The incredulous chair-snatching caper on Carnaby Street

You know that you’re traipsing around the globe with a junior shopaholic version of yourself, when the Kid looks you squarely in the eye, and declares that sightseeing for the day has been officially scrapped, as the next 24 hours will be devoted entirely towards the acquisition of 50% off  priced European bargains – or, as much as can possibly be carted across the pond without raising the suspicions of Canadian Customs agents for grossly exceeding one’s permitted yearly allotment of declared goods – all without getting thrown in the slammer for importing what appears to be an excessive amount of Kate Middleton inspired designer frocks and handbags. Like, seriously? 

 What happened to my former French Revolutionary affection ado and “Marie-Antoinette wanna-be” obsessed niece?  You know – the one who had to be forcibly removed from the Palace of Versailles because she tried to set up camp in one of the opulent and majestically ornate state rooms?  You know – the one who literally dragged her dear ol’ Auntie to all 250+ museums and exhibitions within every last square inch of the parameter of Paris?  You know – the one who had our complete London itinerary mapped out on an Excel spreadsheet, with not a minute to spare, lest we should, “God forbid”, deviate from the meticulously detailed schedule and wander off the beaten path?

Meandering along artsy and funky Carnaby Street would therefore be quite the nostalgic journey indeed, as we jumped back in time to a groovy, happy, hippy 1960’s swinging London, where miniskirts, Twiggy, Mary Quant and the Rolling Stones dominated the social scene.  The Kid’s dad was of British descent and she had grown up hearing endless tales of cool music bands and even cooler London folk just hanging out on this three block long narrow street, a stone’s throw from Regent and Oxford.  Anxious to experience the feel and ambiance of her daddy’s youthful stomping grounds, my niece was determined to walk in his footsteps and re-create treasured moments in time and immerse herself in a fragment of her roots and heritage.


Hence my 7:00am wake-up call commanding me to wake up, get dressed and skedaddle as quickly as my pink-sneakered feet were able to, as the Kid was on a mission to shop till she dropped and then some.  Out the door by 8:00am, we had quite a hike ahead of us, as the journey would involve numerous stops along the way, the allure of “final clearance markdown” bargains too enticing to pass on by.

It therefore came as no surprise that we ended up within the vicinity of Carnaby Street around lunchtime, tuckered out and famished, anxious to put our feet up and partake of some serious people-watching whilst languishing in a quaint outdoor café.  Spotting what appeared to be a cool British pub that was already crammed full of patrons indulging in Guinness, cigarettes and laid-back “attitude”, the Kid and I gleefully raced towards “Shakespeare’s Head” in search of vacant seating.  What happened next is akin to a scene out of a comedy film, as just as I was reaching for an adjacent chair, it was instantaneously snatched from under me by a scrawny chain smoking wisp of a granny, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere, stealthily scooting away and depositing her new-found chair on the other side of the patio.  Like, hello? What just happened here? One minute, I was about to sit down on a chair and the next minute it is literally grabbed from under my pink-sneakered bottom, leaving me both speechless and seconds away from un-elegantly planting my hinny on the cool, dank pavement. 

Surprised, shocked and stupefied at the sheer audacity of someone so brazen as to shamelessly steal a chair from literally under one’s feet, the Kid and I didn’t have the gumption to chase after “Grandma chair snatcher”, mercilessly bowl her down and reclaim our pub chair - even though we had every right to do so, and would have been victoriously cheered on by a small army of equally aghast pub patrons, who had also been witness to this unbelievably gutsy chaise snatch episode.

Seat-less, chair-less and lunch-less, the Kid and I had no choice but to now search for another pub.  Refusing to allow this bold act of nervy impudence dampen our spirits, we laughed it off, chalking it up as a once in a lifetime (let’s hope!!) experience that added an unexpected element of incredulity to our globe-trotting escapades, a memory that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

And so it was that we stumbled upon a little bit of Parisian culture a few doors away from the English pub that we did not get to eat in, instead discovering the gastronomic delights of  “C’est Ici Brasserie”, where we were privileged to sample some of the best frites and burgers in London.

Some things are just meant to be and so perhaps on one of my future visits to Carnaby Street, I’ll be older, wiser and on the lookout for a sneaky grey-haired chain-smoking wisp of a granny,  lurking around the corner of the pub, waiting for her next unsuspecting prey.

Come traipse around Carnaby Street and discover avant-garde cool music, French bistros, and the Doc Martens store – all the while trying to outsmart the sneaky chaise snatchers, who are waiting in the wings, anxious to pull that rug (or, as in my case, chair) out from under your pink-sneakered feet.

Next week – Where do my pink sneakers take me? Buckingham Palace?  The Tower of London?  The London Eye?  Paddle-boat racing in Hyde Park? 

Stay tuned for more adventures with the Kid and Auntie Nora as we tour the fabulous city of London.

0 Response to "The incredulous chair-snatching caper on Carnaby Street"

Post a Comment