One of the things that’s often claimed as a negative about London is that its inhabitants are unfriendly. As a Londoner, I’d like to say that this is a load of old bollocks. We’re not unfriendly, we’re just busy and very focused.
The reason we don’t stop to exchange random pleasantries with strangers (and tourists, *shudder*) is because we’re on a mission… whether it be getting to work or school, getting home, getting drunk, getting the shopping done or getting to the next glamorous event, there simply isn’t time to stop unless it’s mission critical.
We don’t talk on the tube because, despite the fact that we’re nose to pit (or crotch) with a slew of other commuters, the journey to and from work is a respite from all the activity around us. It’s our alone time in our cocoons where we psych ourselves up for another crazy day at the office or dial ourselves down ready to connect with the people waiting for us at home. We have so little time that we save ourselves for the friends, family and lovers that make our lives worth living.
Does that make us unfriendly? I don’t think it does. Some of the best friends I’ve made in London come from chance encounters on nights out, in queues… from house shares formed by necessity. I think if you find the city unfriendly, it’s because you’re just not playing by the rules. Obstruct a Londoner’s mission, whatever it is, and you’ll be at worst removed from their path and at best ignored… but join or aid the mission and you’ll find a world of opportunity under the city’s skin.
I love the fact that I live in a city where I can be totally anonymous. Where I can be surrounded by people but choose to be invisible… at peace in my own little world. I like that fact that no one asks me how I am or where I’m going, cos it’s none of their damned business. Maybe one day if that feeling every wears off I’ll escape to the country but for now can you get out of my fucking way please, I’m late.