(as suggested by @Harry_Flowers)
My first visit to London was in the middle of the summer of 1995. I travelled down from the North East by train, opting for a seat in the cheaper ‘non-blinking’ carriage. Making a four-hour journey while doing nothing but staring into the middle distance was a tall order, but seeing my fellow, weaker passengers being roughly removed from their seats and hurled out of the window of the still-moving train was enough of an incentive for me to resist the urge to move my eyelids.
I was ready for the inevitable culture shock upon my arrival in the capital, having prepared by watching Sunderland Council’s informative set of fifteen ‘Are You REALLY Sure You Want To Visit That London?’ videos.
Thankfully, everything was as I expected when I alighted at Kings Cross and as was traditional, I was met and gret by a newsreader. On that occasion it was Nicholas Witchell – I can still feel the tenderness of his kiss to this day.
Smiling and reeking slightly of vinegar, Witchell issued me with a pamphlet containing a guide to London’s curtain laws, the opening hours of the city’s domino houses and for some reason that I have never been able to fathom, a charcoal drawing of a singing penis (circumcised.)
In truth, Witchell’s information pack wasn’t needed – this was a day trip and I was in London for a specific purpose, namely to have a new voice-box inserted into my horse.
Stupidly, I had overdosed the beast on the tranquilisers that I hoped would keep him sedated during the journey and rather than ride him proudly through the city’s streets, I was forced to drag him along behind me. A kind policeman slapped a ‘not actually dead’ sticker on to Chopper’s rump, which helped me sidestep some awkward questions as I slowly meandered my way to Harley Street.
The voice-box transplant was completed successfully as I napped in the waiting room and Chopper went on to regain his place in the choir less than a year later. Since then, I have visited London over 400 times, almost always while wearing some kind of disguise.
Every single sojourn to our fair capital has been a joy, whether it be to work as a steward at the European Reggae Conference at Earl’s Court or just to hang around outside Buckingham Palace in the vain hope that the Queen might throw some of her eggs out of the window.
So if you’re ever passing the Palace and you see a man standing facing the building, his head pointed to the sky and his mouth wide open, please say hello won’t you?