The other day, not long before 11 in the morning, I happened to find myself in the Real Life version of London Town... in Oxford Street in fact. Some might call it a shopper’s paradise.
For those of you who have never been there it is lined with mostly up market and nice stores. Some are uber multi floor department stores (think Macey’s). Think fancy strip mall, complete with red buses going slower than you can walk, because of the traffic.
It would be possible to spend all day there... *sigh*
But just then I couldn’t tarry... I walked half the length of Oxford St, watching those poor stores disappear forlornly behind me, one by one, giving me the store equivalent of puppy dog eyes in my imagination (poor neglected things)... in shoes that I had thought were perfectly ok, when I set out that morning.. but came to realise were just a bit pinchy.
You might figure if I had any sense I should have worn trainers... Nahhh. Maybe ok for the journey to work but not for Oxford St, or where I had been, in otherwise nice clothes.
So anyway... There I was walking down Oxford Street. I was quiet the whole way, taking it in, listening to snatches of conversation and people watching, along with some practically automatic wistful window shopping... and do you know?
It slowly dawned on me that I was not hearing a single word of English. Now I can manage to shop and order food in several languages. I recognise more, but there were languages I was hearing I didn’t even recognise.
Maybe the English speakers just weren’t talking?. I wasn’t, but then I was not with anyone and I don’t do an upmarket 'bag lady having animated conversation with herself' routine. Apart obviously from the perfectly normal thinking out loud "Hmmnn... The red or the black?" sort of thing, that I wasn't doing just then.
I kept thinking “this can’t keep up”... but it did. In the heart of a capital city of a nation who’s first official language is English.
It made me think of the tower of Babel... only stretched out along the ground instead.
What did I do in the end? A very quick shot of “retail therapy” before I had to be somewhere else ^_^ They spoke English in the store.
* Image of Oxford Street courtesy of Wikimedia here