Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bees

Some moons ago when I was in my late teens, I lived for a while in a flat right at the end of the Fulham Palace Road.
It wasn't too bad a place; kitchen in the living room, bathroom with hot and cold water and a bed made out of scaffolding poles in order to save space.
It was also above a kebab shop so ordering food was easy, all I had to do was send a basket down on a rope with the order and money in it to the open shop front below, and a few minutes later, dinner in a basket, hurrah!
But that's nothing to do with the story. The story involves the view from my flat which overlooked the junction of two main roads, a pub, a mini-roundabout and the exit from a park, all of which I could view from my scaffolding bed where I could laze about and observe without being seen.
The day was one of the lovely hot summer variety. Outside cars were stuck in traffic due to the Friday rush hour which was worse than usual thanks to an accident at Hammersmith Roundabout and the occupants of the almost stationary vehicles were turning lovely shades of red and pink as they basted in the bright sunlight.
All along the road pedestrians strolled about wearing the minimun clothing decency allowed, while baking in the direct sunshine and choking on traffic fumes.
Temperatures were rising as the traffic ever so slowly inched it's weary way homewards.
I was watching from the flat which was beautifully cool thanks to the sun not shining on it and two fans set to maximum and all the windows being open.
After a while I got down from the bed and went to get a cold drink which was when I noticed a strange droning sort of noise. I looked all around to try and find what was causing it but to no avail.
I settled myself in a chair and went back to 'people watching' which was when I saw a few bees flying in through my open windows.
I closed the windows PDQ and realized that I could still hear the droning noise.
A look out of the window later I worked out what was causing it.
Above the mini-roundabout, was the biggest swarm of bees I have ever seen in my life. I'm no expert, but even I could tell that this wasn't quite your average swarm as the air level with my windows was almost black with them.
A few seconds later however, they dispersed a bit with many of them flying lower to the ground at car level.
It took the people in their cars a surprisingly long time to figure out what the hell was going on, but sure enough they slowly cottoned on.
What happened next was a cross between a Hammer House of Horror and a Carry On film.
The more intelligent people rolled up their windows as soon as they twigged, but a few numbnuts got out of their cars, porbably because they had a bee in them. When they realized there were even more bees outside their cars was when they started to panic.
Amid the beginings of the commotion a police car drew up and the passenger copper got out to see what was going on and tell people to get back in their cars.
The people didn't want to get back in their cars as they were now full of bees, and I can't say I blamed them.
Things got even worse when the traffic tried moving and more cars arrived on the scene and discovered the bees. This caused a sort of domino effect with new people driving their cars into the backs of the stationary cars which really began to make people angry.
The bees didn't help as they got a bit upset at some of them being swatted and in their distress began stinging folk.
The next ten minutes was something I wish I could go back in time and film.
It involved violence, road rage and nudity as people tried to remove bees from their clothing, and it was when one huge woman took her bra off and began screaming in front of a semi-naked police man that I cracked up laughing.
I suppose it was one of those 'You had to 'bee' there moments, but the image of that day will be stuck in my brain for many years to come.
I wish I knew how many insurance forms were issued that day, and all because of a few little bees, which flew away after twenty minutes or so.
I still giggle every time I drive past there.