London Life

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It’s been a painfully long time since I updated my blog. And so much has gone on! We’re eight days into 2012 already. This time last year, if you’d told me I would be living and working in London, there’s a good chance I would have laughed in your face.

But there are the facts. I’ve been here since August, and though I love living in the big city, there’s been a lot to get used to. And it’s really quite different to living in Darlington.

The thing that strikes me as most bizarre about living in London, is the pace of life here. Other cities don’t seem to move quite as fast. Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds, all cities I have spent a fair amount of time in, are busier than the quiet country life that I’m used to, but they move at a totally different pace to the capital. They’ve got the buzz, and the rhythm of London, but no-one seems to move quite as fast.

Take the tube for example. I think most people who aren’t from London find the tube one of the most defining features of the city. It’s like another world – an underground tunnel where manners, good moods and a helpful personality generally go out of the window.

During the morning rush hour, you see people running down the escalators as they realise the people heading in the other direction just got off a train they might be able to take to wherever it is they’re going. They rush down the stairs, tutting at people who get in their way as they go about their business, run across the platform and throw themselves towards the closing doors. There are, obviously, only two outcomes. They make it, or they don’t.

If they make it, there’s a moment of pride – they’ve stuck it to the man, ignoring the cry to “stand clear of the doors,” and they’ll get to where they’re going SO MUCH quicker, having boarded the train.

If they miss it, they’re usually pretty annoyed about it. After all, waiting a whole minute for that next train is going to have a massive impact on their day.

Then there’s offering to help people on the tube. Always a risky business. So often I’ve seen someone struggling with their shopping, or with a suitcase, or a buggy. And lots of times when I’ve offered my help, I’ve been looked at like I’m wielding a knife, or I’m going to run off with the small child or belonging I’m offering to help with.

But it’s not all bad in the underground world of the multi-coloured tube lines. Sometimes you see a little glimmer of humanity as tired commuters head home after a busy day at work. They’ve bagged one of the hotly contested seats for their 30 minute tube journey home, and a pregnant woman gets on, looking more tired than every commuter in the carriage put together. And all at once, five people make noises, or movements to offer their seat. All of those people thinking more about this woman than their weary selves.

I offered a very pregnant lady my seat the other week, and she looked at me, like she was going to cry, hug me, or both. She was clearly very hormonal, but she was so grateful to me for giving up my comfy for her comfy. It made me feel like I’d had a hugely positive impact on her day. And that can only be a good thing.

People say to me they couldn’t live in London, and more often than not, the tube is their main reason for it. But there are these small moments of kindness every single day. For me, living in London is about remembering the small moments of kindness that you see on a day to day basis, and making your own. After all, if everyone made an effort to be a little more friendly, or helpful, or considerate, it would make a difference everyone would notice.

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