister, come to court looking for some kind of answer or closure from the proceedings.
I pray for the same for the Leadbeater family, but having sat and watched Thomas Mair this week, I fear most questions they might have will remain unanswered.
FLAMING thieving Londoners, taking advantage of we poor, unsuspecting, northern innocents abroad.
I treated myself to a posh-ish lunch this week (it was quite affordable for these parts) but being in a rush I paid the bill and left a generous tip (well you don’t want them thinking worse of us than they already do!)
It was only when I glanced at the bill that I saw they’d hit me with a 12.5 per cent service charge already! Stop! Thieves!
You can’t go back though, can you? Much as your Tyke instincts might want to.
Still, it’s not all been culinary bad news. I had as good a curry as I’ve enjoyed in years at what felt like someone’s front room just off the Euston Road. As cheap as you’d pay in Batley too.
And in one of the more surreal parts of the week, having started off being interviewed for a book on Thomas Mair by a writer from Todmorden who now lives in Moscow, I ended up at a Cuban Salsa dance class deep in the heart of the city.
And no, my Peter Kay dad-dancing really wasn’t going to cut it in that company.
Like all good journalists, I made my excuses and left.