I love people watching. Just while waiting for the train, drinking coffee, staring out the window (only very occasionally) or eating lunch in a park square; and London is the best place in the world to do it (except maybe the Wellington water front, now there are some entertaining characters).
I realise the great irony in this, as a blogger whose photos are generally always empty of the general public – they are there I swear, often in droves – but don’t nessecarily add to the story of many images. Or do they?
As London life is lived, I see harried housemothers, monks, businessmen in loudly pinstriped suits, look-at-me girls with legs up to their armpits and not very much clothing, mischievous kids, loved up couples hands interlinked like nothing will ever change, blokes dressed head-to-toe in fluoro pink, rampages (the collective noun I’ve made up) of power rangers, tourists with expensive cameras dangling from their hands, whilst their fanny-packs are padlocked out of sight. I’ve seen a tribe of smurfs, nuns, snakes (a boa constrictor), and don’t even mention the Waitangi Day Circle Line tube crawl.
As a longtime London resident I have learned not to make eye contact; several years ago a bloke tried to sell me a kitten from his cardboard box
full of kittens. Oh, how I wanted one, but I was working in an office
where they had a rather elderly, rather blind collie and as I was
worried she might think the kitten was a chew toy…
A secret quilty pleasure of mine are the handbag dogs. Immaculately dressed women, walking innocuously around with their incredibly oversize bags, then ‘pop’, out comes a cute little head at their elbow. (As an aside, I wonder if biscuit would be my handbag cat? I did see a camping cat a few months ago…) I do sometimes wonder what the pups think of their situation, but they don’t ever look unhappy – is this the head-out-of-the-car-window moment for modern dogs?
Christmas brings out a whole new level to this microcosm of human behaviour; busy, harried shoppers at the end of their day barging in and out of shops, discussing presents for every member of their extended menagerie, tales of office Christmas parties, drunken exchanges, the calculated avoidance of busy train doors, an exultant snatching of a last minute bargain.
I’ve also seen incredible small moments of kindness: retrieving a dropped teddy bear, buying a drink for the stressed person in the line behind, giving hot food to the needy, a bowl of water outside pubs for canine companions.
And there are always ten bonus points if you manage to spot people sleeping on the train…