It was late on Tuesday night, two days before the jubilee celebrations began, but in some people’s minds you can’t be too fearful these days.
He was sitting on a fold-up camping chair in the middle of The Mall in splendid isolation apart from his carrier bags, aged in his mid-40s. He had chosen a spot maybe 50 yards short of the Victoria Memorial and its gushing fountain, eyes fixed on the distant Admiralty Arch.
He was approached by an inquisitive onlooker: hello and how are you and is everything OK..?
“I’m watching,” he replied.
All around, people with hampers, flags and pop-up tents were filling up the space closest to Buckingham Palace, picking prime sites for watching Thursday’s Jubilee parade. But this was a monarchist apart.
“What are you watching for?”
“Could be a tank, could be a car. Could be anything.”
Eye contact was difficult. The man’s vision was fix-focussed straight ahead, from where the enemy would most likely come.
“I’m ex-army,” he explained. “I’m always watching.” Neither, in his mind, was he alone. “There are a lot of people watching, good people and bad. They’ve got telescopes, they’ve got guns, they’ve got spears. They are watching and they are watching for each other.”
The onlooker wished him goodnight. He might have said “God save the Queen”.
John Vane writes words sketches of London. Sometimes he makes things up. Follow John on Twitter.
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