The London street is a market. Actually, so are the pubs and restaurants.
28.06.2008 - 29.06.2008 20 °C
Okay, to make up for a depressing entry last time, a few light, humorous observations.
If I was in Toronto and wanted to purchase a DVD, I would go to HMV. Here in London, I just go into any restaurant and sit down. Within 10 minutes I will have someone approach me, most likely an Asian female, and offer me DVDs for sale. At first I thought it was just one woman trolling through my neighbourhood, but now I have had it happen to me in other parts of London with different people. It's common place here, really.
It surprises me for a number of reasons. The first is that people wandering around with plastic shopping bags full of DVDs can make a living approaching people on the street and saying, "Hello, DVD?"
The second reason is that so many restaurants and pubs don't seem to mind these people coming in and selling DVDs. I have only ever seen one place that protests the practice. They have a sign on the door that says "NO DVD SELLERS." After sitting there for 10 minutes watching the Euro 2008 and drinking a pint, who walks in but a DVD seller.
"Hey," the bartender, a young woman, calls to the DVD seller, "come over here."
"Let's see what you got," the bartender said, who then proceeded to spend 10 minutes looking through the massive collection of DVDs on offer. I guess the sign is more for show.
The other folks that approach me on the street aren't selling anything, except perhaps for a little piece of mind about helping others, the charity fundraisers. We have them in Toronto as well, folks on the streets with binders with a charities logo plastered on it asking, "Do you have a few minutes to spare for..."
They are pretty ubiquitous here in London, so much so that you sometimes encounter them in the most unexpected place, like trolling the line up for Wimbledon ground passes. A recent editorial in The London Paper bemoaned the guilt trip that one gets from these fundraisers, with their questions of "...“Why not?” “So you’re saying you can’t give up one hour’s wages?” And my personal favourite: “Oh, so you don’t like helping people then?”"
Luckily for me I have a built in defence against these folks, my accent. When approached by one I have found if I look up and say, "sure, I have a minute to spare, what's up?" they immediately decide that I am a tourist, and therefore not able to provide a UK bank card or Credit Card for monthly withdrawals. With an "Enjoy London," they pretty quickly dispatch me on my way.
Another thing that is ubiquitous here in London is comedian Jimmy Carr. He seems to be on my TV constantly and is even playing a live show tonight at Regent's Park. He is also, I was surprised to learn, not gay, just very British. For those of you without a built in Canadian accent to dissuade charity fundraisers, he offers this potential solution.
A lady with a clipboard stopped me in the street the other day. She said, "Can you spare a few minutes for cancer research?" I said, "All right, but we won't get much done."