“SILVIO!! GET BACK ON THE PAVEMENT!!” Emma bellowed at the top of her voice.
“Che?” Silvio’s raised eyebrows and shrugged shoulders seemed to say.
“Back on the pavement - NOW!”
He shrugged his shoulders and stepped back out of the road just as a black cab zoomed past. Emma turned her strained face to Elisa and they both shook their heads disbelievingly. So far they’d managed to decant a hundred students all over the road down at the Embankment, led the entire straggly group over to Big Ben, attempted a brief potted history of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey before giving up when it became abundantly clear that not a single student was listening, and they were now attempting to lead the group across the road towards Horse Guard’s Parade and St James’s Park.
“Andiamo everyone! ANDIAMO!” Paul was yelling at the students at the back. “Get a move on!”
There was a loud screech of brakes and a booming horn as a bus skidded to a halt, narrowly avoiding mowing down what should have been the back end of an orderly crocodile of students but was instead Maria-Grazia mucking around, playfully punching a couple of the boys who were using all their Italian sense of melodrama to feign serious injury. All this was going on as they were crossing the street, completely oblivious to the actual threat of serious injury bearing down on them with a puce-faced driver behind the wheel issuing a line of expletives that fortunately couldn’t be heard but could quite clearly be lip-read.
“Jesus! These kids have NO ROAD SENSE!!” Paul was now exclaiming to no one in particular.
Finally they arrived at Horse Guards’ Parade in time to see one of the students trying to shove an ice-cream up the left nostril of one of the horses. Neither the horse nor the soldier sitting on it seemed to show the slightest reaction. Emma rolled her eyes and then smiled as the horse snorted, splattering ice-cream all over Ettore’s pristine trainers. The rest of the group fell about laughing, taking pictures and seeing if they could get the horse to do it again by tickling its nose.
“Come on boys, he’s not going to sneeze again - leave him alone - we’re going this way.”
The boys dragged themselves away and followed her out into the parade ground, over towards St James’s Park where they sprinted off, sending some ducks, who were poddling across the path towards the lake, quacking into the air.
“Any idea where we’re going?” Paul was asking beside her.
“Well, according to this,” Emma waved the map of the walking tour they’d been given amongst the instruction pack before leaving the uni campus this morning, “we’re supposed to lead them out and over to Buckingham Palace which means...”
“...they shouldn’t be going that way,” Elisa had joined them and finished her sentence, pointing at the disappearing figures who had taken a forked left rather than right and were now heading off at speed in the wrong direction like an over-excited pack of sugar-high toddlers.
“Urgh, I’ll get them - you two round up the others.”
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