Social consciousness

As much as I like to think I’m a modern girl, I do have a fair few old-fashioned values that might not sit well with your average 21st century forward-thinking mid-twenties Londoner.  I wouldn’t consider having children unless I was married, I firmly believe in the importance of good manners, and I feel that certain rules of social etiquette should be adhered to at all times.

Social etiquette – what’s that?  Well, to me at least, it’s the standards by which we should behave in public so as not to unduly offend others.  This might seem a rather alien concept to people who claim to not care about what other people think, but if you spend as much time as I do on the Tube, on buses, in bars, at restaurants, and any number of places where you have to be in close proximity with other members of the general public, the complete lack of social etiquette is fairly gobsmacking.

The London Underground is perhaps where this is most prevalent.  There we all are, poor sods having to commute every day, none of us enjoy it, but we all have to do it.  Quite often there’s a sense of camaraderie about the whole thing: a shared rolling-of-eyes at delays, a collective tutting at the idiot who’s got his leg stuck in the door…  So WHY are there people who completely disregard this and act as if they’re not stuffed into a tin can with hundreds of other humans?  Case in point: The Hair Brusher.  This wasn’t just a quick taming of unruly locks that took about 3 seconds.  Oh no.  This girl was going to town with a Tangle Teezer on her abundantly scruffy thick wet hair.  She was standing up, meaning that those of us sitting down near her got showered with a lovely mix of water and split ends.  And of course after this 5-minute grooming session was over, she picked all the hair from her brush and dropped it on the floor.  Nice.

Then there are the nose-pickers, the fingernail biters, the hot smelly food eaters, and the let-me-adjust-my-belt-and-general-crotch-area-right-in-front-of-your-face-ers.  I’ve seen girls squeezing their spots in a packed carriage at 8am, and a suited and booted man floss his teeth whilst using the window as a mirror.  Ok, if you really don’t give a damn about what other people think of you, then you’re probably not the type to be jealously poring over Facebook and Instagram and wishing you had aspects of other people’s lives, and maybe you’re a happier person overall.  Yay for you.  But for crying out loud why can’t these people see that their habits are truly disgusting and make other people feel quite ill?  I certainly wasn’t the only one giving the Hair Brusher death glares by the end of the battle with her bed head.

I can predict a response to this: ‘it’s a free country, I can do what I like’.  Fine.  In which case, you won’t mind if I gather up all the hair you’ve just shed all over my lap and pop it in your handbag, or attack your fingertips with a bottle of Stop N’ Grow.  After all, it’s a free country.  I can do what I like…

The old adage ‘good manners don’t cost a thing’ has never been more pertinent.  I can’t be the only one whose mother issued edicts such as ‘never eat whilst walking’ and ‘always cover your mouth when yawning’.  Perhaps my attitude towards social etiquette is a little dated, but that doesn’t make it wrong.  Why should advances in technology and social mobility reduce the need for good manners and personal hygiene?  Aren’t politeness and consideration of others two of the things that make us a civilised nation?  I’m well aware that I sound like the Dowager Countess, but I’d much rather that comparison than that of, say, Josie Cunningham or Dappy.  Being aware of your surroundings and those who are in it isn’t old-fashioned: it should be second nature.

manners

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Mind the gap

Ahh, the tube.  That miracle of engineering.  That transporter of industrious souls off to bring home the proverbial bacon.  That inspiration for poetry, art and music.  Sound familiar?  Thought not.

It is a fact of life that if you live and/or work in London, you will have to take the tube at some point.  If you visit London as a tourist, you will feel that you have to take the tube at some point.  And even if you claim to hate the tube and try to avoid it at all costs (cycling, bus, taxi, walking), you will still have to use it at some point.  The tube is omnipresent (except when you want to buy an affordable house with good transport links which is when there suddenly seems to be an unhealthy lack of tube stations in desirable parts of south London), and you only need to look at the state of near-panic we’re all experiencing ahead of the strikes this week to realise how much we’ve come to depend on that noisy, smelly, overcrowded network of underground passages that are essentially glorified cattle carts.

So without further ado, here are My Top Ten Most Hated Things About The London Underground:

1: PDA Couples

We’ve all encountered them, generally when you’ve just been through a break-up.  WHY do they need to kiss so noisily at 7:30am on a Wednesday??

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2: The Antisocial Backpack

Generally takes up at least one person’s standing room, and pokes you uncomfortably hard in the boobs with weird buckles and attachments.

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3: The Lone Salmon

That guy who wants to get on the platform when everyone else wants to get off, or hasn’t sorted out his tube strategy and finds himself at the opposite end of the platform from where he needs to be

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4: The Northern Line

Overcrowded, hot, smelly, never works properly, high chance of bumping into someone you don’t want to, confusing for first-timers with that whole ‘Bank Branch’ thing, and a veritable death trap if you want to get on at Clapham Common or Clapham North – why more people haven’t fallen onto the tracks at rush hour defeats me.

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5:The Pole Hogger

That’s where my hand is meant to go!  Shame on you, Patrick Stewart…

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6: Over-efficient Heating

Clearly the bods at TFL who control the temperature of the tube have never had to travel on the tube at rush hour.  Mmmm hello someone else’s sweaty armpit…

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7: The Mystery Farter

Seriously people, do some squats before you leave the house or something, just get rid of it before you subject a packed carriage to the results of your inner gaseous movements.

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8: The Guy Who Stares

He flouts the no-eye-contact rule, he’s looking at you every time you glance in his direction, and OH MY GOD what is he doing with his hands?!

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9: Shit Earphones

Because of course everyone in the carriage wants to listen to angry metal music as well…

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10: Lad Soc

Drinking cans of Fosters, doing pull-ups on the bars, trying to engage strangers in conversation, tend to be Australian…

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