Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Underground Challenge

Londoners rarely talk to each other (unless they're drunk or something), we're normally storming through crowds or sitting in silence on public transport. Whenever friends of mine from out of London come to visit they find the tube seriously bizarre. All these people, sat in a room together in complete silence for anything up to about 2 hours or so depending on how far you have to go.
The other day my best friend wrote a blog about imagining the lives of people he could see on public transport; whisking them off to fantasy destinations and building up entire stories they might just fall in to. Well, yesterday I went a step further and actually spoke to someone. Found out a bit of their story. Made contact.

I was sat in the corner, writing a poem in my note book (as you do) and the girl opposite me started coughing. It looked like she was in pain so I offered her my bottle of water. I hadn't touched it yet and she could clearly use it more than me, so instinctually pulled it out of my bag and handed it over. She seemed so grateful, like a ridiculous amount of grateful for an 80p bottle of water. Isn't that sad? We're conditioned to think the world is a pile of wank and people are all horrible, so if we ever come across random acts of kindness it throws us off. I didn't even do anything, but she was surprised anyone would step outside their own protective bubble to notice her. And she was thankful.

TubeGirl seemed to have friendly eyes (you know when you can tell if a person is going to be alright or if they're going to be a dick?) and I had just stuck a couple flyers for SpeechMotion into the poster holders over head so figured I'd offer her one and ask if she likes poetry. 

Turns out I found a poet. Who's the same age as me and the same star sign, how weird is that? I handed over my notebook and she read the poem I had just written. It was my first attempt at a love poem. Being a love poem and me being me, I doubt it'll ever hit the interwebs but I've given it to the girlfriend. If she can inspire a love poem, I think she deserves a copy. 

Before TubeGirl got off the train at Turnpike Lane, I gave her my Facebook name and a link to my YouTube account. Check me out, with the self promoting and stuff.

And guess what... When I got home she had actually added me. And had been watching my YouTube videos. Which I am definitely slacking on at the moment, but the last leg of uni combined with a girlfriend means I get less play time and haven't quite worked out time management yet. I have loads of new poems though, just need to do something with them. For my birthday, one of my friends bought me a lush notebook, which I think seems to be encouraging me to write far more than the PukkaPad I was carrying around before. Strangely. 

So, the challenge part of this blog for the lot of you is to talk to a stranger. Or help someone out randomly. See if you make a new friend. You never know who you may find. People are too detached from one another, from themselves. Especially living in the city. Sometimes it's like we don't even exist in a big city like London. Surrounded by people, but no one can see you, because no one is looking.

UPDATE: There's a FB Group for the challenge


  1. Heya Penny! (clicks like button)

    Cool post, I wrote a poem the other week for London Transport Museum, and was touching on similar ideas.. I'll e-mail it to ya if u'd care to read :)

    Keep up the blog, essays can wait ;)

  2. I loved it. I'll definitely take the challenge. I miss seeing you around.

    Take care and keep smiling. =*

  3. People who live in a metropolis are actually far more lonely than those who don't though the world "metropolis" is supposed to suggest the otherwise. But I am not a talkative person, so I suppose I won't just talk to strangers. But when they need help, I will definitely take the challenge. You are lucky that you met another poet!


  4. I totally love this. It's weird how I blog about it and then the situation actually arises for you! Good timing or what?? :P hehe

  5. Haha Pennie you nicked the idea Greg and I had! oh well great minds eh?! I think I must have done this before somewhere, im always talking to randomers, or smiling at others funny conversations..not in an ear-wigging way butin a generally interested in the world around me way :) I like this challenge, I will endeavour to complete it next time I am on public transport xx

  6. Haha I didn't steal anything Kim! Just coincidence, promise =p I just had a chance to write a blog and figured it was an interesting enough part of my day to warrant it.
    And good! Let me know how you get on.