True gripes: Honoured guests?: Tourists and a touch of 'Xen'

Share
Related Topics
Truly gripped by that hoary old gripe that tourists clutter up the capital in summer? Look, stranger, tourists are a gift for Londoners. Tourists are in a state of wonder. We've all been there.

Tourists are snootily derided by the very London-dwellers who are forever bothering the poor foreigner with their polished diffidence in Provence, Tuscany or the Caribbean. These gripers are the very people who expect to be accepted as special abroad. In fact the word 'tourist' is a cold, complacent insult. We're all tourists. We're all on a lease.

In some languages, 'stranger', 'foreigner' and 'guest' are the same word. The poorer the nation, the longer the national anthem and the warmer the welcome to strangers, who bring luck, the chance to give something.

It is true herds, gaggles or schools of tourists can be what we in Britain call a nuisance, a moving, amoeboid, lurching, jellyfish-like microsociety, collectively clingy.

Crocodiles of Euro-youth cross the road as one inseparable being. The kids believe they have right of way, that you can disrupt the traffic in London and it's cool. That in insular England you can be cheeky, naughty, slightly rebellious, endearingly eccentric, without getting into trouble. They believe you could probably borrow a policeman's helmet and all the bobby would do is say: 'Now then sonny, tut tut.' They may even think that our policeman have rugby ball-shaped heads which is why their helmets are so funny.

So much of British life is so inexplicable. Worldwide, English people are widely regarded as mad. So visitors expect a lot from London, England. They expect it to be swinging. They expect a certain kind of whimsy from the English, the kind of friendly cheek represented by the Beatles from Liverpool.

Ray Davies of the Kinks had the tone of London brilliantly in his songs. Waterloo sunset. What are we living for, two-room apartment, second floor. The taxman's taken all my dough, left me in my stately home. The picture is partly of a stately architecture, lush lawns, a yellow Rolls Royce parked, and people behaving inexplicably.

So maybe the groups are a nuisance but, individually, people from away staying here should be able to expect a certain humour, good humour, from London, not just grandeur and pomp. The 1980s have shaved the humour off a lot of London life.

Last week there was a man in the underpass maze of Marble Arch shouting out instructions to tourists baffled by the hieroglyphics: 'Tube straight ahead, Oxford Street first right.'

He was, in fact American, maybe 60, with Buffalo Bill moustache, hair and air. For him, xenophobia was simply alien.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border