Thursday, January 13, 2011

London 22.12.10: Cockney Sparrows and Charming Shtick

What to say about the man who retrieved us at Gatwick when we landed?  The travel agent made arrangements with a service that meets travelers and ferries them (metaphorically speaking, needless to say) to their destination.  I’ve been putting off writing about A.G., because he was such a caricature of himself, and I suspect a self-conscious, deliberate one, a self-send up.

And so anything I write falls into the trap of his self-caricature, and adds caricature to caricature.  A caricature Cockney: Whatever you say, governor!  I love Americans.

By the time we’ve arrived at the hotel, we know his life story, or the (tailored? customer-oriented?) version of it he wishes to share with us.  Seventy-six, Japanese wife who’s 45, a high-powered banker, daughter of a noted calligrapher and professor of history.  First wife died tragically due to malpractice at a noted Kensington hospital, and A.G. received a comfortable settlement.

And there’s more, but I’m loath to record it, because it’s even more personal, and though I smelled some shtick in how this interesting man presented himself—I know how to charm people, he said more than once—I also think he was genuine.

And warm-hearted.  And chipper.  As a sparrow.  And so I can’t avoid presenting him as a typical, feisty, large-hearted Cockney sparrow who knows how to seize the main chance and make his way in life, very well.  With unfailing good humor.

And I’ve therefore walked right into the trap he set for me, by depicting himself as an iconic Cockney . . . .

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