Strolling around London isn’t always a walk in the park. Use Jonny Ensall’s spotter’s guide to steer clear of problem pedestrians. Illustrations David Ziggy Greene.
The zombie texter
There’s such a thing as getting lost in a good book. A good text, on the other hand – nah. Let’s face it, that SMS from your boo probably isn’t worthy of Austen, meaning you can come up for air now and again. Spot this type of walker by their bowed head (think funeral mourner) or by the fact they’re lying, bloody-nosed, beside a lamppost, struggling to tap ‘OMG OUCH!’ into their iPhone.
The ambling weaver
Left to right to left. You think you’ve worked out the pattern then – wham! – a violent lurch and the meandering maniac in front is right up in your grill again, oblivious to the fact you’ve been trying to get past for the last half-hour. It’s like following a pissed Frenchman driving a battered 2CV down a country lane. As in that situation, you can only hope they roll (safely) into a ditch before too long.
The ruthless commuter
To revise the old adage: when a man is tired of London, he’ll do anything it takes to get back to Tunbridge Wells two minutes earlier than usual. Why? Nobody knows, yet these human cannonballs are so keen to return to the suburbs they might as well be running (in fact, look out for the oft-employed half-run, aka ‘the travelcard trot’). Try not to get in their way, or you’ll feel the full force of a withering ‘excuse me’. Ooft!
The teetering high-heeler
‘There’s only ten people in the world, tops, who should wear heels,’ according to Caitlin Moran, ‘and six of those are drag queens.’ Take a look around the West End of a weekend and you’ll see some of humanity’s other 7 billion bipeds trying to prove her wrong. Still, you have to admire the effort, and occasionally gasp with worry, as they take on uneven road surfaces. Mind that adverse camber!
The sudden stopper
Last and by all means least, the most infuriating of London’s walkers are the ones who aren’t actually walking. Like a perverse philosophical experiment, these unwitting Schrödingers of the tube system pose the question: if there are massive delays on the Central line, but the people who caused the chaos don’t realise, are you actually late? Yes. Yes, you bloody well are.
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