Tick Tock

Last time I posted to this blog, I wrote about Stonehenge and the non-linear passage of history. Today, I’m continuing that theme in a slightly different direction: looking forward instead of back. Specifically, the pressures of time in London.

Ever heard the saying “the city never sleeps”? It’s an apt figure of speech to describe life here (even though most pubs, clubs, and whatnot close down much earlier than their American counterparts). There’s a sense that time is more precious, that it has to be used efficiently and this takes precedence over things like relaxation or civility. Take the cabs, for example: I know it’s in their best professional interest to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, but I’m not sure that excuses the number of near-death encounters I and the other students on this program have had while crossing the road. We’ve had something like one close brush with vehicular manslaughter per week. Granted, we were jaywalking for most of these, but that brings me to another point: everybody jaywalks here, because it’s just the fastest way to get around.

London doesn’t just hurry you around the streets, either; dining can turn into a race to the finish if you go at the wrong hour. There’s a nice Korean joint out in Soho called Assa, where I’ve been once for lunch and once for dinner. The difference in the atmosphere and, frankly, the quality of those two excursions was remarkable. At lunch, my friend and I were two of the only people in the restaurant, so the music was quiet, the waiters were relaxed, and we were able to have a nice chat over our meal. All in all, a good time. Dinner, by contrast, was a sensory bombardment: different aromas wafted up from every table, loud K-pop and conversations from other groups drowned out most attempts at conversation, and the place was a blur of motion. One of my companions remarked that it was so loud that she couldn’t taste her food properly! We all felt rushed to finish up and get out the door quickly – and so we did.

This sense of urgency has even come to affect my own behavior. As my classmates can attest, I’m ruthlessly punctual here – if we agreed to meet at 6:10 to go out for dinner, I say, then I start getting impatient at 6:11 and proceed to contacting latecomers at 6:15. In other words, I have no chill. I can’t shake the feeling that every minute matters, particularly if we have to be somewhere at a specific time, and as a result I start hurrying around just as much as those cab drivers who come so close to killing us on a weekly basis. This might make me a hypocrite: after all, I look down on strangers who inconvenience me by hurrying, and yet I demand strict timeliness from my friends. Let me just make this one argument in my defense, however: if no one will slow down for us in this city, then how can we afford to be late?

Until next time (and no later),

Matthew Pruyne

Class of 2017

Author: pruynem

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *