power

A very tall, very thin woman, in high-heeled two-tone shoes, cut-off and highly stylised jeans, a short leather jacket and hair carefully placed and sprayed, was standing outside the post office in Islington’s Upper Street having a really engaging conversation with the Big Issue seller. He was at least a foot shorter than her (Highness), unshaven, unkempt, dishevelled and probably smelly. He looked rough, and ruffled by her. She was laughing, shaking her head – “oh yes, yes! ha ha ha!” – as he looked up, blushing and blinking. This was a performance: he briefly useful, the ultimate accessory to her good and gorgeous self . “I’m not only beautiful and rich,” she was telling the rest of us, “I’m also kind-hearted and get on well with beggars.” He knew she was enjoying his poverty and appropriating his space, which during those long minutes became hers. He was in her shadow. I wanted to wait and watch, see her turn and stride up the street towards the shop with the giant meringues, but she would have noticed me and I didn’t want to encourage her. I wanted to throw an egg at her. I regret that I was a coward.

The level of self-consciousness that exists in London is suffocating.

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