The Brits have had a seriously bad few weeks.
They’ve just outlawed smoking in all public places – which I think is great, but the pubs sure are full of a lot of sad faces these days.
It was the wettest June on record, and July is shaping up no better. I don’t think there has been a day without rain in weeks. Honestly, you can’t even tell it’s summer here.
Then there were the massive floods all throughout the country that so far have killed at least five people (admittedly, kind of par for the course in other countries, but a huge surprise here).
And now the entire country is on high alert after two botched car bombs and a flaming jeep smashing into Glasgow airport.
I admit, going out in London on the tubes yesterday was really unnerving. There are police in yellow jackets everywhere – which, you know, doesn’t actually make me feel any safer. What on earth could they do if an actual suicide bomber showed up? If anything, the cops just look like big, tasty yellow targets for a suicide bomber hoping to create maximal impact.
And yesterday a train went off the tracks near Mile End tube station, stranding 800 travelers, and forcing them to shut down the trains in that area all day. They assured us it was just a technical malfunction, but of course at a time like this, you can’t help but be scared that something bigger is brewing. Then they had to shut down part of the Piccadilly line because of a “high security” alert at Piccadilly Circus, which didn’t make me feel much better about riding the train.
When I took this photo, a security guard giggled at me, a short, chubby, friendly woman in her 30s. I explained that I was from Canada, and that everything going on was kind of surreal – I was a bit worried to be honest. She said “Oh come now – do we look worried?” You know, she actually did make me feel better. I certainly have no experience of the famous British resilience during the years of the IRA bombing, or during the dark times of the Blitz. But if the spirit of this city during the past few days is any indication, I’m sure the Brits were as brave, positive and strong as the legends say.
I have an ongoing series in this blog, “The lunacy of the British” (check out parts one, two and three) where I point out (sometimes in great detail) everything about this country and its inhabitants that drive me crazy. Today however, I can’t bear to write about what’s wrong with this place – I want to write about everything I love about it.
Not just because at a time like this the Brits deserve a break from my bitching. But because I really, deeply, genuinely love English people. I just adore them. And I want them to know it.
My Canadian friends and family often seem baffled by my choice to live here. It’s dirty. It’s crowded. The weather is utterly shit. It’s appallingly expensive. And there’s way, way more crime. Why leave a clean, orderly, easy city like Toronto for dirty, messy London?
Because I love English people. I just adore them. I don’t even know if I can put my finger on exactly why – but within my first month of being here I had more friends in London than I did in Toronto, where I had lived for 20 years. There is just something about English people. They are so warm and open.
French people might be more sophisticated and cool – but they have a well-deserved reputation for being frigid. You can know a French person for ten years and never see the inside of their home. You can know an English person one day and they will offer to let you stay at their house for a month.
Just yesterday, after going on a bit of a bender for a couple of days (and becoming a bit smelly) my friend’s flatmate offered to let me borrow a clean t-shirt. When she saw me put it on she just said, “Have it.” What? “It doesn’t fit me properly, and you look so much better in it – just have it, honestly.” No hesitation.
There is just something about British people. I just adore them.
So to parallel my “Lunacy of the British” series I’m going to pen another one: The Brilliance of the British.
Because for all their faults, they really are bloody brilliant people.