Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mind the Gap

I have been asked why I haven't been posting on the blog.  Well there is not a lot of building going on at the moment. We are still in the UK.  This is how I came to be on the 8 o’clock commuter train from Richmond to Waterloo. 

It is not a mode of travel I have often taken and a number of things struck me.  As the doors opened I was sucked onto the train with the crowd with barely the need to use my feet.  I had to stop myself from greeting the hoards with a ‘Bonjour, tout le monde’. 

With standing room only for the plebs I had my nose pressed up against the glass door to the first class carriage looking in at the privileged few and feeling a certain amount of seat envy.  While the hoi polloi stood and jostled for a little personal space the lucky buggers behind the glass not only had the luxury of one comfy seat but also a spare one next to them allowing them to spread one bum cheek on each seat if the fancy took them.  

These people probably travel on the same train day in day out, surrounded by the same faces but there was no interaction.  Each one was ensconced in their own little bubble world of techno gadgets.  Wires were hanging out of ear-holes,  thumbs were texting with dizzying speed in danger of being disjointed, kindles were being flicked, laptops were being tapped and one first classer was watching Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear whilst texting on his gismo – show off!  More amazingly some were playing with their Pou!  No, not pooh - Pou! These people are adopting Pous. A Pou is a virtual I don't quite know what who live in fear of being neglected, starved or deprived of sleep and if you don't feed, clothe, tickle and take care of them they die!  Oh, don't ask!  It's enough of a worry for me to decide what to cook for the two of us each evening without having to remember to feed, clothe and put to bed some virtual alien pet. 

The Pous have been dressed in their Sunday best

Say please!

The technophobe that I am prayed the LGB wouldn't phone me because that would have meant getting out my little Nokia pay-as-you-go and I could not face the elbow nudging and giggles that would ensue from the state of the arters with their super-duper all singing all dancing gadgets. But I am sticking with my little relic, my little dinosaur of the mobile world because I know how to send a text on it and it is very useful to call the LGB and b*ll*ck him when I lose him in the supermarket.  (He is the only man I know who loves shopping and can spend twenty minutes in the biscuit aisle.) Besides I really shouldn't be let lose with anything of any more technical than a tin opener these days because my 'blonde moments' are getting more frequent, as the LGB likes to point out. I put the kettle on the hob for a cuppa last week - electric kettles do not like gas hobs, they simply melt!

I googled 'old fashioned mobile phones' and an image of mine actually came up.
This one is the newer version!

Another thing that struck me was that I stuck out/stood out like a sore thumb or an overgrown Little Red Riding Hood in my red coat.  I seemed to have broken the commuter dress code that stipulates mornings must be monochrome. ‘You vill not vear colour, you vill not speak to your neighbour, you vill not make eye contact’.

I was meeting a friend later in the day so with time to kill I trotted off to the Tate Modern for a mooch.  I think a visit to any art exhibition would beg the question ‘But is it art?’ I am more of a grand master gal myself.  Dali’s plastic Lobster Telephone just doesn't float my boat (or ring my bell), having said that I love street art and graffiti but I will save that for another post too, together with my visit to The Light Show at the Southbank Centre.

Shivering on a platform waiting for another train, the lady next to me commented on the weather.  As we chatted and established that she was Austrian living in London and I was English living in France she commented that ‘Nobody is at home’!  How true!  We parted company smiling.  My opinion of the miserable commuters was changing. Later I asked a lad for the direction to the nearest tube station.  He was carrying his lunch but turned around and walked me back some way to an information board to show me where to go before retracing his steps.  I have visited London a few times since I have been back and have been pleasantly surprised by how friendly and helpful people have been.  I wasn't too impressed however to be offered a seat on the tube by a young lady.  I'm not sure if she thought I was old or pregnant!  Just a spot of wind love!

There is an amazing employee at Mortlake station called Daniel who greeted us on two occasions with a huge grin, joked and told us the best deal for travelling.  We watched him greet the other commuters by name and they greeted him likewise.  The punk ticket inspector at another station happily posed for photos for us and a flower seller gave us directions with good cheer when I thought she may have been sick to the back teeth of tourists asking the way.  I was heartened by the responses I got from them and others including policemen and a road sweeper.

What a legend.  You just have to smile!
My photo
So, for anyone who says The Smoke is an unfriendly inhospitable place I would have to disagree.  Perhaps my attitude has changed since living in France.  In France it is the norm to walk into a room and greet everyone.  People say ‘bonjour’ just joining the queue in the local shop, walking into the doctor’s surgery or into a bar.  Strangers wish you ‘bon apetit’ in restaurants and even when they walk past when you are munching a sandwich on a park bench.  I like these little niceties.  I do pass little comments and interact with strangers more, whether that comes with age or living in France I am not sure.  But will someone tell the LGB I still don’t do noise and heavy conversation first thing in the morning!  Sometimes silence is golden!


  1. Thanks for the good giggle over my morning coffee!! We have so many things in common- starting with the red coat! Then there are the blond moments too.... I can't help noticing, like you, thet people communicate through a technological filter more and more as time goes on. THe smaller the space we people are in, the more we seek to ignore eachother. All very strange. I fight against whispering in waiting rooms, my kids tell me off and roll their eyes in embarassment when I tell them that I won't shut up because nobody has died.


Thanks for your comments. Nice to know there is someone out there!