It's a little know fact that in London there is actually only 45 seconds per minute, this basically means that in London we have to get done in 45 minutes what in other parts of the country would be done in an hour. This results in what I have come to call the London Pace. This is most obvious to tourists and all non-londonised people, it occurs mostly in highly populated areas where they will struggle to keep up. You see, in London travelling, talking and tempers are faster. As a result of this we often see tiny Japanese tourist being swept along by the sea of very busy people, all you can make out is a yellow, plastic covered arm bobbing along and a piping voice struggling to be heard "British Museum?!" Or if they have come over in a pack there will be a group of yellow covered, waterproof tourists gabbling away with upside maps, and the angry Londoners will be swarming round them casting dirty looks in anger at the precious second they have lost having to go around the group. Surely they should apply some common sense? If you were in a Spanish street and you know the bulls were coming you wouldn't stand in the middle clucking away, trying to figure out where you were going. If you did you would probably get run over! Why they don't apply the same logic here? They stop in the middle of the pavement, blocking the whole thing, forcing those of us who know where we are going to go round them!
We are a city of Tesco Express, and self service tills. Even the till operators will huff at you if you take too long to pay; Time is Money lady, they are silently thinking at you, get a move on I have a queue round the shop! We do it as well, when you are next in line and you see that old dear counting out the right change, or that woman who has the ridiculously small purse so they can only get out one coin at a time, and we rage. I will stand there, even if I have loads of time, thinking for f**ks sake! We have a Prêt on every corner because we don't want to walk that extra 100m!
We are a city of Now. Your hungry, your want a sandwich now. Not in ten minutes because the shop is all the way down the road, oh no the shop is there, you go in you get your sandwich, you pay quickly and efficiently and then your out. No browsing, no lets see, what shall I have. In, Out, Done. Your Boss wants a spreadsheet populated with data, when does he want it? Now. Not time for, oh I'll just make a coffee first, no way! Now. This email need to go out Today. Theses invoices have to be approved by this afternoon. That purchase order needs verifying in an hour. This decision needs to be made now. Now, Now, Now, Now, Now, Now!! As a result when you allow yourself ten minutes to get from A to B and a lost American Family hinder that by walking out in front of you, then stopping, we snap.
Firstly, I nearly tripped over your poorly disciplined son as he ran away from you. Secondly you and your wife do not need to spin around looking for street names nearly knocking people flying with your map holding elbows. And finally on what planet did you decide that walking backwards on a busy London Street was a good idea! So we do what any British person would do, we tut, roll our eyes and sneer at the offending person.
The funny part is us commuters are stuck between worlds, and only another commuter will understand. We work in London, so we work to the London Pace, but we don't live there. So when we come home we try to continue our London Pace. We'll be there speeding along the road, silently cursing the slow cars who get in our way, we dodge and weave through crowd when we walk places and for what? We get there bang on time or worse, early and have to wait. People look at us as if to say what's the hurry? I was talking to someone last night, and I presented an idea to them. ‘Ok great, we'll discuss it later, we have plenty of time.’ Noooooo! I wanted to scream! Why can't you make the decision now, then I could action my plan and mentally tick it off. I want to stamp a big ol' DONE across it in my mental To Do list. In suburb-land you can ask people question and it can take up to 5 minutes to get an answer. It’s like they have taken lessons from the Ents in the Lord of the Rings films. “Anything worth saying is worth taking a long time to say it.” I’m like, yes, but if it was worthwhile to say it and you said it fast you could say something else worthwhile and then you would be doubly productive in your worthwhile sayings! Cue blank faces and amused expressions. Sigh.
They never understand. Maybe one day when I have slowed down I can hire myself out as an interpreter between the two worlds. Bridge the gap between the London pace and everyone else. Till then I will just have to learn to take a big breath and be patient, it can’t be that hard.