Living in a Bubble
For the last decade and a bit I have been living in rural Cheshire amongst the farmers, the stock-brokers, Premiership footballers, and the cast of Corrie. While we are not exactly isolated – the property, a former Reform School, is divided into nine properties – we still have a septic tank and are surrounded by farmland for a good mile or so in every direction (if you ignore the M6).
Consequently, my tolerance of bad smells (they use chicken sh*t as fertiliser in these ‘ere parts) and my personal space have expanded significantly over the years. I do tend to live in a virtual bubble and get uncomfortable when my personal boundary is breached.
Which makes navigating around the streets and pedestrian areas of our great capital a little difficult. I constantly find myself trying to avoid bumping into people. This is all the harder because most of my time on the pavements of the Smoke is spent dragging a trolley bag while trying to stop my laptop case and man bag from slipping off my shoulder. This feat of juggling, balance and dexterity becomes almost impossible if you add an umbrella into the mix, or use of the mobile phone….
The hotel I generally stay at in London is literally just a few hundred metres and five minutes walk from the office. But, my walk to work in the mornings is rarely a straight-line perambulation. I am consistently forced to move out of the way of people texting while walking or reading the Metro “newspaper”. They are heads down and as direct as the crow flies.
I am constantly having to weave to avoid joggers – London is awash with Lycra-clad lovelies and weebles (they wobble but don’t fall down) pounding up and down, lost in their iPods and oblivious to their surroundings.
My slaloms around the running bores and mobile phone multi-taskers often bring me into range of women wielding pushchairs as weapons. In this part of London the pushchair pushers are often Filipino or Eastern European au pairs or nannies. The children are not theirs so they think little about thrusting their three-wheeler Maclarens in front of them like a snow plough or a bull bar.
But when I take evasive action to avoid being mown down by Mary Poppins I have to be careful not to trip over the many homeless persons sleeping rough in doorways or crashing into the ubiquitous street cleaners trying to hose them down in an attempt to force them out before the tourists get up – Boris’ non-lethal ethnic cleansing.
All of this ducking and diving leaves me stressed and exhausted after my brief walk to work. Unfortunately, the office is also quite close to a busy train and underground station. And so, I am rarely the only bumbling space-constrained countryside dweller at large. And, if I get one coming towards me in the opposite direction, it invariably ends in a heap of laptop and trolley bags…..