"At this time of the year, they seem to be everywhere," says Monty Modlyn of London tourists. The year is 1979, and the Thames TV segment — recently surfaced on YouTube — is a snapshot of how Londoners perceived their visiting counterparts over 40 years ago.
"More than eight million will crowd through the capital in 1979," continues Modlyn — a statistic that's pretty feeble compared to 2018's 20.4 million. It's not a recent perception that London is packed to breaking point, when in fact it's got room for a few more.
Modlyn was a master of the vox pop, and certainly has no trouble here extracting the unadulterated views of the great 1970s unwashed. Some views are hard to swallow all these decades on. A couple of skin-crawling "it's like being in a foreign country" remarks are spewed from the gobs of a prototype Nigel Farage, and an old racist dear old enough to have known Queen Victoria's Empire. You'd hope it would be harder to find such 'characters' on the streets of 2020 London.
Elsewhere, the cockney version of Sonny From Sonny And Cher sits in a van and screams "I wish they'd get out of my f**king way!" like an utter tool, while an unfortunate Janet Street Porter-look-and-sound-alike who works in a bank complains about foreigners in London, decrying: "we have to put up with them all in there, changing their money and that". Wonder when she realised they were keeping her in a job.
One woman — surely slathering on her 'television voice' — is munificent enough to accept that, while she doesn't like foreigners in her city, she supposes she'll put up with them. "We go to to other capital cities and they probably don't like us," she sighs, "It's just one of those things." Someone buy this wonderful lady a new pair of swimming goggles.
Others, thank god, are more embracing of London's tourists, albeit it with a mercenary bent. "It's alright, they bring in plenty of money, don't they," muses a motorcyclist, while a London Transport head honcho declares his love for the whole lot of them. (Well, they do save us 10p in the pound, he continues.)
The most heartening write-up comes from a bus driver and conductor. Modlyn questions their sincerity when they first claim they love tourists. But the pair of likely lads go on: "you get a good laugh out of some of them" (as in they're more interesting than your average Brit), and you see just how genuine they are.
If the pound continues to lose ground against the euro and dollar as it has since 2016, we can expect an increase on the current 20.4 million visitors to London, many of whom are from overseas. And we can all learn a lesson from this video: choose Lovely Transport Worker, over Bigoted Tool With Stupid Voice and Glasses, every time.