So, I’m on my way home after an exhausting day of shopping and tea, I get on a train and I happen upon two old school friends. I say hi and exchange pleasantries and other obligatory civilities but following this, we each take different seats and rejoin our own conversations and an impenetrable social barrier is erected.
These barriers are part and parcel of our British society, we revel in awkwardness and our little unwritten rules of engagement. I actually found this really funny when I went to university and saw how easily American and other foreign students found it to talk to complete strangers on the tube (usually a total no no unless you’re dying and they’re in a yellow vest) which totally caught the unfortunate victims of this heinous social breech totally unawares.
As much as its quintessentially British in its design, I think it really does contribute to much of the attrition one finds in communities because people just don’t talk to each other; I don’t think, in the 6 years I’ve lived in my current house, I’ve said more than two sentences to my next door neighbour.
Unfortunately, like queues, afternoon tea and the rain, these are things so ingrained in our culture that they would never change.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I was genuinely considering taking the exit at the polar opposite end of the train to avoid further eye contact; help?!)