As London grows in size and diversity, its streets are beginning to crowd with more and more exotic species. Pelicans picnic with the ducks in St James Park, golden pheasants roam freely at Kew Gardens and rare Wallaby sightings have even been made near Highgate Cemetery. For the most part, these animals tend to keep to themselves, but, in recent times, a more invasive creature has been discovered wandering amongst the general population. Arriving from various corners of the globe, these animals do not occur natively in our boroughs, since they struggle to live indefinitely in the city’s highly-strung ecosystem. With its Latin name yet to be confirmed, the species continues to go by a longstanding colloquialism, known simply to the locals as: The Tourist.
Since the sight of new wildlife can be alarming to the public, the government is keen to arm its citizens with as much information as possible, especially when a species’ activity is so remarkably brazen. On more than one occasion, the Tourist has been spotted walking into restaurants and bars, cramming every available chair with its surplus young and specifically asking for food that has never featured on any recorded menu. Some reports suggest they have even taken crumbs from the hands of passers-by, descending from trees in Richmond Park and skulking back when they’ve eaten their fill. Although these claims remain unsubstantiated, it’s clear that the Tourist is a scavenger by trade, wary of overspending the resources it hordes in a pouch around its midriff.
It’s still not known whether the Tourist has any real sentience. Often, lone members can be found staring listlessly at buildings or shop windows, attracted by their ostensibly ordinary features. Experts suggest they are displaying characteristic signs of recognition, but their consistent inability to negotiate busy roads suggests this function is considerably underdeveloped. For this reason, the Tourist tends to travel in packs, creating a nonchalant blockade between its weaker members and the steady rush of oncoming motorists. Strangely, this tactic often works in its favour, though it’s predicted the Tourist will eventually die out, should it continue to treat Regent Street like a child’s paddling pool.
Perhaps in an attempt to counteract its limited memory, the Tourist makes use of crude tools such as the tablet and the iPad. These devices are used in place of its eyes, which have become redundant over many years of evolution. However, the Tourist isn’t content with simple snaps of its surroundings, insisting instead on overcrowded images of London landmarks, in many cases, obscuring them completely them with its own outlandish plumage. Seen only during periods of migration to the capital, the vivid markings across its chest proudly display its love for our city, presumably, in a bid to blend in. Unfortunately, so far, these attempts at camouflage have been utterly futile, leaving the Tourist to bow its red, white and blue crown in abject disgrace.
Whilst it is easy to detest the sight of these creatures on our golden pavements, the public is reminded not to kick out at them in the same way we dismiss the common pigeon. Not only is this a flagrant abuse of many laws, it is also an obsolete act. The Tourist, by nature, moves at a much slower pace and cannot be spurred on by loud huffing or passive-aggressive side shuffles. Since it seems these indolent creatures are here to stay, we must learn to live harmoniously side by side. Left to fend for itself, the Tourist will not survive, meaning, despite its toll on our working day, we may have to lug an overflowing suitcase up an underground stairwell more times than we’d first envisioned.