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London Bridge is falling down ..but not the prices.

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Message Paul Titterton
'Can I help you, mate?'.. Oh no!. a cop the size of a rugby player wanted to shoot me down ..I was sure of it. 'Ah.. .no ..I'm fine...thanks'. 'Where are you from?' Oh God..he was going to follow me home and shoot that up as well.. 'Scotland.' ' Enjoy your holiday, Jock.' Phew... a close shave. He wasn't fooling me though ..he was merely pretending to be helpful. 'Jock' indeed.

What did I do?..My old auntie said, 'You were staring at him.' Was I? Lord, I did not mean to. I said to her that I could not believe that a cop, a bit like him, shot the young Brazilian guy a year ago, thinking he was a terrorist. She said 'He was 27'. 'Sorry'? 'He was 27.. he was not young'. I said he was the same age as my son, of course he was young. The difference being that my son was indeed a terrorist the age of 2 or 3. 'Thoo not mine good daddy... I hate thoo!' He kinda calmed down by 27.

She said the Brazilian had jumped over a barrier on the Underground. He was wearing a thick coat on a hot day, ( possibly concealing explosives.) He had ignored warnings and his work permit had run out!! My partner gently said that only the work permit bit was true. However, what surprised me was that my aunt remembered such detail from a year ago. She is in her mid eighties and not normally at all interested in current affairs. The new Pope ...yes.

The next morning the shooting was in the news again. ( The Brazilian embassy was still angry..even a year on). My aunt.. 'He was running away you know..he wore a thick coat.. etc etc'. My aunt is pretty sharp..however they had done it..convinced her that the Brazilian boy, Charles de Menezes, was shot..because he had done something suspicious. Reason did not come into the argument. My aunt simply would not believe that London 'Bobbies', the finest cops in the world, could do anything wrong.

I heard that a majority of US troops in Iraq still believed that Saddam was behind 9/11. Same as my aunt. 'He is on hunger strike you know'.. 'Yes I knew that Aunt Mary'. I pre-empted her.. ' I don't want him to die ..he will escape justice'.. 'He deserves to.'.. 'He has not been found guilty'..etc etc.

We went to London's famous Tower Bridge.. Americans!! I have not seen an American in Scotland for years...literally. They do exist!! Gosh.. they look nice ..not at all violent..but carefree.. smiling. Where was the chewing gum?..silly trousers? No..that was golfers. The giant drawbridge raised and fell to allow a huge yacht through. The crowd wooed. So did we.

We then went out for a meal. Italian and fabulous. I bravely called for the bill. Two waiters carried it. My cousin dealt with it with a devil-may-care attitude that I intend to develop.

The next day we went to the Battle of Britain Museum.. ''Morning Sir ..How do you intend to pay?'..I could see what he meant. By mortgage maybe! I had thought that I would be able to describe it to my friends in Oped but no. I'm going to have to pretend that I saw what was in there. London is the most expensive city.. outside of Tokyo I think.

I felt like telling the ticket man an old story of another aunt who was Mitchell (the Spitfire designer)'s secretary. They would not have listened..however the young children with us did listen, so I grossly exaggerated her role..hinting that she had actually had a hand in the design. We walked along the Thames, instead of going to the museum. I entertained the kids by pretending to fall in.

We could afford a boat trip on the Thames. The guide spoke of how the water now supported fish after 200 years of stagnation. He said if you fill a glass with Thames water ..let the mud settle...wait 5 can drink it will kill you but you can drink it!

We saw the Tower of London .I fondly imagined me confined there for criticising Blair. We saw the Houses of Parliament..I shouted out some banality about the war but I don't think I was heard over the comical guide, whose voice sounded like Dick van Dyke's ludicrous Cockney accent in 'Mary Poppins'. ' Oim a Lundena Oi is!'

It was beautiful. London is an incredible place. It takes a lot for a Scot to say that. This is the heart of the system that controlled Scotland for centuries ( not to mention a quarter of the globe). When I was a kid we wanted Germany to beat England at soccer when England won the World Cup in 66. The same Germany..that destroyed large sections of Scotland in 41! I had to admit though that the buildings are gorgeous ( I knew it was because they stole the riches of the world for centuries, but it did not matter as I briefly became a Londoner.)

I kept up with the news while I was on holiday, which is not great at present. I heard that more people are being killed every day in Iraq, than have been killed in total in Lebanon in the past week. I decided that I am going to stop hassling my friends who are supporters of Israel and go back to my favourite pastime of attacking my one friend that still supports the Iraq war.

Even the fake 'Cockney' guide on the Thames boat trip commented on the war and Blair's unpopularity. When Dick van Dyke is against you know you are in trouble.
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'Hamish ' is an antiwar writer socialist- scientist and musician living in Scotland.
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