When I think of London bobbies (policemen), I usually think of seriously neat, black uniforms, large helmets (I’ve learnt never to call them hats), clippety-clop shiny black shoes and deep voices. What I don’t think of is comedy, but that’s exactly what we experienced a while back: a genuine, London, stand-up bobby.
We’d not long been in London, and we went with a friend of ours to see an ABBA Tribute Concert at Hyde Park. It was, as you gather, an outdoor concert, in the heart of central London. Magical. However, I don’t know why, but I always feel compelled to justify why we went to see an ABBA Tribute Concert. It’s maybe because I think I’ll drop down the hip-meter (to the artificial hip-meter perhaps?), or because deep down, secretly, I do actually quite like ABBA. Being a teenager in the 1970s, ABBA was part of the soundtrack of our lives and, although I have never owned an ABBA album, I know pretty much every one of their songs. Word for word.
So back to Hyde Park … the line-up of artists to perform ABBA songs was quite mind-blowing really. Lulu, Elaine Page, Kylie Minogue, Jamie Cullum, Marty Pellow, Chaka Khan, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Jason Donovan … the list goes on. The two Bs – Bjorn and Benny – from ABBA joined in too, and said they couldn’t believe that 35 years on, they would witness 36,000 people in Hyde Park singing along to all their songs. It was pretty awesome. We stood and locked arms with our neighbours and swayed and sang our hearts out – Dancing Queen has never sounded so good.
When the concert was over, and we were walking towards the gates to leave Hyde Park, there were some crowd control measures in place, with stern-looking coppers barricading us in, to stop us all crossing the road en masse. A copper was standing in a little raised booth at the gate, microphone in hand, dishing out instructions to the crowds. He was our “stand-up bobby”. He was absolutely hilarious, and embodied so much of the English humour that I know and love. It was like being treated to another show.
He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience. You are being held here for your safety. And, quite frankly, for my amusement. And because I can. Once you get to the tubes, and the Transport Police take over, no-one’s looking after you – you’re anyone’s game.”
He asked the crowds if he was better than the ABBA show, and someone shouted “NO!” so he said, “That’s why I’ve put tickets on all your cars. Now who’s laughin’?”
He also said, “‘eard the one about the brain who went into the pub, went up to the barman, asked for a pint. He said I can’t serve you, you’re outta your ‘ead!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience. You are being held here for your safety. Hey, I should put that on a loop, add a bit of backbeat and some scratch … then, Mr Simon Cowell, who’d be number one at Christmas, eh?”
Someone asked him for his number, so he said, “999!”
It was the most refreshing surprise, in what could have been a truly exasperating prolonged exit from the concert. We didn’t even notice we were standing there for about 20 minutes, and, to be honest, we didn’t really want to leave!
So a stand-up bobby and a librarian who made me laugh. What can London produce next? A charismatic politician? You must be bleedin’ joking!
Sunshine signing off for today!