An American friend had a free day in London. She decided to spend it on the top deck of a tourist bus. Sightseeing in this form doesn’t appeal to her husband, but he was indisposed after eating something in Paris, so it was the perfect opportunity to fulfil a girlish ambition.

Alas, this happened on Sunday, when most of the City of London was closed for the Tour of Britain cycle race. There was a procession in Westminster and roadworks near Bank. The bus crept at a snail’s pace through parts of the metropolis that this well-travelled woman had not seen before, but doesn’t especially wish to see again.

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I had every sympathy, panting to her hotel an hour later than we were due to meet for cocktails. My son and I had returned from Ramsgate especially. Only the day before had we gone through the City, not spotting any notice of road closures.

So we too had rather more opportunity than we might have wished to admire the fretted top of the Shard, silhouetted against a peach-coloured sky; to gaze up at a gleaming, extruded flank of the Walkie-Talkie, which might have melted us in a heatwave; and to run our eyes along the sharp planes of the Cheesegrater. Not time entirely wasted, but couldn’t somebody have warned us in advance?

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