Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Underground Challenge: Part 2

I started writing about my evenings of essays; tedious battles with Marx, Aristotle, Plato and Socrates whilst putting off sleep to maximise productivity. But I figured me winging about university isn't all that interesting to anybody. The only reason I felt like sharing was because I was proud of myself for staying focused and stuff.

So, let's move on...

My last blog post (the one about the girl on the underground) sparked conversation with a bunch of different friends. One friend was made irate by a rude woman on the tube, which led to her suggesting I cover the underground with posters that teach Londoners how to be polite. This actually sounds like a promising project. I'll work out the logistics and document it if I decide to do it. It could be a pretty cool art project, maybe even convince a few moody London types to perk up a bit.

Oh gosh!

I think my sister actually did this when she was at art school! She made that glue-paste gunk, as in the kind you use to paper mache things (you know, like when you'd blow up a balloon and paper mache the outside before popping the balloon and hollowing it out, remember? Then you'd paint it or something and feel all arty 'cause you were making a mess...) and used it to paste A4 pieces of paper with things like "smile"printed on them all over the place. I think she may well have got in trouble for fly posting! However, this was years ago, so my memories might be wobbly...Confirmation is in order. Also, I'm pretty sure she carried a video camera around with her to film commuters reactions to her holding up signs. If this really happened and I'm not just making up memories, I think that's a little bit amazing.

I will ask her.

Another suggestion following that blog came from the lovely girlfriend who decided we should create a Facebook event, where just for the day, Londoners talk to each other on public transport instead of sitting in the usual silence. Try and convince people to just be nice to each other; it's only for a day! So this is something I will get onto organising too. Make sure you play along! This is part of my underground challenge! We're going to choose a day in the summer so people have notice to hopefully spread the word! I'll give you lot the link to the Facebook event as soon as we've sorted it; be sure to participate! And to invite all your friends. And tell them to do the same!

Maybe the person you decide to help out or just to talk to will be your next best friend... maybe even turn out to be your one true love! And ok, maybe those are far fetched possibilities but fairytales are always far fetched and they always turn out alright... Well, by 'alright' I mean the flowered up fairytales that were twisted by the likes of Disney and such are always spun to have one of those unrealistic happy endings we all pretend we're after but are terrified of finding. We're all terrified of making contact with anyone, in case they think we're weird or creepy or something. We can't allow anyone to know we love them more than they love us, so we close ourselves off. We try and stay as far away from other human beings as possible, but during certain times of the day riding public transport means you're going to touch people. And not just the occasional brush past someone, but leaning, pushing and grabbing are all going on all over your personal space. This makes us uncomfortable, so we ignore it's happening and in ignoring the closeness of the people surrounding you as you all cram into a metal tin, silence falls over you. Because it would be too weird if that guy pushed up against you started talking, or if that woman that just fell into your boobs then asked you about your day.

But sometimes, I think you just have to take a leap. If you spend all your time avoiding making contact out of fear, you'll miss a lot of amazing people. And ok, it's not like the tube is an optimum friend making situation and you might be a whole lot better at it out and about or something, but if you live your whole life in your comfort zone is that a bit of a waste?

So prepare yourselves for TalkToAStrangerDay (that can just be what I'm calling it for now) and let me know about your adventures! I'd love to know how you all get on.


  1. This is a brilliant idea! I was down in London a couple of weeks ago and I am constantly struck by the unnatural silence that plagues the tube, I was afraid to try and start a conversation in case a Londoner threw their book at me or something...Anyway, I think I'm going to be in London during the summer and, hopefully, I'll be able to participate in this wonderful event :).

  2. But wasn't everyone as children taught 'never talk to strangers' this would be flying in the face of everything I stand for and I won't have it! (Clearly sarcasm) Just imagine though, 12 year old walk through the front door, Mummy, Mummy! I've got a new best friend!

    The mother is the least bit pleased with the 40something year old that appears to be the busker she spat at the previous morning. Eeeeeb.

    (also just a note, you probably wouldn't ever wing about uni work..... you may whine though ;] RE: "I figured me winging...." -> "I figured me whining.....")
    Massive loves, I will support the event! :D xx

  3. Sounds great. It would be great to talk to someone who wasn't drunk, or when I'm not drunk, or without the paralysing fear I assosiate with Underground interaction.

    And I feel your pain with the essay writing. Not long to go now!


  4. seriously guys this is a sick idea, traveling on the tube is dread with out chooons! if its cool im guna link this to all elysian lot they will fcking love it !!!!! anyway come elysian project guys on the 14th may facebook the name to get the event page. elysian is formed from planet & whirly ppl so get involved folks n big up the randomnesss :D xx