Nobody knew quite what we were waiting for, truth be told. The genesis of the crowd turned out to be a queue of people waiting to be served, which mingled with a group of teenagers, ambling along with nowhere special to go. After that, people just seemed to join the crowd to see what everyone else was there for.
The enterprising and opportunists made good money. There were hot food stands, jugglers and buskers, people selling watches only available at Harrods and at what a price. Soon there was a carnival feeling to the whole place and people chatted to others near them that they'd never even met before. Some shared their food and friendships we made that day endured for a long time.
The police attended before long but there were few arrests despite the growing numbers and the lack of anything actually happening. As always, a few tried to take advantage of the good-natured, somewhat inattentive crowd and wallets and purses were stolen. Isn’t that almost what people are expecting now? The police moved about the crowd a little more often, reassuring revellers that we were as safe as they could be.
Impromptu singing began in the middle of the afternoon. As the sun showed itself for the first time that day, a cheer went up and a medley of chart hits began. Nobody knew who was leading the singing but it was so well coordinated those too far back to see for certain thought this must be what the gathering was for.
Closer to tea time, the crowd began to thin. The singing wound down until just small pockets were still going on, by then no longer coordinated and each group singing their own choices instead. The food sellers packed up and left, sensing there soon wouldn’t be any trade left. Shoppers heading for car parks were no longer caught up in the throng, proceeding homeward unimpeded.
Despite nothing really happening nobody complained, not that there would have been anyone to complain to. We had a sense of wellbeing and happiness, as if we had been part of something special. And perhaps we had.
Inspired by “Crowds gather for funeral of Bee Gee Robin Gibb”