Some Sundays are designed for doing very little in. Today was one of those. After I surfaced from bed in just enough time to make the surreal walk from the land of millionaire villas* to council estates to get the last copy of The Observer from the newsagent, the biggest adventure was constructing a new false identity.
The reason I needed to fabricate a fictitious person I could pretend to be was because I wanted an Oyster card. For those of you who do not live in London I feel I should explain. Oyster is a form of electronic ticketing for tube and bus travel in London. If you do not have an Oyster card, a single Underground journey will cost you a minimum of £3; with an Oyster card it costs you £1.50. Given that Commissar Ken is shortly putting a single journey non-Oyster fare up to £4, economic pressure made using Oyster something I could not keep putting off despite my huge misgivings.
Aside from my issue with it being a disadvantageous form of shadow currency, my main problem with the Oyster system is every travel movement across London you make using it can be tracked. By Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, security services and by cunning private individuals. Aside from the libertarian in me bridling at this form of surreptitious mass surveillance, when you have had serious death threats made against you from elements of the Russian Mafiya, you really do not want someone to be able to find out which tube station you start and finish every day at.
One I had become fictional ‘Bob’, it was planned the first Oyster card trip would be to the Museum of London. However, unforeseen factors meant I actually ended up at Spitalfields Market for the first time in about 18 years. There is only one word for the experience of this gentrified temple to consumer leisure – poncey. If I were being verdant, I would probably extend the description of the market to 'crowded and poncey'.
That is not to say I did not enjoy being there. The best in smiling company, a great pie, mash, peas and gravy eaten to wafting soundtrack of the Doctor Who theme, stalls selling blocks of type representing crop circles, some very me t-shirts and fantastic pecorino sardo all helped make it worthwhile way of spending an autumnal afternoon.
Before the last of the sun disappeared below the abrupt, baroque of Hawksmoor’s Christ Church, Surreal Girl insisted on buying me a gelato. Not just a basic gelato, a scoop of tiramisu and a scoop crème brûlée gelato. My tongue experienced an orgasm. I was in taste heaven. All consciousness focussed for an instant to the glorious things happening in my mouth. Without a doubt, it was one of the nicest things anyone has bought for me in a decade. I am not entirely sure why, but a hint of a tear almost escaped whilst sitting eating my deliriously good treat and watching a demon-possessed child cavort across every piece of nearby street furniture. It was good few minutes to experience being ‘Bob’.
*I want to make it clear I do not live in a millionaire villa. I currently could not afford even a few square feet of millionaire villa or Victorian mansion block.