Feeling less composed on Westminster Bridge
EARTH has not anything to show more foul – Wordsworth might now say about the fabulous bridge that spans the Thames next to the London Eye. When Mr F and I arrived at Westminster Bridge recently, it was difficult to enjoy the iconic landmark painted by Turner and lauded by writers.
There wasn’t an inch of pavement that wasn’t occupied by Romanian gangs fleecing tourists with the shell game... you know, those three little cups that whiz around and you win money (ha) if you spot where the ball is.
Mr F worked in Westminster for 40 years so knew that the bridge was always packed with holiday makers taking photos. Also the odd peanut seller by the souvenir stalls.
This was something entirely different. Never mind a beautiful landmark ruined, and nowhere to plant your feet, it was sinister to see tourists being so openly conned.
When we got home I contacted Mr Google and discovered these scammers are frequently moved on, but quickly return. There were also sad tales of pickpocketing as people watched the stooges ‘winning’ big money.
And before anyone writes in to say I’m being racist – don’t bother. I’d be equally annoyed if they were from Warwick or West Drayton.
Back at Westminster last Monday, and staying overnight, I was startled to open the curtains next morning to find a huge figure of a man outside my window. Fortunately he turned out to be made of stone.
The Premier Inn at County Hall was once the home of the former GLC where John McDonnell served as deputy to Ken Livingstone. Time may have frozen for that statue but not for our Hayes and Harlington MP, who is now shadow chancellor.
Time has not stood still for our further education college either, but thankfully – unlike Westminster bridge – in a good way. Uxbridge College, which also has a base in Hayes, is celebrating 50 years of success this month.
It has grown from a humble technical college to an Ofsted-rated outstanding place of learning with spanking new buildings.
Former students, staff and governors are invited to the Uxbridge Campus on October 22 any time between 3-8pm for an exhibition of college history and a catch-up with former colleagues and friends. The mayor and the principal will speak at 5pm. Just drop in or register in advance at www.uxbridgecollege.ac.uk/alumni