Touristic type 2: the Italian family. These usually number either six or seven in total. The variable is the number of kids; there are always three adults who are inevitably dressed in black with little flashes of colour, perhaps on a Gucci trainer or an Armani windbreaker. They have very nice sunglasses.
The speciality of the Italian family is stopping whilst one of the adults, always male, consults a map as the others spread out to colonise a mathematically exact 85% of the pavement. If they cannot satisfactorily locate themselves from the map, another of the adults, invariably female, will approach the nearest passing local and ask for directions using the only three words of English she knows: “Tower of London?” When I worked opposite the Tower of London this was relatively easy, as all I needed to do was turn them around and point. Now I work in the Strand it’s slightly more challenging unless a number 15 bus happens to be passing, in which case I point at that. Italian tourists who were expecting the Tower of London to be somewhat larger and less mobile may be a trifle disappointed at this.
One interesting thing is that no Italian will ever ask for directions to Madame Tussaud’s. I have known many many Italians over a career involving fifteen years working with the Italian shipping industry and I can tell you that there are only two places they want to go in London, Harrods and Madame Tussaud’s, yet they never ask for directions. Maybe it’s genetic and they’re just born knowing the way, like eels returning to the Sargasso Sea.
Touristic type 3: the English family. Recognisable by the fact that they are all dressed in England football strips, even the mother, except for the youngest girl who will be in a fairy outfit. They are actually relatively benign and don’t take up too much space, with two exceptions. The first is when Gran is with them, particularly on the tube. Gran will be showing all the signs of someone who has never been on the Underground before and will clearly have absolutely no idea what is going on, aside from the fact that she will be clinging with grim determination to her self-imposed duty not to let any of her grandchildren out of her sight for so much as a second whilst they are in London. It’s entirely pointless speaking to her as she will either not notice you at all or else will interpret your benign request that she move a bit so that you can get off as a substantiated reason to raise the grandchild-kidnap-threat level to Amber One Zero and will thus become completely immobile. It’s best to just go to your happy place and wait while her daughter goes through the required “Mum, we’re getting off here. Mum!” manoeuvres.
The only other time I have seen an English family getting in the way involved Gregg’s. There is a Gregg’s on the Strand and they had clearly gone there to get their lunch but, and this is the weird bit, they had stopped to eat it the second they got out of the shop. And I do mean the second; they had clearly just stepped off the tiles onto the pavement, stopped walking and started to push slices of pizza into their faces, with the result that they were blocking not just the doorway but a mathematically exact 85% of the pavement. Maybe they were Italians in disguise. On the other hand, would an Italian family really eat pizza from Gregg’s? Discuss.
A Bake Off intermission tomorrow!!