Touristic type no. 4: The American family. These come in fours, Dad, Mom, and two kids, one of each sex. They will be dressed in toning pastel polo shirts, knee length shorts and very white trainers. Dad will be carrying a large rucksac and a guide book. They are normally seen on the Circle line approaching Tower Hill tube station where they have invariably found four seats together so they can sit in a row. They always sit in order, either Mom, Junior, Junior, Dad, or Mom, Junior F, Dad, Junior M. You never see Mom and Dad sitting together, possibly because it offends their religious beliefs to sit next to one another in public. I don’t know how they always find seats together, even during rush hour; I suspect there is a secret US SWAT team whose sole mission is to travel on the Circle line saving seats for American tourists.

American tourists are fairly harmless. The only time one of them irritated me was at Heathrow, where we had just got off a plane from the US. I headed into the toilets just before Passport Control, followed by an American mom and her daughter, who went into cubicles either side of me. The mom then proceeded to shout across to her daughter “Put paper on the seat before you sit down, honey, the people in this country are dirty.” It was only my disinclination to embarrass her in front of her daughter that stopped me from saying loudly “But on the up side, they do speak English”.

More tomorrow.