Familiar faces in London

What are the chances..? Bumping into familiar faces in London Village

The day before my flight I’d organised to meet up with some mates of mine in Bath for nosh and booze, as I had done on the first day of my previous trip, which makes it in danger of becoming a seeing-off tradition. I’d managed to catch up with most people in the month leading up to my departure date, but seeing as I was only off for just over two months this time, I didn’t go to the trouble of organising anything too special. Knees-ups these days are increasingly arthritic affairs anyway.
The next day I was waving off my folks yet again and taking a train up to London. A old travel buddy of mine was just jetsetting back from some time in Japan and I’d timed my departure such that we could link up, so I headed to Heathrow to meet her, waving a hastily-scrawled sign to welcome my Dutch friend to our Formerly Great Britain.
Despite living less than two hours away from London and visiting it four or five times a year to visit friends, I had never really been there as a tourist, at least not since a school trip as a ten year old. I suggested we don fleeces and floppy ears and follow the tourist sheep, and so as dusk fell we wandered into Leicester Square surrounded by a multitude of different languages but united by the common glory of the Tourist Backpack on the hunt for a restaurant serving traditional English stodge that was not an Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse (not an easy task when those red neon blighters are on every corner).
A crowd had gathered outside one of the cinemas on the Square; on closer inspection, it appeared to be premiere night for the flick State of Play. We lingered long enough to see Helen Mirren and Russell Crowe dive into their waiting cars. The professional autograph hunters in front of us were visibly disappointed at their sudden disappearance, but we didn’t mind; the experience had been fun.
Wandering back through the Square and towards a direction I vaguely recognised still looking for food, we passed a pub outside which a few people were sat, enjoying a late evening brew. I stopped dead in amazement, pointing a wavering finger with my gob open.
“…Al?” I managed, thinking I was hallucinating.
“F**K ME!” said the apparition, visibly startled and bolting upright in the chair. Sipping his Stella Dash outside the establishment was my old workmate and friend Al from my one-horse hometown! He was up with work on a conference with his colleague Glen, and we’d just gone and bumped into each other in a city of millions of people. It took us a couple of light ales to get over the massive coincidence, and we had a great old catch-up; it had been about a month since we’d last linked up.
My Dutch friend and I still hadn’t eaten, so after saying cheerio to Glen and Al we trawled the streets around Picadilly in search for a late-night place still serving grub. The only place that fit the bill was, er, an Indian. So much for the Last Meal: let the curry commence.