I foolishly arranged this evening to meet someone at Waterloo at the height of the Friday rush hour. You’d think as a hardened city dweller and commuter I’d be immune to crowds of people but rush-hour Waterloo is something else. Kew Bridge station gets pretty full of an evening but everybody mostly just stands there hunched in misery and doesn’t move about much. In Vauxhall they are a little livelier but in Vauxhall in the evening there’s nothing to do but get off your train and get the hell out so the traffic mostly flows in one direction. In waterloo there are a plethora of shops, strange food outlets found nowhere but in train stations, cafes, bars, cashpoints and actual trains and everyone seems to be rushing from one to the other in different directions simultaneously. Having got off my train, it took me a few minutes just to sidle my way into the main slipstream of commuters (think Wildebeests migrating across the plains of the Serengeti, but with each one carrying an Evening Standard and a hot beverage) and then ease myself out again, washed up on the relatively calm shores of a coffee shop where I could wait for my friend and in the process be parted with an unreasonable amount of money for a hot chocolate and, get this, a chocolate stirrer. This was about as useful as its counterpart the teapot and the whole experience was made even more painful by the staff attempting to give me change for a fiver when I’d handed them a tenner. I think they were confused by the fact that nobody had ever managed to order something in their cafe before that actually resulted in change for a fiver.
Never mind chocolate oranges, David Cameron, ask yourself why it costs more to buy a relatively healthful and non-alchoholic drink at a coffee shop than it does to buy a pint of beer at a London pub. Something wrong there, no? We rectified the situation by repairing to a local pub where we saved ourselves a bundle by getting hammered instead.