A few months ago myself and my partner moved from Kent into East London to be closer to work. The plan was to cut down on our commuting time and take that time back for other things. I thought I would spend more time doing arty things, but actually I seem to spend that time having elaborate conversations with the two cats we adopted almost as soon as we got here.
Moving areas means that we have tried out a range of new tube, train and bus routes. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently watching people, and watching the scenery from the top deck of the bus. Londoners have this reputation for coldness on public transport. Never make eye contact, don’t chat. Try to get a seat alone and absolutely don’t surrender it. I think this often reflects my experience of travelling around London in general. However I’ve been taking the bus in East London quite a bit recently and I have notice quite a different pattern. I have noticed many moments of generosity on the bus amongst people who appear to take the same route everyday and who know each other to look at. The father taking his kid to school who sees another parent and offers to chaperone her child too. The young man getting up from his seat for an elderly lady. The people who move about so a young family can sit together.
I think Londoners have a bit of a reputation for coldness, and East London has a bit of a reputation for worse. But if you look for it there is a lot of good stuff happening here too, like those little moments of kindness on the bus to work or school.