Whenever I’ve told people that I live in London, especially those living up North, I’ve usually been met with the same disdain and horror.
“London?!” they cry, “How do you cope living there?!”
Cope? What’s there to cope with?
Well, if you didn’t know, it’s ‘smoggy, dirty, dingy and overpriced’, full of ‘rude’ inhabitants that walk with such strength it’s though they’re trying to shatter the earth beneath their feet, and with such pace, one could assume that there’s a devastating hurricane in the not-too-far-distance.
I love LDN. I’m not a die-hard Londoner who can’t imagine living anywhere else – I imagine myself in different countries all the time. However, I think I am privileged to have found my place in such a vibrant city, with each ‘end’ having its own culture, even cultures that exist within cultures. I’ve learnt how to whine like a Jamaican, doba’le like a Nigerian, sing along to a few Bangra tunes, drop a couple words of Twi – I’m sure you get my drift.
As cliche as it sounds, there isn’t a city quite like LDN. Growing up here has resulted in a spillage of other cultures into mine; we live in dynamic city (and I’m pretty sure my ability to
twerk dance to Rihanna’s Work would be overall mediocre if I’d grown up on the outskirts of Cumbria).
It’s not all good though, is it? Those who have the misfortune of travelling into Central London every day are well aware that LDN is indeed overcrowded. Between the commuters near punching you in the face in order to reach a seat before you, that awkward walk behind a slow moving buggy and that annoying person who keeps getting their clothing trapped in the door (how do we know? The driver keeps announcing it to the whole tube), I’m sure that we can all agree that the daily commute into LDN is a truly treacherous experience.
Here are a few rules to be aware of if you are new to the LDN underground and are appalled by what you’re experiencing.
1) It’s okay if you haven’t showered, feel free to put your armpit in someone’s face. We accept that you’ve had to get up early everyday this week and haven’t showered since Sunday.
2) It’s perfectly acceptable to discuss your love/sex life in a full, yet silent, carriage. We are all dying to know that new thing Luke has been trying out.
3) When there’s no space, create space. Pushing people aside in order to fit you, your sweat, your rucksack and your desperation, on the already packed tube, is fine.
4) A couple that commutes together, stays together. If you want your relationship to be successful, travelling together everyday is essential. And of course, we all want to observe your lengthy, saliva-filled goodbye before 7.30am. Approaching the stop at which one of them has to depart often feels like the dramatic ending of a scene from a romcom (“It’s time now…I have to go…I know, I know…But I’ll see you again…I won’t be long…”) so please, feel free to entertain us.
5) Hundreds of people queuing to access an underground station isn’t a safety hazard at all – do not be alarmed.
6) It’s okay to be pressed up against a man you don’t know. The lights are dim enough and the fact that we are all using headphones anyway (please see number 7) means that there’s already music playing in our ears (although it might not be the same song). Feel free to have a cheeky whine.
7) Headphones are essential because the silence is too loud.
8) Judge the ‘seek assistance’ people who definitely knew they didn’t have enough money on their oyster card to travel to work but were moving in faith, tapping away, hoping that the god of TFL would create a miracle.
9) You will feel an immense surge in panic as you realise that you’re approaching the stop you need to get off at and there are copious amounts of people blocking your pathway to the outside world. Don’t worry, they will part for you. Or you will push them aside whispering “sorry, sorry..I’m sorry” as you pass.
10) Someone will tell you about Jesus
How strange it is that we never use our daily commute as an opportunity to share God’s love with those around us. We don’t know what the person beside us is going through, whether they desperately need someone to listen to them for a short while or to hear 5 simple words: You’re going to be okay.
Sharing the love of Christ is hard at times – how do we share our faith without seeming fanatic or delusional? What’s more, how dare we share our faith with the person sitting beside us awkwardly on that awful commute to the job we sorta-really-maybe hate?
I’m not telling you to start shouting down the carriage about hell and repentance – I don’t think that’s the way to go about it. I do think you should share a smile with someone. I think you could say ‘Have a good day’ as the person beside you gets up to leave. Perhaps you could ask about the book they’re reading. Maybe they’ll ask about your devotional in response (or they’ll look at you like you’re a crazy person and move across the carriage). Whatever the outcome, you’ll know in your heart that you are fulfilling God’s greatest call to us all: to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
There are hundreds of ways to share Christ’s love and to embody his character. Let’s try some of them next week!
Lots of love and happy, glorious Friday to you all!