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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

I do, very often these days, sigh aloud and say to anyone who is standing near to me, that I am becoming rather tired of living in London. It's very stinky, I tell my avid listeners. It's quite loud, and there are a lot of people who are quite rude most of the time. Quite often, I'll continue to observe as my audience continues to hang on my every word, there are stabbings and shootings and people who stand on other people's feet on purpose, and it's just not like the old days, when men would hold the doors open for ladies and go out and kill dinosaurs to eat.

And then little things happen that make me remember immediately why, really, I do love this city. And those things are the things that happen in the middle of all of those other things mentioned above, the stuff that stands out despite of (because of) the pollution and rudeness and hectic pace and the self-serving nature of the London population.

For example, last week I was standing on the tube on my way to work. Getting on to the Central Line, I had been shoved forward from behind by a man who was about as tall as a 10 year old girl. Stocky build, looking exactly like a fully grown man, only much, much smaller and with a lot to prove. He shoved me forward because I had had the audacity to board the train on time rather than legging it at the last moment and hurling myself through the closing doors like some lame Hollywood stunt man. I really don't understand why people feel the need to do this - in the rush hour during the morning, the trains on the Central Line arrive every 30 seconds or so. That means that, by risking serious injury and holding up the entire service, this ridiculously tiny man had saved himself a 30 second wait.

I was therefore at my usual peak of being very, very irritated by London that morning, feeling all put out and grumpy. To compound this, I had a bit of a sneezing fit halfway between Bank and St Pauls.

The man standing beside me, a man of normal height and looking fairly healthily sane (although I would question his intelligence, as he was reading The Times) lowered his newspaper briefly, looked me directly in the eye, and quietly said "Bless you". He then went back to his paper.

In almost every other situation in any other place in the entire world, that tiny act of kindness, that little, inessential moment of human decency, would have gone unremarked and almost unnoticed. In London, in the middle of pushy-shovey-every-man-for-himself rush hour, that nearly made me cry.

Equally, seeing this sight this weekend brought tears of joy to my eyes:

The sight of a swan standing on a sunken branch in the middle of a man made lake in the centre of a park in North London, cleaning his feathers alongside four terrapins who are warming themselves in the spring time sun, for some reason reinstates my belief that there is actually a point to life.

What that point is, I'm not entirely sure.


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