a lot, but when you read things like this, it's hard not to.
So, I became exasperated and said ‘Is there no-one working here who speaks English? This is Paddington - this is still a London neighbourhood.’
A well-dressed man came over and said ‘I speak English.’ I thought he was going to intervene on my behalf but instead came out with this astonishing observation:
‘You are a racist! You are a racist ape! Look at you-- you are an ape!’
I was dumbfounded. I came to London thirty-two years ago to soak up the culture of Dr Johnson and Chaucer and Milton, and in the autumn of my life am called an ape by a man from, well, perhaps Egypt, perhaps Palestine, perhaps Saudi Arabia..
Shocked, I glared at him, but he had to finish things off : ‘You want them to speak Hebrew, don’t you?’
And at the end:
I wandered over to the flower shop and found myself commiserating with what seemed to be two Englishwomen who lived in a permanent state of fear in a neighbourhood they had called their own for generations. They told me I must have been mad going into that shop, as ‘all the establishments in Edgware Road are off-limits to us now.’ They told me there was one small café that was safe for a western woman.
"...safe for a western woman." In London.