Life Thru a Lens

A slice of London life #1
August 22, 2007, 4:53 pm
Filed under: London

…number one in an occasional series.

You’re standing on the platform of Earl’s Court station, waiting for the crappy Olympia train that never comes, and you look up the stairs where a dumpy middle-aged lady is struggling with her case. A few steps up, a tall blonde stunner is looking at a tube map a little perplexed. Who does the checked-shirted foppish Fulhamite between them go to help?

Hardly a tough one. But it put me in mind of something I read earlier in the day. If you can’t be arsed to click, I’ll summarise. Newsnight’s Jeremy Vine is on a tube and sees somebody get taken apart by a big hard agressive type. He does nothing, but vows to the next time. The end.

As a response, it seems pretty lame, but we’ve all been there. I’ve had a couple of occasions on trains where I’ve sat back and let something happen because I’d rather get home/to my mate’s wedding than take a trip to hospital for corrective facial surgery. It’s not something I’m proud of but it’s also natural self-preservation when a fairly large group of upper-teenage kids (both times in my case) are involved and there’s one of you. Especially in a world where stab-proof uniforms are deemed necessary. (Ugh! I linked to the Daily Mail. I feel dirty.)

The first of these times I actually spoke up. Nobody backed me, I got full on death-glares and some substantial lip, and so I got back in my box, closed my eyes and tried to think myself to my happy place. And I didn’t make that mistake the second time.

Not sure where I’m going on this. Suffice to say that anonymity is the default setting for most of us in confrontational situations, especially where violence is a probable consequence. Mr Vine’s argument is that if one stands up others will. Well not really in my experience. It’s much easier to speak up after the event, talk about how you would have had ‘im if only you’d finished the paragraph in your book before he got off, and vow to be a better citizen next time.

I wish i could lay out ten rampaging hoodies with my silky ninja moves. But I can’t. And I hope I have the courage to step in next time I see an injustice, but I don’t guarantee it. It’s partly how i’m made, and partly how I’ve been shaped by experience.