Fajitas, Fascists and The Future

London – Thursday – I get on the bus and take £2.40 out of my pocket for the fare. The driver informs me London buses are now cash free.

‘So you’re a comedian now,’ reply I, attempting to hand over the money as I do so.

He shakes his head glumly and says, ‘No cash’.

A number of the other passengers nod in agreement. I ask, ‘Why?’

The driver tells me 99% of passengers find it more convenient to pay with Oyster cards (travel cards). My Oyster card is at home.

‘And the other 1%?’ I enquire.

My question is met with shrugging, gesturing, perplexity. I find myself back on the pavement, where I proceed to complain vehemently to any people waiting for a bus who care to listen. A teenaged girl says I can use her spare Oyster card for a fee, which is slightly in excess of what the journey actually costs, but needs must.

London Bus

On the upper deck of the bus I find myself in a reflective mood, contemplating what it will be like living in a cash-free Britain.  It is only a matter of time. In my mind’s eye I see myself aged about a hundred remembering the nostalgic days of my relative youth when money was still used. No doubt I will be met with shrugging perplexity when I tell youngsters about those distant memories.

So deep in thought was I that I missed my stop and was forced to hurry back on foot so as not to be late to meet a friend. We went to a Mexican restaurant, where I ordered chicken fajitas, and my dining companion a seafood enchilada, or was it a burrito, or perhaps a fajita – I forget. There was a group of very friendly Japanese lawyers on an adjoining table, who communicated with us in broken English.  There was also a table containing amiable, smiling Spanish tourists, who were also keen to converse. I couldn’t remember London ever seeming so friendly and welcoming. Then I looked up and saw this group (see below). Note the individual with his back to the camera wearing a West Coast Choppers biker t-shirt bearing Nazi insignia (Eagle and Iron Cross).


I was so astounded that I took a photograph of the group, much to the chagrin of the baseball cap wearing one (facing camera).  Several of them stormed over to our table and made various threats to our wellbeing, instantaneously destroying the restaurant’s friendly ambience. It was evident from the not particularly threatening nature of their threats that they weren’t genuine West Coast Choppers, but rather English wannabe bikers, which was most fortunate, as otherwise I suspect I would have lived to regret my actions.


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  • Can’t believe that dude would wear that t-shirt and then get angry when it gets attention. London buses not taking cash is crazy. It is one less thing that the drivers have to worry about though.

  • I wonder how long it’ll be before the wide boys start touting fake cards to the visitors. Maybe they’ll change their minds and be more reasonable then.
    As for the wannabe bikers, maybe that’s the new uniform for the UKIP voters.

  • I can see the advantages of the Oyster cards as it means drivers aren’t left vulnerable with large amounts of cash in the cab, but it should be well publicised so that people are aware of it before they get on a bus.
    Yes, the West Coast Choppers do not appear at all friendly and welcoming, do they?

    • I agree with your points about the Oyster cards Diane. Personally I always felt that bus drivers have enough stress without having to sell tickets as well. Let’s hope we never incur the wrath of a convoy of West Coast Choppers on an American highway.

  • If those Choppers dress to attract attention, why do they get upset when they attract attention?
    Soon cards will be obsolete and one’s embedded microchip will be read for everything from food to travel to healthcare and, finally, burial. Then once more, for the headstone.

  • Guy, Thanks for the view of a cashless society.I’m already there. BTW I don’t believe the Nazi’s placed the eagle and iron cross together the way depicted on that shirt. The swastika yes, but iron cross no. Glad those guys weren’t American and were just behaving like Americans

    • I guess these biker gangs have just adopted what they think looks good. Good to hear you’re already living in a cashless society John. I am still holding out.

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