Do you say thank you to the bus driver? There’s a fair chance you do, but it’s something a friend remarked on the other day as a huge difference between London and Canterbury.
We know that, in London, it’s best to avoid all contact with other people, that’s only common sense. After some time living there you perfect the hard London stare, the sort of look that says: “I’ve seen you, I won’t acknowledge you, if you try to talk to me I will kill you”.
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My friend was not only surprised that we spoke to a bus driver, but also had to tell him where we were going and pay cash for a paper ticket. It’s incredible the lengths Londoners will go to just to avoid talking to each other. The odd thing is that Londoners think this is a perfectly natural way to behave, and that everyone else in the country is weird.
Imagine the scene when shortly after getting off the bus, we encountered somebody else walking along the same pavement and cheerily exchanged greetings. I wouldn’t have been surprised if his head had simply exploded from his shoulders and lodged itself in a low-Earth orbit.
The discussion on basic courtesy to your fellow human beings ranged to safety, and if there are any parts of the city that you simply don’t go, or if we have our share of crime. Well, of course we do, but I think the big difference is that when there is a major incident it is reported on, people are shocked by it, and it’s not just considered a normal part of daily life.
A lot of my friends who grew up in London would have a story about being mugged, the threat of crime is ever-present. I stick by my initial impression that Canterbury feels like a very safe place to be.
It looks like most people agree, in a Yougov poll last year Canterbury was 8th out of all UK cities in a poll asking people if thy liked where they lived, with 79% of people saying they did. Lowest was Bradford at 54%, which I found pretty shocking. I’ve been to Bradford, and I have no idea what those 54% see in the place. I suppose it’s not far from Leeds.
But there is the point, and I do have a point – although I suspect you’d have been doubting that by the third paragraph. A really big part of what makes Canterbury a great place to live is that people like their city and they also seem to like their neighbours. Not everywhere can make that boast.