Posted on 2013-07-20
Lizzy Bennet (@LizzyBee): Still no news, folks, but I'll keep you updated! Lizzy Bennet is on the scene for her readers! #royalbabywait
'Just tell yourself that at least it isn't winter,' Anne said, distributing the frappucchinos she'd been getting among our group.
Most of us hadn't known each other until quite recently but circumstances had thrown us together and we found we got along reasonably well, which could not be said for all I had encountered in front of the Lindo Wing.
Henry Tilney (@whatahenry): At least I've made a couple of great friends here & learnt about the wonders of frappucchino! #royalbabywait #lindorabble
'In the winter, there might at least be fewer tourists,' Caro muttered darkly.
'No, they'd just wear thicker coats,' Elinor pointed out. 'Thanks, Anne. How much do we owe you?'
''s okay,' Anne muttered thickly, sucking on her straw. 'It was my turn.'
'Which means it's my turn to get lunch,' Henry said affably. 'What do you want to order, ladies?'
'It's barely eleven,' I pointed out. 'This is my breakfast. Why should I think about lunch now?'
'Because in an hour or two, they'll be swamped with orders,' Henry said, probably referring to the little cafe we'd discovered on our third day here, 'or do you want to go to the hospital cafeteria again?'
'All but that,' Caro said. 'I'm having a tuna salad on rye, no tomatoes.'
Caroline Bingley (@CarolineB.): I think this is Kate's revenge on us for hounding her all the time! #royalbabywait #lindorabble
I sucked on my frappucchino, scanning the familiar faces around me, wondering if any of them knew something I did not. Lucy Steele was busy dictating something on her phone, but since her 'sources close to the couple' meant rumours she made up while looking at a picture of the Cambridges, I wasn't concerned by her muttered report that 'friends of the couple have told us in confidence that Kate will be flown in by helicopter tonight.'
Lucy Steele (@juicylucy): Exclusive from me: It's definitely twins! C-section tonight! #royalbabywait
Next to her, John Thorpe was giving the new girl who had replaced Louisa Musgrove the evil eye. He was someone best to be avoided, but the newbie would find out soon enough. There was no doubt that Thorpe would, like he had tried with all of us, attempt to impress her with his photobook of paparazzi shots he had made of Kate ('both before and after the wedding - look, here she is grocery shopping - this is her entering her mother's house -') and how much money he claimed to have got for them.
JohnThorpe (@MrCameraMan): Smile for that money shot, Kate! I'm waiting for you! #royalbabywait
Turning to Anne, I asked, 'have you heard anything from Louisa?'
'They're pretty certain now it was just dehydration,' Anne said, 'but she's supposed to rest for a few more days.'
Louisa Musgrove (@MsLouisaM): Thanks for all the well-wishes to the wonderful #lindorabble and special thanks to @CaptainFred for being such a darling!
Her eyes flickered over to the place where Frederick usually sat on his camping chair; his replacement was an older guy with a slight limp. I decided not to ask and let my eyes wander some more. You met the most curious types here. With some, you got along instantly, like I had with Anne and Elinor; others took a little more work. When we first met Caro, she'd been trying to convince us she was reporting for Vanity Fair and was above us junior reporters, and it had taken almost half a week and my helping her out with some much-needed feminine products for her to come around and confess she was working for a tabloid rag just as bad as mine. It was nice to hear her apologise, even if we had known all along. It was only the ones at the bottom of the food chain, like us, and pond scum like Thorpe, who had to hang out here every day with nothing but camping chairs and smartphones. The real mugwumps would come down only when something was actually happening, taking over the spaces we'd saved them. The only ones who were worse off were people like our office's intern Kitty, who had been delegated to do night shifts by our editor.
Kitty Benton (@KittyCat): Guys, so exciting!! I think I saw #lordashbourne enter A&E just now! Godfather-to-be? #royalbabywait
Kitty Benton (@KittyCat): Ok who am I kidding? Nothing exciting ever happens here at night & it probably wasn't even him. #lordashbourne
Some people here were just plain crazy. I was pretty certain that William Collins wasn't even a reporter, and still he came back every day. Anne once tried to speak with him and later told us he'd said he was 'personally acquainted with Her Majesty' and was here 'to support their Royal Highnesses.' I saw him in his usual spot, Union Jack wrapped around his shoulders, sipping tea out of his Princess Diana Memorial Thermos, and quickly looked away again.
William Collins (@WilliamCollinsEsq): Very excited! According to @juicylucy, HRH is going to call the baby #Diana as is only fitting! #royalbabywait
That was a mistake. My eyes fell on Shark Guy, as we'd dubbed him. Elinor, who could be counted on to know these things, had informed us he was an up-and-coming top-notch interviewer for some political magazine or other, or at least had been until 3rd July, when he'd shown up here to join the rest of us. At first, I'd been sympathetic. That was until I'd heard him talking on the phone. The first person he'd called was obviously his editor. Shark Guy had been royally angry at him.
'Look, all I'm saying is, if Theresa May isn't coming to watch, I don't see why I should - no, I did not - look, you know - I tell you, this is a bloody disgrace - fine, have it your way!'
Even then, I'd still been sympathetic in spite of his snooty tone because after all, I'd been feeling like telling my editor just the same, but then, Shark Guy had called a friend to whine.
'What I don't see, Charles, is why he thinks he can do this - no, you very well know I did not blow the interview with Iain Lobban, it was an emergency - yes, I know I did not tell him - look, shouldn't my word be enough - yes, well, in either case, he had no reason to stick me here with the tweeting rabble -'
Lizzy Bennet (@LizzyBee): A note to Mr High-and-Mighty: Namedropping is so 1990s.
Why we'd taken to calling him Shark Guy after that, I wasn't sure, but the name had stuck and now, beginning our third week of camping in the streets, we were desperate for anything funny. Apart from the tweets we all dutifully sent out to our readers, there was not much to do other than drinking iced anythings, and poking fun at Shark Guy's always meticulously ironed trousers and his many whiny phonecalls to all and sundry was one of the few enjoyments we had.
Anne Elliot (@ACElliot): @LizzyBee I think a certain someone is checking you out! #lindorabble
Lizzy Bennet (@LizzyBee): @ACElliot Get out!
Caroline Bingley (@CarolineB.): @LizzyBee @ACElliot Definitely is! #lindorabble
Henry Tilney (@whatahenry): @LizzyBee @ACElliot @CarolineB. Definitely! #lindorabble
Lizzy Bennet (@LizzyBee): No. Way.
'What did I miss?'
Fashionably late, as always, Emma Woodhouse sashayed into our midst, accepted the frappucchino Anne handed her (the ice had to have melted by now) and sat down in the camping chair her intern Harriet had saved for her. Emma was the only one of us who had an intern; why exactly, we were not sure. We suspected that she was rather higher up in the food chain than we were, and was here simply for the excitement of it all, but she insisted she was as much of a down-trodden cynic as the rest of us.
'You're on in twenty, Ms Woodhouse,' Harriet muttered.
Emma was also the only one of us who was actually reporting instead of just tweeting and waiting and occasionally writing a five-liner for the web page, but then, Radio Surrey FM was not exactly glamorous either.
Emma Woodhouse (@AskMissWoodhouse): Get this, #lindorabble: #SharkGuy is checking out @LizzyBee!
George Knightley (@GKnightley): You're on in fifteen, @AskMissWoodhouse. I hope we're not interrupting anything important.
Radio Surrey FM (@RadioSurrey): Next on Radio Surrey, our own #MissWoodhouse with a live update from St Mary's Hospital! Stay tuned! #royalbabywait
Shark Guy was definitely not checking me out. If he had been looking my way at all - which I doubted - it had probably been to criticise me and my friends again, whether for our tweeting habit or for the fact that we were actually daring to have fun.
Elinor Dashwood-Ferrars (@EDashwood): This BLT would probably be the highlight of my day if it weren't for the awesome #lindorabble. You guys rock! #royalbabywait
'Bet you five quid that Kate is going to be the first to crack,' Henry said, letting himself fall into the chair Emma had just deserted.
'The Duchess?' I asked incredulously.
'No, her,' Henry said and pointed at a girl a few yards away from us.
I knew her by sight; she was blogging for a German website and this was her first time in London. She was friendly enough but so far had not dared to join our group.
'She is exhibiting all the signs,' Henry said. 'Rings under her eyes, nervous twitch, frantic tweeting - she'll succumb to the paranoia soon. Five quid say it happens today.'
'I'm in,' I said. 'Five that she stays sane until the end of the week, and don't you dare egg her on!'
'Gentleman's honour,' Henry said and got up to talk to Kate. 'Only going to ask her if she wants in on the after-lunch frappucchinos. It's your turn by the way, Bennet.'
I shook my head at him and made a mental note to get one more frappucchino.
Kate Morland (@KateausHamburg): I begin to think that they just lured us here to get us out of the way. #royalbabywait
'Time for coffee,' Elinor said and gave me a meaningful wink.
I sighed and grabbed my bag.
'Give me a call if anything happens,' I said, remembering Bridget Jones.
'Any movements by royal baby or shark, you'll be the first to know,' Caro said.
I groaned and walked away from the camp down the road. Anne was right; this could have been so much worse if it had not been a wonderful, sunny week in summer. I tried to imagine what it would have been like to camp out there in rain or snow and wondered if William Collins would have a Union Jack umbrella.
'You're making your afternoon coffee run,' a voice next to me suddenly said. I turned and saw Shark Guy walking casually by my side as if I'd invited him to come along.
'Yeah, so?' I retorted. I tried to walk faster, but since his legs were longer than mine, it was not much use.
'Nothing,' he said. 'I just thought - I mean - nothing.'
I decided that no answer from me was needed and continued on my walk.
Caroline Bingley (@CarolineB.): Where is #SharkGuy?? Isn't it time for him to complain on his phone that he's still on womb watch? #royalbabywait #lindorabble
In the coffee place Fran, the barrista I'd got to know over the last few weeks, smiled widely when she saw me. I suppose our addiction meant that she made the business of her life, but she was a genuinely friendly person, unlike some other people who had insisted on following me all the way to the cafe.
'Still nothing?' Fran asked. 'How're you all holding up?'
'With the help of a lot of your wonderful caffeine,' I said and grinned.
'How many do you want this afternoon?'
'Let me see,' I said and scrolled to the list on my phone. 'Two with soy milk, one decaf, one decaf with soy, two with extra cream, one with syrup and cream, and a regular for our new girl.'
'Coming up at once,' Fran said. 'Do you want to try the brownies? Ed just brought them over.'
A light flush spread on her face but I ignored it in favour of helping myself to some of the brownies she offered me. Then, while handling her ridiculously complicated automatons, Fran noticed Shark Guy, who stood in the middle of the cafe and seemed unsure what to do.
'Is he one of yours?' she asked in an undertone.
'Definitely not,' I said. 'He's not one of the rabble.'
Shark Guy apparently realised we were talking about him.
'I - uh, I'll have what she has,' he said.
'A large frappucchino with extra syrup and cream?' I asked.
Shark Guy seemed to suppress a grimace.
'That's right,' he said.
Lucy Steele (@juicylucy): It's happening, people! You heard it here first! #royalbabywait
Lucy Steele (@juicylucy): Kate's getting into the limo now. Wills is going to drive. #royalbabywait
Lucy Steele (@juicylucy): Police are closing off the motorway. Escort to arrive here in 15. #royalbabywait
Lucy Steele (@juicylucy): Kate's astrologer is coming to the hospital to do a pre-birth reading. #royalbabywait
'This is not as bad as I thought,' Shark Guy said while we were walking back to the hospital. 'It's quite sweet, of course, but it's rather refreshing on such a hot day.'
'Great for you,' I said, trying to keep the tray with the cups straight. 'I'm so happy you've found my favourite drink tolerable enough to touch your palate.'
'So, eh, do you want to do this again?' Shark Guy asked.
'Eh, go for a coffee with me,' Shark Guy said. 'I mean, next time we could go to a real cafe, maybe sit down and have some cake - or we could go to dinner tonight, I'll pick you up - don't worry about your dress, they'll let you in when you're with me -'
I was too flabbergasted to speak. Dimly, I registered my phone beeping.
'What?' I repeated.
'You're wonderful,' Shark Guy said and it seemed as if he hadn't meant to say that. 'I mean, I think I like you and I've admired you every day we've been here and I find you just utterly adorable -'
'You,' I said, 'you think me and my friends, we're all rabble, not fit to work with a real journalist like you, even though you, in case you hadn't noticed, are stuck here just like the rest of us which doesn't surprise me in the slightest if you displayed that same sort of attitude when doing your precious interviews, and if you think that I will ever go out with you, you are quite mistaken.'
Shark Guy looked just as dumbstruck as I felt.
'I am sorry if you think my behaviour insufficient,' he finally said in clipped tones. 'Quite obviously I should have entered into the unprofessional banter your so-called friends have been engaging in instead of doing actual work -'
'Actual work?' I cried. 'Since when have you been doing any actual work? All you do all day is whine on your phone about how unfair your life is. At least my friends are not too stuck-up to take notice of anyone around them and actually talk to people, which is something that seems to be an utterly foreign concept to you! In case you hadn't noticed, this is the longest conversation the two of us have ever had, and I still don't even know your name!'
Shark Guy opened his mouth as if to say something, but before he could do so, my phone beeped again.
'Hold that,' I said and thrust the tray of cups into Shark Guy's hands.
The text was from Elinor. '999. Something's happening,' it read.
'Something's up,' I said to Shark Guy. There was such a thing as professional courtesy, after all.
I had to give him this, the guy could run fast even with a tray of frappucchino cups in his hands.
'William Darcy,' he panted as we jogged down the street.
We were almost back at the hospital now and I could see that everybody was restless though there was no filming or anything going on yet.
'That's my name,' Shark Guy said.
I was about to tell him how little I could care right now when I caught Emma's eyes.
'False alarm,' she said. 'There were sirens, but it was a car crash outside Paddington Station.'
I let out a deep breath and heard Shark Guy do the same. What was one supposed to do in a situation like this?
'Well, then,' Shark Guy said. 'I better go.'
He handed me back the tray and disappeared amidst the cables and cameras.
'What was that?' Emma asked.
'I have no idea,' I said.
Lizzy Bennet (@LizzyBee): Another glorious day in London and I'm on my way to the hospital to keep watch! Stay tuned! #royalbabywait
Caroline Bingley (@CarolineB.): I'll say thank you, Kate, for having this baby in summer. My tan's getting on marvellously. #royalbabywait
Kate Morland (@KateausHamburg): Going to hang out in front of the hospital with @whatahenry who introduced me to the awesome powers of frappucchino yesterday!
'Whose turn is it today?' I asked when it was getting on eleven and there was still no frappucchino in sight.
'Emma's,' Anne said.
'She's late,' Caroline muttered darkly.
'What was up with you and Shark Guy yesterday?' Henry asked. 'Did I see you coming back together?'
'That was -' I began, but Anne shushed me and gave me a meaningful look.
I turned around. Shark Guy was standing behind me, a tray of cardboard cups in his hands. He looked supremely awkward, but determined.
'Eh, this is a decaf with soy,' he said, pointing at a cup.
'Mine,' Elinor said and took it.
'Extra cream -'
Henry raised his hand.
'Another extra cream -'
Anne took the cup from him.
'Soy milk -'
I was the last one to get my extra cream and syrup and I noticed Shark Guy had kept one cup for himself.
'You remembered the order,' I said. 'I'm impressed.'
Shark Guy shrugged.
'I have a good memory,' he said.
Anne Elliot (@ACElliot): @AskMissWoodhouse you've got to see this! #SharkGuy brought us coffee & is chatting to @LizzyBee now! #lindorabble
Emma Woodhouse (@AskMissWoodhouse): @ACElliot on my way as soon as I've finished some stuff here. #lindorabble
George Knightley (@GKnightley): @AskMissWoodhouse Glad to hear you're taking your job so seriously!
Shark Guy made no attempt to leave us once he'd delivered the coffee. Instead, he began a conversation with Elinor, if only about the weather, and actually laughed at one of the jokes Henry was making to impress Kate, our newbie.
'What're you having, then?' I asked, unable to suppress my curiosity any longer.
Shark Guy shrugged again and looked slightly embarrassed.
'Extra cream and syrup,' he muttered. ''s quite good, actually.'
'Told you so,' I said and got up to stretch my legs.
Lucy Steele (@juicylucy): Kate's feng shui consultant is on the way to the hospital to make the last arrangements for the birth! #royalbabywait
As I walked down the street for a few yards, I noticed Shark Guy was following me again. I turned towards him and raised an eyebrow.
'I'm sorry about yesterday,' he said. 'I - I handled that badly.'
'Yeah, you could say that,' I agreed.
'I'm not going to do it again,' he said.
'I'm sorry if I was a bit harsh,' I said.
'Not harsher than I deserved.'
We strolled along in a silence that was actually pleasant.
'I didn't want to be here,' Shark Guy said.
'Neither did I,' I said, 'but there wasn't much I could do about it.'
'I mean,' he amended, 'I wasn't scheduled for it. I was working on something else entirely - rather a big scoop, truth be told - but something came up, an emergency in the family, and I -'
'You blew off your big interview,' I finished. 'Yeah, I know.'
'You told your pal Charles often enough on the phone,' I said. 'You weren't exactly shy about it.'
'It was my sister,' Shark Guy said. 'She'd - she'd run into some trouble and she needed my help, urgent. I tried to explain that to my editor, but -'
'But he sent you here instead,' I said. 'Why didn't you just quit?'
Shark Guy seemed embarrassed again.
'I can't afford to lose my job right now,' he said. 'I had to pay a complete jerk a hefty sum of money to keep him from spreading disgusting tales about my sister.'
Caroline Bingley (@CarolineB.): What are #SharkGuy and @LizzyBee talking about, strolling down the road like that? #lindorabble
Emma Woodhouse (@AskMissWoodhouse): @CarolineB. That settles it, I'm coming. The feature can wait.
George Knightley (@GKnightley): @AskMissWoodhouse That is what I call job dedication.
Emma Woodhouse (@AskMissWoodhouse): Knickers to you, @GKnightley.
George Knightley (@GKnightley): @AskMissWoodhouse Not while we're both at work, darling.
'What's going to keep him from asking for more?' I asked.
Shark Guy shrugged once more.
'Nothing, I guess,' he said, 'other than the knowledge that I might go to the police if he is too demanding. But I can't know for sure until he tries again.'
He took a deep breath.
'It's a pretty frustrating situation, but I shouldn't have directed my anger at you and your friends,' he said. 'I want to apologise for that.'
'Apology accepted,' I said and made to go back towards the camp. He followed me.
'Hey, Darcy,' I said and turned around once more. 'Wheat or rye?'
He looked at me questioningly.
'You've got to let Elinor know what you want for lunch,' I said. 'We order early.'
F. William Darcy (@thebarracuda): I'm new to the twitter world, but @LizzyBee has promised to teach me well while we wait. #royalbabywaitThe End