"There was a guy standing beside me reading an interesting book. I started reading it over his shoulder. I couldn’t see the title, so I asked him what it was called. I was surprised when he reacted positively and told me that he always attempted to read something enlightening as it made him feel a bit better about his life and productivity by the time he got home! It was such a nice and unexpected conversation – and it got me thinking about my own reading habits..."
Fairly new to the city, I was in one of those moments of inner turmoil; my mind turning over thoughts of loneliness and irritation at everything and everyone around me - what the hell was I doing in London? I was standing on a bus going to Brockley, and I would have thought I’d looked unapproachable, but instead a man sitting close by saw I was carrying a guitar. He gave me a big smile and asked if I’d play him a song! Before long we were chatting about traveling and living in different countries and cities around the world, and about music. He was leaving the next day for a few months travel around South America. Because the man was a small distance away from where I was standing, quite a few people nearby were able to hear us talk, and many of them also joined in. It felt a little surreal, stepping of the bus later, smiling and saying goodbye to a bunch of strangers as though they were long time friends. I couldn’t have felt more differently about my new city in the space of 30 minutes. Since that day, I often try and talk to strangers on public transport (I find trains are easiest). I’m not quite as bold as that guy, just asking me a question out the blue. But if I manage to catch the eye of someone I’ll take the plunge and I never regret it. It’s just unnatural for everyone to travel in silence when we’re packed so close together!
I was getting the last Tube back home one evening, and I had to wait for ages on the platform, so I started talking to the girl sitting next to me. She was Czech and had come over to the UK with her boyfriend for work. She was a science graduate in the Czech Republic but was working at a sandwich chain. I suppose in many ways it was a pretty typical story, but she was so upbeat and positive about London and living in the UK. At the end of the journey she emphasised how good it was to talk, and pulled out a sandwich from her bag and gave one to me.
I was on the tube home today and there was no shortage of conversation. At the station at Earls Court a young man asked me how my day had been. After chatting about the local area and iPads and TV I mentioned the concept of Talk to me London and had to leave him with it saved on his phone as something to look out for. I encouraged him not to stop talking to people. An older lady in the meantime had sat down by us and thought the fact that we were chatting was lovely! Next on the tube, I bumped into an old neighbour (from 10yrs ago). We caught up. When he got off the tube, the guy opposite me mentioned how nice it was to see us catching up, and we got talking too. It was enthusing. It was contagious. One conversation seemed to lead to another. I had a smile across my face all the way home.
I once had a great conversation with this awesome plumber who was originally from Ghana. He told me how to get a trustworthy plumber, we compared the weather in Ghana and the UK, and we talked about his two divorces. It was so interesting to hear all about his life – I even changed my route so that we could chat for longer. Now I want to go to Ghana, and I know so much more about plumbing!