Running on the left;
Running on the left;
Save 2 minutes extra then we won’t feel bereft.
Standing on the right;
Standing on the right;
Sometimes slow and steady is all you need at night.
Running on the left;
Running on the left;
Makes us feel important look at our speed and deft.
Standing on the right;
Standing on the right;
Taking time to savour the joy of morning light.
I am a big fan of charity. I used to chair a board of Trustees and have done several posts about charity jewellery on my ‘proper’ blog…but….there is one thing I really detest about charities.
For those of you who aren’t familiar these are the cold defying people who stand on the street encouraging us to sign up our direct debit details to support whatever worthy charity is paying them to be there. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything other than leading and worthy charities stood up there vying for our cash. It’s not that I dislike what they stand for, or how they’re going about it. Ok, so I would never stand in the street and chat with them, but I realise that in the difficult financial situation that charities currently find themselves in it is important to try and capture all areas of the market to raise awareness, and they clearly have success with this method.
Indeed several of my friends have had employment in this field and I even contemplated it myself at one time.
My issue is this.
Why must they congregate in groups?
I am quite happy to smile and say no thank you to one chugger on the 5 minute walk to the tube. I am less happy to do the same with three of four during the same distance. I appreciate that sometimes one person may be taken up with a potential funder, but I must admit I’ve never seen more than one occupied at a time, and I kid you not nearly every day in my walk to lunch or the tube, whichever side of the road I walk on, I pass a group of them, and they’re almost always all available.
What frustrates me even more is that some days I will walk past a group huddled together or basically just stood around chatting.
I don’t understand why they are so close together. Is it for moral support? Safety? So they can monitor each other?
I think that’s what I so resent about this group of fundraisers, turning one down nicely is one thing, but I admit by the time I have passed a few of them I have rather lost patience…
Ok so you may have seen my earlier post which was a slightly tongue in cheek look at being a Londoner, so in contrast I thought I would share with you some things I really love about London, because I do love it, I really do…I’m not moving and you can’t make me.
- The weather – seriously, London has better weather than anywhere else in the UK* FACT. It’s always* warm and doesn’t seem to bear the brunt of some of the worst rains and storms even when they pass close.
- Public Transport – yes it may be expensive, smelly and hot, but on the whole it’s reliable and runs at reasonably good times. At my mum’s if you don’t drive you don’t go out…seriously, there’s actually a bus route that only runs one way into town…
- The people – it’s always said that Londoners are so unfriendly, but I don’t think it’s true. I’ve always known my neighbours really well, after all they see you in your PJ’s, you often live on top of each other and we’ve rarely had any issues** But it’s not just neighbours, during the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings there was a real comradeship amongst strangers, directing people how to walk to places they have only seen from underground before, offering lifts, sharing support.
- The shopping – Forget your Bond Street or Kings Road (well don’t forget exactly…) we have our very own high street in one borough of London, if I want something a bit posher I walk to the posher high street. Not just chain stores, but the boutiques, little nooks and cranny’s and more recently farmers markets which are popping up all over.
- The art – you might find it hard to believe but there’s some amazing street art in London, you can do your very own tour around. Sadly my local Banksy has recently disappeared, but the splurge of art that has replaced it is really interesting.
- The parks – I don’t care where you live your parks cannot beat ours. In addition to the big ones (I love St James’ and have spent many happy lunches in there…back in the day when I used to not desk eat) I can walk to 5 lovely parks within a short walk, it’s pretty darn amazing.
- The pay – yes ok so everything costs more, but I get a little uplift for working in London and it makes me feel special…
- The centre of attention – strange as it sounds I get a little bit excited when something close to me happens on the news. If it’s local news then only if it’s proper close, but anything London on the national news has me talking about it like an expert using my “local” knowledge.
- The variety – who needs to eat in the same place week after week or drink at the same watering hole? Not me*** when there’s such a wide choice around not only my local area, but the next area too; and the next; and the next (get the picture?!)
- The opportunity for culture – ok so a confession is that I am not really a culture vulture, but a broad
narrowpoll of friends a friendput this at the top of the list. The museums, the theatre, to be fair even if I don’t use them I do like the idea of being able to get to them at a moment’s notice (plus have done impromptu breastfeeding & nappy changing in many a random museum or gallery…)
*based on no scientific facts ever…FACT
**apart from the neighbour that stole our bike computer thing, and that time we had to save our neighbour from her abusive husband and then me be stuck inside calling the police when he tried to break in…and the Turk sat outside in the snow round the corner…oh or the morning of my birthday one year when we got woken up by a drunken man continually pressing our buzzer to get into our drunk neighbour’s flat….and that noise complaint we had about loud music.
***this is mainly because I have a child and no childcare, but that’s not helpful to the point I’m trying to make
I love London, I’ve lived here since I went to university and now I am a grown up lawyer with a job and a reason to commute, it’s very exciting. I thought I would share with you the benefit of my 15 years as a Londoner just so you can make sure you understand the rules, whether you live here or just visit:
1. Don’t dawdle, dither or hesitate – this applies particularly if you are stood at the top of an escalator; getting into a lift or entering the platform of a tube station. If you stop I will walk into you. I won’t apologise because it was your fault (just so you know).
2. Everyone is important – if you are in London, particularly if you live there, you clearly have important business to attend to. It is important, if you find yourself in London without important business to attend to, that you behave in a manner which indicates that in fact you do have important business to attend to. We are in London, we are not here to enjoy ourselves, we are busy, act like it.
3. Hand accessories are essential – please don’t allow yourself to be seen empty handed, it isn’t a good look. If you really can’t bring yourself to be engrossed in a paper, your phone/tablet/kindle or a book then please buy a coffee. It is essential that your hands are occupied at all times (please don’t slow down your pace – you are in London, you should be able to multitask). If you do resort to coffee kindly make sure that the brand adequately reflects your personality – if we see you with Starbucks in hand we will understand that you are a ruthless tax avoidance approving business shark, if you have a cup with an advert for ethically sourced organic beans we know you are likely to stop for Chuggers and can use early avoidance strategies for the moment that you start to hesitate towards them for a chat.
4. If you need a taxi please only use black cabs. These should be flagged down in as dramatic a fashion as you can muster. If you don’t flag with a flourish then the cab driver will know you are not a true Londoner and probably won’t stop. Please ensure that you remortgage your property in good time to pay for the aforementioned cab rides.
5. People standing on the street should be avoided at all costs – Chuggers, people handing out samples/religious literature/free papers or big issue sellers. It really doesn’t matter, you are busy, you are a Londoner, please avoid eye contact and take early evasive action.
6. Your food should be branded – please don’t bring along food from the supermarket, you won’t be allowed to mix with real Londoners. All lunchtime food should be extortionate and from a reputable and accepted luncheon supplier. Don’t bring lunch to your desk, you saved sufficient time from avoiding Chuggers and Big Issue sellers to ensure that you can take an adequate lunch break.
7. Pay no attention to other road users – this applies whatever your method of travel. Cyclists and pedestrians should pay no heed to traffic lights, they aren’t for you, cross whenever you see fit. Pedestrians should particularly aim for the ‘halfway run’ [the process by which a pedestrian runs into the middle of the road to demonstrate that they do understand the rules of the road – but then walks the remainder of the distance to the pavement to indicate that they don’t care]
8. Children don’t belong in London – London is for grown ups and should remain that way. If you do fall pregnant please do not expect other Londoners to treat you any differently, the stairs at tube stations are there for a reason – to make it more difficult for preggies to carry wheely bags onto trains. Similarly they serve to dissuade buggies from entering the public transport system. If you feel you must
waddle walk slower than normal please don’t leave the house.
9. Work friends are not real friends – whilst it may be fun to laugh and joke with your colleagues, please don’t try and take this further by discussing meeting up at the weekend and please remove all former colleagues from your Facebook page when you leave a job, you will need the space for your new work friends.
10. Customer service is generally unnecessary – for those of you who work in the service industry please remember that in London we don’t value customer service. Please reflect this in your approach and ensure that you delay serving Londoners for as long as possible – if you are able to arrange it so that you are engaging in a conversation with a co-worker instead of serving us in a timely manner that would be appreciated. Don’t worry we will still leave a tip on top of the added service charge, we are Londoners, that’s just what we do.
- Awkward pole dancing – you know when you put your hand on the pole but you’re a bit unsteady and move it and end up on someone else’s hand, or you take your hand off to turn a page and put it back but now there’s someone else’s hand there…or when the tube stops and you all have to move to let people off the tube but no one will let go of the pole so you all do a shuffle…there you go “awkward pole dance”.
- Loud talking – no. There are no phones on the tube, it’s lovely, now stop talking loudly to each other. I don’t want to hear your conversation, I want to sing in my head without disturbance, it’s the only chance I get to do it.
- Backpacks / Rucksacks – if you need to carry so much stuff around (I get it – I’ve done it) then for goodness sake watch where you’re putting your flipping bag! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been boffed in the face. I know I am rucksack height but that doesn’t mean I’m invisible!
- Small wheely bags – as a regular wheely bag user I like to think I am observant and aware of my surroundings, such that I don’t leave my bag in stupid places or wheel it so far behind me that it leave a trail of tripped up commuters scattered in my wake…sadly I appear to be the only wheely bag user with this attitude.
- Eating – stop it. Don’t you have homes to go to? Why is it always a McDonalds…
- Spitting – yes really, it happens. The perpetrators seem to think that following this disgusting action by trying to grind the spit into the floor of the tube carriage makes it ok…it does not.
- Oystercards – for non-Londoners these are the electronic “touch in” tickets currently used on the underground. Aside from the numerous overchargings I have had to endure, the £8 telephone bill when I tried to change my travelcard, the incorrect advice about trying to extend my travelcard after moving to a different zone, my current bugbear with the Oyster system is that I have to take proof of my address if I want to return my card and get my deposit back. This might not seem like a big deal, but having
my Oystercardmisplaced by the boya short time ago I purchased a new card and topped it up with credit. Upon returning home I promptly found my original Oyster and returned to the station to refund my money. Naturally I just popped along with my Oystercard, receipt and credit card I bought it from…it wasn’t enough, I need to prove my address…even though the card is not in any way linked to my address… This really isn’t a big deal for me, I live in London, but I do wonder about what message we are sending to tourists who will be smart enough to know that the only way to travel in London without taking out a mortgage is by Oyster, but they won’t automatically have proof of their address, after all Passports don’t contain this. I feel it’s just a way of boosting funds for TFL when travel is already a rip off.
- Escalators – I think this applies to outside the underground system, but really why do people stand at the top and/or bottom of the escalator blocking the whole thing? Don’t get me started on people who disobey the signs and stand on the left…In all seriousness though my real issue is the lack of accessibility on the whole system. I have only once taken my son on the tube because I can’t carry him down the two flights of stairs to even get into our local station. Even if someone helps me down I am stuck with an escalator (which I hate with a buggy) to get down. The majority of stations I want to go to have steps on the way out so my only real option is to go to Green Park…that’s fine, but I don’t really want to go there… I really noticed it when I was pregnant, I have to travel a lot for work and this involves carting big cases of papers around, trying to lug these up and down stairs at the best of times is difficult but frequently reduced me to tears for several months.
- Seat etiquette – I’ve fallen foul of sitting in the priority seats and neglecting to offer my seat to a pregnant lady, elderly person or just someone who genuinely needed it more than me. It happens, we all have daydreaming days and when I realise I always jump up, even if I’m down the middle of the carriage. I’m definitely more alert now than I used to be, and even when I was pregnant I’ve played musical chairs with other preggies as at different stages we have been the only ones to get up and offer a seat to another. Having been in need of a seat myself and not been offered, or worse being offered a seat but by the time I waddle over to it another commuter has swooped in and taken it (much to the horror of me, the offerer and several surrounding passengers) I think my senses may be a bit heightened to this. I have always been firmly of the belief that if you need a seat you can ask for it, that’s what the priority seats are and you need to take some initiative rather than expecting someone to stand up. However, whilst pregnant I twice asked for a seat on the tube and was refused, I am generally happy to stand, even when pregnant, but I asked because I really needed to sit. I was so upset by this that I stopped asking, it wasn’t worth the stress. A friend who was pregnant at the same time fainted 4 journeys to work in a row before her fellow regular travellers started taking her corner and helping her get a seat in the mornings. Anyway the point of this rant arose when I saw a commuter sat in the priority seat working on her laptop in the morning. This happens a lot, but the rule is: if you get a priority seat it isn’t really yours – you need to be prepared to offer it at every station. Working on your way to work (whilst completely unnecessary – get up earlier and do it) whilst sat in these seats indicates you are not willing to offer it to another in need. It’s not acceptable and you have breached the terms of the seat.
- Papers – there are 2 free papers on my journey to work; the Metro in a morning and the Evening Standard on the way home. Whilst I don’t object to either of these per se (and the certainly have improved on the days of two free evening papers competing…although I was fond of the London Lite) and I regularly seek out the latest news stories
pet of the dayfor my journey to work. What I don’t like are:
- the yucky black muck which gets all over my hands…and without fail I then wipe it on my face;
- what’s worse is that other people have the stuff on their hands too and they wipe it over the poles and handrails #germs;
- the crowds of bystanders outside the station picking up their freebies;
- I used to complain about the sheer number of people stood outside the station handing out the free papers…the papers are gone but the people are still there…now they’re handing out magazines and leaflets…grr get out of my way!!!
- why do I need a paper handing to me – I can pick it up myself…
- why (and this in fairness applies to books and Kindles too) oh why do people find the need to shove their papers in my face? or worse – rest them on my head?! I manage to read without doing this…admittedly I’m only 5ft so would struggle to lean on someone’s head…but it’s just rude…RUDE!
Well, as this is my first ever blog post, by way of introduction I should tell you a little about myself, I’m in my early 30s, I live in North London with my husband (the Turk) and work as a lawyer. We got married around 2 and a half years ago, and after my husband lost his job, we decided to sell our flat in a nice part of London and buy a large dilapidated house in a, well…less nice part of London…as an investment…and in the meantime the Turk would do it up whilst we lived in it.
Anyway, mother nature had other plans and shortly after moving I fell pregnant, I now have a
nightmare delightful 10 month old son…who doesn’t help with the renovation or sit still…ever.
Life as a mum can be hard, tiring and (although many don’t admit it) boring, but there’s also a lot of fun and drama, particularly when you try and combine it with a major building project. During my maternity leave I have spent lots of time reading blogs and articles written by other mums so I thought I’d take some time to tell you a few of our tales. Starting now, heading back a bit and going forward. Anyway I love to hear a good baby/child story so do send me any hilarities in your own life, I’d love to hear from you!