I studied his face. His eyes and mouth formed a mild enquiry. None of the bulging and slavering we Londoners expect when a complete stranger who tries to start a conversation. Perhaps he was only visiting London, and no one had told him that striking up conversations is something we just don’t do.
I decided he didn’t look like a drug addict, suicide bomber, axe murderer or any of the other pathologies we associate with such behaviour. It was only when I’d done finished the dangerous nutter checklist, Londoners for the use of, that I registered what he’d just said. Something about David Cameron getting a new job now he’d resigned from Parliament.
I weighed the words, but found no indication of sanity or insanity. He could have been commenting on an article in the Evening Standard he was leafing through. He could have been lamenting the demise of his plan to murder our former prime minister on Birdcage Walk, and was looking for a suitable proxy now his target’s whereabouts were no longer predictable.
I decided that the chances of his being a murderer were, all things considered, rather low. I replied that I didn’t think Cameron would need a new job as he was a millionaire by inheritance and had only gone into politics as a hobby.
David Cameron is one of the few people who can be safely disparaged in polite conversation.
Oh billions, he said, and added that at least Cameron had a few more ethics than Tony Blair.
I breathed a sigh of relief. His understanding of Blair’s ethical deficit proved him to be a reasonable man.
That’s why I didn’t flinch when he turned the page of the Evening Standard and told me the new plastic five-pound-notes wouldn’t fit in his wallet.