I am sitting in Victoria Embankment Gardens. I wandered here accidentally but have decided to stay. There is a free concert on. Multicoloured deckchairs of blue, red and green are lined up roughly in front of a tiny green stage. Populating the deckchairs are many white-haired men and women, reclining at angles that could make even the most alert of people look three seconds away from a sunny snooze. A bald man in a blue shirt squints as he bites his nails. Behind me a girl is discussing her English lessons in a Spanish accent: her teacher says her grammar needs work. The sun is out, and along the brim of the receding hairline in front of me I see sweat beads glittering. A girl gets up, leaving behind an empty bottle of Iced-tea. Pigeons bob and weave between the legs of the deckchairs, pecking at muffin wrappers. Over the fence is the rumbling of traffic – the sharp squeak of brakes, the honking of boats, the gravelly groan of buses accelerating. People suck on frappuccinos through green straws, tap messages into black phones, click on red lighters to start their cigarettes. I hear a woman’s high-pitched laugh, chairs scraping on the pavement, a group of school kids speaking in German. On Villiers street a group of men are singing ‘I Love You Baby’ as they walk to the tube station. When they finish, people cheer.
The concert never starts, but I am glad I came here.