As a Metropolitan Policeman, I used to work in a tourist rich environment in central London. Here are a two conversations that still make me smile and/or cringe. How could I have been so cruel?:
o/s Buckingham Palace:
Tourist: “Hey, Bobby, what time is the Queen coming out?”
Me: `She’s not in today`.
Tourist: “How d’ya know that?”
Me: `The Royal Standard isn’t flying at the masthead which means she’s not in residence`.
Tourist: “So when’s she coming out”?
Me: `If she’s not at home, then she isn’t coming out`.
Tourist: “Right. So what time will that be”?
Me: `OK, you got me…. 11am`.
Another day, same place, changing of the guard:
Tourist: `Hey, officer, who are those little brown guys in the green uniforms?”
Me: “Those `little brown guys` are a contingent of the Brigade of Gurkhas”.
Tourist: “The what of what?”
Me: “They are Gurkhas. Its like a regiment, part of the British Army”.
Tourist: “What, all brown guys? What d’you say they are again?”
Me,getting a bit tetchy: ” (Sighs) They’re called Gherkins” (thats a pickled zucchinni, in American – I had made the big mistake of getting sarcastic).
Tourist then turns to his family and in a very loud voice says, “The bobby says they’re called gherkins”. Several hundred British spectators burst into spontaneous laughter. Tourist turns to try and find me as I blend in to the crowd as best I can.
I hear him saying, “What? What did I say?” as I kept low and manoeuvered.