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Touristic types no. 5a. The Japanese tourist. You don’t see so many of these any more. Their heyday was probably the eighties, when they were EVERYWHERE, often in large groups. Their drop in numbers is probably more to do with the long-term stagnation of the Japanese economy than any threat to their natural environment, since as far as I know the Tower of London, Horse Guards Parade and Buckingham Palace are still there. They have one major overriding feature, namely, taking pictures, which in fact technically makes them a subset of Touristic Type no. 5, the Photographer.

The Photographer used to be recognised by his or her camera, now replaced by a mobile phone or even an iPad, but the method is the same. 1. Select famous London monument and travel to same with buddy or family member. 2. Find piece of pavement with view of said monument. 3. Position buddy or family member on side of pavement closest to monument in order to provide foreground interest. 4. Position self on opposite side of pavement in order to get view of monument with buddy or family member in foreground. 5. Spend five minutes waving camera around while you compose the shot.

If you are a Londoner, you get used to being held up whilst somebody waves an iPhone around trying to capture the perfect shot of little Hiroaki in front of the London Eye. For twenty years I worked in a building in St Katherine’s Dock, right across from the Tower of London. To get to and from the Tube, the sandwich shops, or indeed anywhere, you had to either cross a massive junction with about five sets of traffic lights or walk along a narrow path which ran across in front of the Tower of London. At one point, and one point only, on this path, you could see down the side of the Tower to Tower Bridge. It was the only place it was possible to get a shot of Tower Bridge with the Tower of London in the foreground, and therefore with the exception of the morning, since most tourists did not come out before nine am, EVERY SINGLE TIME I walked along that path, which would be about three times a day, there would be someone blocking the path while trying to take a picture of someone else in front if the view.

Now, walking in front of someone who is about to take a picture seems churlish. The trouble is, the second you stop and wait, you discover that the person you thought was about to take a picture still has about five minutes of fannying around to go while they attempt to get their picture absolutely perfect. Taking the view that life is too short to wait and possibly spoiling their picture seems mean; surely no one is in so much of a hurry that they can’t wait thirty seconds? Trouble is, I once worked out that in twenty years of working in that office, if I had waited every time there was a tourist trying to take a picture in that spot, I would have given up a whole day of my life. Would you wait thirty seconds for a tourist to take a picture? Of course you would. Would you wait twenty-four hours? Heck, no!

More tomorrow.