London – Day 7 – Part 1


We’’d been staying half a block away from the Tate Britain for nearly a week without going inside. So I did. Then I left. For such a large building, they really didn’’t have much. Reminded me of a car dealership going out of business: only a few cars, forty or so employees wandering around with nothing to do besides pester the few customers, and plenty of parking.

I went back to the hotel and gathered the Generalissimos. Our flight wasn’’t until later that evening, so we thought it’’d be nice to take a stroll near Green Park. And by we, I meant they.

We took the Tube to the Green Park station. Our shadows from Scotland Yard weren’’t taking any chances. I counted thirty “undercover” officers stalking us. The Generalissimo didn’’t seem to mind.

“”They might be willing to provide us with transportation to the airport if we do not spook them!””

“”They’’re not a herd of cattle,”” I said. “”I don’t think they spook.”” Especially as they were armed and we weren’’t. Well, the Generalissimo may have been packing heat, but like most issues regarding the mustachioed avenger of righteousness, I didn’’t really want to know.



We cut down the Queen’s Walk, then diverted into a passage under some apartments. We passed Spencer House on our way to St. James Place. Oscar Wilde and Frédéric Chopin both lived on that street. Their homes were nothing special, or so they appeared from the street. As we weren’’t allowed inside (would you invite us inside your home?), I couldn’’t tell you if the interior was similarly nondescript.

We wandered our way back up to Piccadilly and the Burlington Arcade, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls.

“”Hey, it’s the beadles,”” I said. I was referring, of course, to the tailcoated watchmen who roamed the arcade. I turned around. The Generalissima was by my side, but her counterpart was nowhere to be seen.


The beadles approached. “”He’’s here, isn’’t he?”” one of them said.

The Generalissima smirked. “”You’ll never find him!””

The shorter of the two beadles kept punching his open palm. The other just glared.

“”Um…”” I said.

“”You tell that no good bastard that if he ever shows his face in our arcade ever again, there’’ll be hell to pay!”” the palm puncher said.

The Generalissima took my hand and led me out of the arcade. The Generalissimo was on the sidewalk, pretending to be interested in a window display of handcrafted candies.

““What the hell was that all about?”” I said.

“”Did they see me?”” the Generalissimo whispered.

“”No, my love,”” the Generalissima replied.

The Generalissimo exhaled. “”Thank God.””

“”What the hell—”–”

“”The beadles take their job very seriously,”” she said. “”There are rules of conduct in the arcade.””

“”And he violated one the last time he was here,”” I said. Didn’’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

“”No; he violated all of them. He ran through the arcade singing Baby Got Back, humming the refrains and whistling the tune when he forgot the words and playing a harmonica solo, which required him to set down the umbrella he couldn’t stop opening and closing. Then there was the baby stroller he liberated from some woman to carry around his ridiculously large box of ferrets. They have a picture of him in their office denoting him as their Public Enemy Number One”.”

“”No they don’t!”” the Generalissimo said. He pulled an 8×10 from his tunic. It was a surveillance shot of a younger Generalissimo skipping down the arcade with three angry beadles hot on his ass.


We passed Lock and Company, a hat maker who claims to have invented both the top hat and the bowler. Bully for them.



We paused briefly outside St. James Palace, the main palace for the monarchy until Buckingham Palace took over that responsibility in 1837. It’’s now home to the Yeoman of the Guard.


“”I used to work there!”” the Generalissimo said.

“”You did not,”” I said.


“”Did not!””

““I might have!””

Not far away was Clarence House, home to Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

“”I used to be the Duchess of Cornwall!”” the Generalissimo said.


I ignored him and kept walking. Around the corner was Buckingham Palace.

““I used to–“—” the Generalissimo said.

“”You did not!””

“”I did!””

“GAAAAAAA!”” I went for his throat. Took two of Scotland Yard’’s finest to pry my fingers off him.




The Generalissima thought it best that I not stand too close to the Generalissimo, who was still massaging his neck.

We walked down Buckingham Palace Road toward Victoria station. I was tired, hungry, and wondering what the penalty was for killing a man Scotland Yard wanted behind bars. I was guessing I’’d get some kind of medal and a bump up to First Class for the ride home.

I don’’t know why I stopped. I’’d smelled pasties from various establishments for days, and I’’d somehow managed to resist their tempting scent. But as I stood before the Cornish Bakehouse on Victoria Street, I couldn’’t help myself.

I ordered a traditional meat pasty and a bottle of water. The girl rang me up. I reached for my wallet and looked down. I froze.

And there it was. A Danish.

““I’’ll take the cheese Danish as well,”” I said.

“”It’’s actually custard.””

I shrugged. “”Whatever.”” After the disaster of Harrods cheese Danish, a custard version couldn’’t be worse. I took my bounty outside to a table where the Generalissimos waited, surrounded by a dozen of our escorts.

“”What did he do this time?”” I said. “”Flash someone?””

“”He made a threatening statement,”” one of them said.

“”Did not!””

I sat down and started eating. The meat pasty was good. A little greasy, but I’’d had worse. I looked at the custard Danish. Then the Generalissimo.

I turned to the cop. “”You fellas mind if we taste test this Danish before you arrest him?””

“”Fine. Just hurry.”

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