By Michaela Gray
As an expat pedestrian in London you don’t so much get from A to B as survive the journey. Albeit, not entirely unscathed.
On my last visit, I broke a shoe, last week I nearly broke a foot. I expect to lose a toe at some point.
Be it on the city streets or in the depths of the tube passageways, walking requires complete concentration.
You are forever side stepping this way and that, leaping out of the way of oncoming pedestrians who’d sooner shoulder charge you onto your arse than move an inch further onto their side of the path.
For a country that invented walking on the left hand side, the English aren’t very good at it.
It’s not even that they’re not paying attention. A Londoner will stare you square in the eye as they approach, striding smack bang down the middle of the path, as if to challenge you not to throw your back against a shop front and out of their way.
Now listen – spatial awareness is easy. Stay on the left. If unsure, move further left. When a fellow pedestrian approaches, reassess your position. If you’ve wandered onto the right, correct yourself. Move left!
The English are exceedingly good at standing on the right side of the escalator, but give them a street to roam around on and they’ll turn it into a Gladiator ring.
If you can keep a sense of humour about it you’ll be much better off.
Think of a walk to the grocery store as participating in a real life video game. Avoid the obstacles and you wont so much win a life as get to keep the one you’ve already got.
That said, I look forward to the day a walk down the street seems as mundane as it did back home.