Native Londoners tend to wax poetic about their Transport for London system, which seems rather Byzantine and largely ineffective to the rest of us. TFL - including the bus routes - is always congested. Its trains derail far too often and the connections only take you to certain parts of the city. Its tube is truly an 'underground' system; coming up from a platform five layers beneath street level requires a maddening, sweaty dash up multiple flights of stairs, corridors, elevator connections, and escalators which often have reduced access. (Try attempting that feat as a disabled Londoner or as a mum with a pram.) Its frustrated employees are strike-prone. And most annoyingly of all, it is quite expensive, for what it is. Driving is only slightly more manageable, and cycling in most parts of the city is a death dance with double-decker buses.
Better to walk in such a place, not so?
One needs constant cheering up in a dastardly grey city, and walking does the trick. There's just something about braving the shit London weather and dour cityscapes on foot, as if one was set on conquering every square inch of its many boroughs. It takes the mind off life's more troublesome matters and reduces each moment to a process of navigating a pulsating mess of a city that is bursting at the seams with people. Tiny, newborn people. Old, wizened people. Snooty, entitled people. Broke, shuffling people. Dangerous, flighty people. Innocent, smiling people. Foreign, hopeful people. Local, welcoming people. And even the not-so-welcoming ones.
Walking the streets of London, particularly on the weekends when the pace is a tad slower, allows for an appreciation of just how variegated and curious and wondrous we all are. It takes away the sting of a bafflingly impending Brexit, and brings a wry, tiny smile to the lips. It replaces the monotony of life with a still, small hope and for every dreary underpass or dark passage, it offers up a quiet street on which to stand for a minute and clear the mind.
All Rights Reserved