Why can’t you just smile and then stand up?
PUBLISHED: 12:10 23 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 23 January 2019
I never thought Londoners would put Norfolk passengers to shame
Mum and I went to London recently – and we can’t wait to go back.
We haven’t been there together for a while and after all the stories about how no-one looks at you in the city anymore, let alone talks to you, we weren’t looking forward to the journey – especially after my last visit when I got properly lost, for ages.
But we were going to see Swan Lake, an absolutely beautiful production with the English National Ballet so the travel would be worth it. It was amazing too, everything we’d imagined and wanted from a traditional ballet – a huge orchestra, lots and lots of proper sticky-out white tutus, the highest jumps and spins that went on forever, the atmospheric sound of dancers on Pointe trip-trap-trip-trapping in those tiny tiny steps across the stage, and a story told through dance we not only understood but believed.
It was magical, but what made our day just as noteworthy were the Londoners. Mum has grey hair, but she’s fit, active and as capable as anyone. Everywhere we went on the underground – and there were a good number of changes – she was met with the most unexpected chivalry.
No sooner had she stepped on a train than more than one person would be literally leaping out of their seat and insisting she took it. People looked us in the eye, they spoke, they offered directions, they smiled – it was not at all what we expected.
Our favourite moment was at a platform where a young man offered his seat the second he saw mum. She didn’t particularly want it as our train was only a minute away, but he was so polite and smiley it would have been churlish to refuse. He looked delighted as she sat down, as if she’d made his day – rather than he ours.
Back to Norwich though and a particularly packed park and ride bus; three very definitely senior citizens, with large suitcases and one with a walking stick, are in front of me near the end of the queue. It’s full when we get on, but on-one makes any eye contact or says anything let alone offers any of the three a seat – for the whole journey. Was every seated passenger on that bus truly less able to stand than the three elderly people.
I offer to ask someone for them as at least one of the case-holding gentlemen looks exhausted, but they quietly say ‘no, it’s fine.’
They (and I) stand, the entire way.
Come on Norfolk, wake up.