London Sketches 9

He sits carefully on his seat and sneaks another swig from his energy drink, looking forward to his first full day sight-seeing in London. He sits bolt upright, keen to limit contact with the seats. He has read all about the filth found in the Underground and he doesn’t want to get dirty, especially not this early in the day. Lord knows what he might catch from a seat that has hosted so many travellers’ bottoms. He’d seen a video showing the clouds of dead skin that could be unleashed just by hitting the seat cushion a few weeks back.

He shudders and pushes down on his umbrella to steady himself, trying not to think about what is transferring onto his trousers as he heads towards the heart of the city. The umbrella is another essential for travelling in the UK apparently. He hasn’t seen any rain yet, but from what he has read online, it will only be a matter of time. He pats the handle, and congratulates himself.

He smooths his jeans and checks they are tucked into the top of his boots. He runs his thumb around each, making sure there are no creases. More importantly he checks there are no gaps. Legend has it that you’re never more than 6 feet away from a rat here in England, a thought that fills him with dread. He’d checked the newspapers who were slightly more optimistic, suggesting it was more like 154 feet, but that was still too damn close. Especially down here in the tunnels where they are said to be the size of dogs. Imagine one of those dirty, disease-ridden beasts climbing into his boot, chewing, biting, scratching, wriggling.

He hurries to unscrew the cap on his bottle and spills the sticky drink on his chin. He swallows deeply in an effort to force back the bile that is rising in his throat. What the hell is he doing in this wet, dirty rat-infested city? What kind of a holiday is this going to be? How long until he can go home again?