Monday, June 13, 2005

On walking in London

On Sunday I went for a walk through the woods, parkland and general area around where I live. While out I performed some social experiments. After being in the countryside (I know that in theory Canterbury is a city but come on, it's not a real city, it has no smog and it actually gets dark at night!) for the best part of a year I have got used to actually talking to people. I know I don't talk as much as would be considered polite by countryside standards, but I did this experiment to illustrate why I am thus.

Leaving the house, Sunday 12th June 2005. It was a sunny day (at that point - damn weather) and I felt like leaving the house. It was about 9am when I left (I get up early here - don't know why) and I was wearing my approachable face, not my 'fuck off and leave me alone' face - which is really more appropriate for travel in London. I decided that I would attempt to talk to people today.

09:11 - Middle aged man walking his dog - said good morning, he replied with a smile and a level of courtesy I've only ever seen given to Kristen - I think perhaps he was coming on to me...

09:23 - Pair of old ladies walking what I can only assume were dogs, but only because I don't think people walk guinea pigs on a Sunday morning - Said hello and smiled (in a non creepy way) got a look like I'd just jumped naked out of the bushes screaming - they mumbled something and walked away at a great speed, dragging their strange, snub-nosed rat creatures behind them.

09:43 - Man, early twenties, big backpack - greeted him, he replied with the air of a man accosted by a smelly tramp on the tube and stomped off moodily.

09:57 - Man, late thirties, going bald - Said good morning, received no reply. He just stared at me and kept looking over his shoulder as he walked away.

10:02 - bunch of Kids playing - Parents lurking a short distance away - didn't talk to them because kids smell and I didn't want to look like a pervert. Especially seeing as their dad was staring at me. He wasn't reaching for his shotgun, because this is England, but he would have done if he could.

10:18 - Woman, about thirty, pushing bike up one of the more extreme slopes in the woods - I said good morning she replied, asked me directions etc. It was actually a conversation. She was probably an escaped mental patient, hungry for blood

10:19 - Strange looking old geezer. Was distracted by the previous unexpected social interaction - nothing said.

10:27 - Big scary lookin' bloke with a dog that actually had a human hand in its bloodstained jaws (I may have made that part up) - I didn't say anything to him as I was afraid that making eye contact might constitute "lookin' at me funny" and talking would certainly constitute "Being Lairy" which is a terrible crime, almost as bad as "bein' clever" and punishable by kicking.

10:48 - Small boy, about three, standing in a front garden in Plumstead. - Stood up and asked me what my name was, I said Ben, he grinned and said his name was Chris-toe-fer, and went turned back to the toy car that apparently demanded fierce concentration. Best conversation of the day.

11:02 - Went into a shop to get some food, no reply to my greeting, just the price and thank you - pretty much the exact same manner with which I served people in the shop I used to work in.

At this point I got tired of my attempts at social interaction, put on my fuck off face and started for home.

People are a tiny bit more sociable than I had previously thought but only in that they don't run screaming or hit me as a reply to my attempt at conversation.