.I like to think of myself as a ‘helper to the populace’. When wandering the streets of London on my way to somewhere, I always seem to notice someone looking a bit gormless. They could be standing looking at a crumpled map or acting confused, staring up at the lamp posts for divine guidance. Often I see lost tourists turning their telephone upside down and shaking it about, no doubt hoping to get a better signal in an internet-free zone. I seem to be drawn to these lost souls. We are magnets, attracting each other!
The hubby groans and tries to usher me away. Most of the time I ignore him. My best results have (naturally) been when I am, temporarily, husband-less. “Can I help you?” is my battle cry. The answer is more often a relieved, “Oh, thank you… yes.” Now, this is where I get into potential difficulties because I have absolutely no idea where anything is either. But I do think it is good to have someone else in the mix being as clueless as them. It shows solidarity with ‘the lost one’.
I barely know where I live, so my personal A-Z road knowledge is appalling. We look over the crumpled map together. Sometimes I know where an important building is, which may be useful. I certainly know where the tube station is, another plus. I even know where the Cromwell Road is, which is a major point in my favour. Together we try to work out where they want to go. Usually we fail, big time, or I get bored and delegate this logistical problem. Perhaps to another person across the road, who I feel might help these unfortunate dispossessed travellers better than I. This is called ‘passing the tourist’, although this innocent stranger isn’t fully au fait with what is expected of him or her. I have made a hasty retreat by then, so cannot fill them in.
I am like a roaming ambassador. I have an instinct for it. I see confusion in their eyes and pounce. The hubby thinks I am just incapable of letting people get on with their own lives without interfering. I see it totally differently. I think the English in England should help others find their way about the place. It’s only polite and it is good manners, which should be promoted! I’d want to be helped if I was in another country! If somebody was to come up to me and volunteer to be my personal guide through the maze of uncertainty with which I was faced, I’d be totally thrilled. They might not be able to actually steer one in the right direction (especially with my input) but it’s jolly nice to be asked.
As you wave them off, heading entirely in the wrong direction, you think to yourself, “Marvellous! Good job! Carry on guiding!”