Those within a five metre radius were acutely aware of What’s The Time Guy and his invasion into their body space. One could not ignore his blank, hard-boiled egg eyes, doughy face and hairless, melon-shaped head, the deliberate way he dragged his slovenly frame up and down Haverstock Hill on slow motion auto-pilot; a bizarre cameo appearance in the lives of those who were raised to look away.
The more savvy pedestrians would assess their escape route and instigate a subtle about turn or impromptu road-cross (often risking mild traffic and the enraged screech of 4x4 horns) or dive into the doorways of packed ethnic restaurants and ‘We saw you coming’ retail outlets to avoid uncomfortable interaction with the discombobulated mind of the man known by some of the local hip kids as ‘The WTTG’ (What’s The Time Guy) due to his habit of asking passing pedestrians the time despite the existence of an ostentatious dayglo watch strapped tightly on the chub of his bulbous left wrist.
His greatest thrill came by standing directly in front of his prey and allowing his blank gaze to wash over them in tranquil lunacy. Before his victim (often a single teenage girl texting or young mother encumbered by pram and limited in movement) could react he would ask ‘Could you tell me the time, please?’ Many recoiled or froze expecting the WTTG’s large, clammy hands to find a resting place around their neck or on their breasts; others toppled backwards with their cappuccinos into the eye of a brown frothy explosion or simply bounced off his blubbery frame as he refused (or was mentally unable) to give ground.
However dangerous the WTTG might be to the women of Haverstock Hill, his existence was derived by an undiluteable sadness; whatever it was that rested inside him and tortured his soul from within would never be tamed in this world by either touch or kindness until his timely oblivion. In his way, he knew and that was why he kept asking his question in perpetuity as, even faced with the truth, he had to make sure.