Despite being full of grey suits London is the epicentre for the weird and wonderful. There are mad and eccentrics at each turn; batty West Indian shopkeepers, Uncle Monty types, and a plethora of rambling tramps to name but a few.
I met a rather peculiar fellow over breakfast last week – a lose maverick of a man, but a man who appeared to enrich the vivacious tapestry of the world.
I came across Anthony Woodcock on a Saturday morning, whilst on a stroll or rather a shuffle through the generous early morning sunshine. My poor old eyes stung as if each sin had personally whipped them and my head as if it had been trod on by an errant elephant. The only way to survive this alarming predicament would be eggs Benedict washed down by a sumptuous black velvet.
The nearest pub was located in a gorgeous sun trap. It proclaimed itself to sell fine ales and food from the heavens, which was just the tonic. The order was quickly taken by a garrulous Northerner and I picked up The Times. Amongst the tables, chairs, and bottles on the floor was a lump of unshaped horseflesh. An elderly gent was sat like a lumpen piece of furniture, holding onto a scintillant large glass of wine as if it was his only vestige of life. I nodded, trusting that this would be our solitary interaction during my breakfast.
I don’t like to bothered before noon usually.
Reading the paper I felt a presence linger over me – this elderly gent was looking over me in a wholly undemonstrative manner, just his weak lungs working like an ancient hospital ventilator. I looked at him and observed his eclectic garb; an oversized Hawaiian shirt, a golden medallion, baggy capris, and beige sandals.
Surely the outfit of a madman.
“Any good deals in there?” he asked as I perused the sports pages.
I replied with a quizzical look.
“Egypt? I hear is lovely this time of year” he said with a salacious smack of his lips.
The major issue was that I was fascinated by this stentorian man – guarding the pub like an eccentric gargoyle but looking like an aged cherub. He introduced himself as Anthony, a loyal member of a local brotherhood and I politely answer indifferently, occasionally adding personal flurries of eccentricities.
The conversation ran dry and my food arrived.
“It has been a long day,” he slightly slurred. “I’ve been hosting his party since 7”
I looked at my watch and noticed it was twenty five after ten. What party? Was I at a party? Were there more people that I had ignored or was this chap mildly insane?
He introduced himself again, preening his almost retired cotton like hair. During this second meeting he allowed his artistic side to flow like the river of Pinot in his glass. His body was flaccid, aside from the occasional swoosh, but his eyes danced like nervous ballerinas. I had begun to switch off and appreciated his burbling like a dangerous radio.
“I was the butler to the Lord Mayor himself and lover to the finest tenor this side of Venice…” His eyes glazed slightly and he gripped the stem of his Pinot. He looked stoically into the horizon or perhaps the past.
I returned to my paper. I was only a sentence into a discourse on the merits of Moeen Ali when I spied a small cloud floating perilously close to my eye line – ones immediate though is that the borrowers had lost a cloud – erroneous, for it was wispy fluffs of the woodcock mane. I pulled my paper down to see a face full of childlike innocence.
“I’m having a wooonderful day” he said with exuberance, deep into his fourth glass.
I chomped away at my eggs and smiled kindly at this unique character. He flitted around me trying to catch my attention by burbling away bizarrely. Slowly my interest waned and even a drunk notices a uninterested hung-over man after a while. We sat in silence and allowed the sun to wash over our respective faces.
I soon went to pay my bill and bid adieu to Woodcock, who raised his glass shakily. After what felt like an aeon I returned to where I once was eating to find a cluster of splendid chaps sat at my table with a bottle of bubbly. Lurking like a lonely predator on the periphery of his mob was Woodcock…
He had a full glass in hand, the wine slopping over his wrist like the lazy sea lapping over a gnarled rock.
I strolled down the road and when a looked back saw the eccentric sweaty Woodcock stood rather close to the chaps singing with gusto
“Oh what a beautiful morning..”