As we were walking down the street today, a quiet residential street near our home, we spied a television news crew. We walked on. It's London, after all - who knows what it could be about.
We saw a strip of three pregnancy ultrasound scan photos in the gutter maybe 20 yards further on in the gutter. All scan photos look alike, but clearly they're generally quite precious to the person to whom they belong. We knew they hadn't been there long because they were dry, but it had been raining earlier.
We walked back to the news crew - they were clearly staking out someone's home so I figured why not take advantage. We handed off the scan photos to the tv journalist in case someone came back looking for them.
"Do you live on this street?" she asked. No, we sort of pointed off in the general direction of our house.
"Did you know him?" she asked. And then I realised just who they were doorstepping. The widow of a murder victim. The partner of a man who yesterday was doing nothing more than standing at a customer service desk of a grocery store we've shopped at, too. He was hit in the face by another customer and now he's dead. Nice. I wonder what the news woman did with the scan photos.
As we left the news crew, an old man with an adorable dog started off the same way. I think he'd been talking with the reporter. Buddy was quite interested in the dog. He pointed at it and said "dab, blah, dab-blah-blah".
I said something about nice doggie and the old man informed us that she was indeed a very nice dog who loved both children and cats. In fact, she loved them and they loved her. All the cats in the road would approach Skip (the dog) and kiss her. Awwwww. Just awwwww.
But then he said "Yep, Skip's a lovely dog. Better than a wife."
The Vol-in-Law, to his credit, said "Well, a wife's pretty nice, too."
"Not my wife," said the old man. "I had one for 36 years. Glad to be rid of her. Better to have my dog. The wife's in an old person's home and you can have her. No, Skip's a great dog."
(I paraphrase - he went on like this for quite some time until our paths diverged.)
Only in London, said the Vol-in-Law, would a seemingly nice, baby-admiring old man with an adorable dog reveal his dark, wife-hating side to a strangers in the street. London old people often seem to have a special darkness in their soul.
The dog in the photo is probably not Skip, but looks a lot like Skip. Reproduced here under a creative commons license. Image by Chris Jones.