Friday, May 26, 2006

Herding Sheep!

I had a rather irritating experience with a group of Japanese tourists on the way to work this morning. As I approach Lambeth Palace, I switch from the road to riding along The Embankment as it cuts out a busy junction and is a lot flatter. The Embankment isn’t usually too busy until you get close to County Hall and The London Eye, where the tourists tend to congregate, and I’ve become quite expert at riding slowly and dodging around them until I can turn back onto the road by the Eye.

This morning though, almost as soon as I turned off the road, I came upon a coach-load of Japanese tourists milling about, taking photographs of each other and Westminster and generally ambling along the river towards Waterloo, completely blocking the path.

I rang my bell some.

I rang my bell some more.

I called out to them.

It was as if I didn’t exist.

Even with my front wheel six inches behind them, my bell ringing and me calling out ‘excuse me!’ nobody looked my way or even turned around to see what the noise was, let alone made way for me to get through. It was a surreal experience of invisibility that was also extremely annoying. It wasn’t just me either; another cyclist got caught up in the group and received no more response than I had.

I tried to be charitable about the whole thing, assuming that they had just finished a long overnight coach or plane journey and were zonked with jetlag – but even so, jetlag doesn’t make you deaf, so my charity didn’t last until I finally managed to get past them.

So: not impressed with the Japanese today.

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