Meeting The Assangettes
On Tuesday I happened to walk past the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge. Well I say "happened to" - actually I took a five-minute detour because I was curious: where was this place which keeps turning up on the news? And would I see Julian Assange peering plaintively out of a third-floor window? (Sadly the answer to question 2 was no, but you can't win them all). Still, by turning up I stumbled upon a couple of things: firstly I hatched my newly-conceived plan for an alternative tourists' guide to London: there must be a gap in the market for an official trip which whisks you past "arbitrarily detained" freedom fighters/fugitives from justice (delete as applicable). More on that later, but in the meantime I spotted three doughty Julian supporters standing opposite the embassy and maintaining a quiet vigil for the wizard of Wikileaks. I wondered who these Assangettes were, why they were there and what makes them tick, so I went over to chat to them. The two on the left either didn't want to talk or had shaky English, but Dirty Tapas is proud to present an exclusive interview with highly garrulous chap on the right. Excuse my croaky voice - manflu alert.
I'm not sure I'll be spending the cold winter days of my retirement like this guy, but here's to all those dedicated minorities of campaigners who vote with their feet and want to make a thoughtful, considered protest against the status quo. Julian might not be tasting all the sweet fruits of liberty right now, but whatever Wikileaks uncovers about western injustice the simple fact that you can stand on the street and make a dignifed statement like this is something to celebrate, at least. Meanwhile, back to my plans for the alternative tour of London. From the embassy I carried on walking through Knightsbridge and into Kensington, where I found a strange little hybrid of a cafe and antiques shop. There were hardly any customers (bar the obligatory hipster with a ludicrous beard that deserved to be set on fire), but I was welcomed in and treated myself to a tea before meeting friends for dinner in the evening. The atmosphere was charming, except for one thing: as I looked up from my squashy sofa, sitting opposite and staring back at me was this.
There can't be many of these to the pound in London, 2016. In a city of 33 boroughs and 8 million people, this might just be the most racist thing you'll find in a cafe anywhere. Which is an achievement of sorts. Back to the embassy, and as well as our protesting friends there was one more point of interest in the shape of this delivery van. I said earlier that Julian wasn't tasting the sweet fruits of liberty, but maybe his taste buds aren't doing that badly after all...
Post Script: On Sunday 13 March David Mitchell, quite possibly Britain's funniest weekly columnist in the national press, wrote a piece which similarly imagined a racism tour in the Observer. Great minds, eh?