Look, we’ve all done it. Inadvertantly ticked somebody off because of a moment’s inattention or because we didn’t know or forgot how to behave. On Friday I was dribbling home on my bike thinking far too much about how nice it was not to be absolutely freezing, and not enough about little things like signalling my turn (hey, I was turning into my street, of course I was going to turn, everybody should know that, right?) and caused a moment’s inconvenience to another cyclist (the only other person about). I apologised, he said something rude, I muttered something worse and there it was: that Friday feeling, leaning up against the wall, gone.
It’s a nasty, rotten, dirty, grey, pigeon infested world out there in London, even in spring. And that’s why we Londoners have rules for living by – to make our own lives that little bit less rubbish, and to avoid spreading the pain further than we can help it. But sometimes it seems like people have forgotten. So here, as a public service, is a reminder of the Urban Rules for Living.
1. The ‘don’t speak to strangers’ rule doesn’t include the words ‘Excuse me’, ‘Thanks’, and ‘Sorry’
2. It also doesn’t apply when walking around with a Sunday paper*. I don’t know why this should be but it is.
3. If somebody breaks a rule and then apologises spontaneously for it, try and be a bit ungrudging in accepting. You can always sue them later.
4. Nobody wants to hear your music
5. Or your opinions
6. Or your half of a phone conversation
7. There are two sides to every person – a front and a back. If you don’t know what’s going on behind yours, take a look. Someone could be trying to get past. Or steal your wallet. Either way, it’s worth the odd glance. Just a thought.
8. Your bag is in the way. It just is. If you can’t move it, at least look apologetic about it.
9. You’re not in so much of a hurry that it’s worth knocking someone out of the way to get to your destination. You think you are, but you’re not. And if you do send a little old lady sprawling on the ground you’re going to have to stop and pick her up and dust her down anyway, and that will make you even later.
10. If you’re having a bad transport day, the chances are that the poor transport employee on the platform is having an even worse one. Here’s a little tip: if they’re in uniform and accessible to your wrath, the chances are it’s not their fault. The people whose fault it is are sitting in suits in a nice office on the ninth floor. Don’t make somebody’s crappy job even crappier by taking it out on them.
That’s it. Now remember that tomorrow everyone will have got out of bed an hour earlier than they’re used to and grumpy won’t even begin to describe it. So it’s more important than ever that you stick to this don’t get cross code, keep your cool and get home again unscathed.
*as long as it’s Sunday. If you’re one of those people who reads bits of the Sunday papers all week on the train, then nobody’s going to talk to you ever. You’re wierd. Sorry