Have you felt the London Vibe?
A few years ago I was on my way to a member’s club to meet friends when I stopped in a small corner store for a couple things. I guess I had an odd look on my face as the store clerk asked “Are you ok mate”? “Yeah,” I replied, “I’m just tired”. He looked at me with a smile and said “Everyone in London is tired”. I think the store clerk may be right.
London is a city full of energy. Everything moves fast and furious. You wake up, get ready for the day, step outside onto the pavement and before you know it, it is time for bed again. Seriously, this is how it feels for me most days. The days race by in what seems to be an instant. March through September fly by and the next thing you know is the Christmas lights are switched on in Oxford Street. It’s incredible.
Being in London is living. I always say – I go to London to live life and I go to Texas to sit down and take a breath. There is a rush of energy in London that can only be matched by New York City. You can feel this lightning speed energy simply by walking down any London street. You can’t look anywhere and not see something moving. Everything is in motion it seems.
People are always in a hurry, waiters in restaurants move fast, cars zip by, and tall double decker buses zoom past one after another after another. Lights constantly flash in your eyes. Motion doesn’t stop underground as “The Tube” stops at a platform every few minutes. Nothing stops. Commuters rush through underground tunnels like ants bringing home food to their queen. It’s crazy.
Have you ever had a quiet moment on the streets in Central London? I haven’t found one and I’ve been walking London’s streets for more years than I can count. I remember being on Oxford Street on a Saturday once and literally having a panic attack. I never have panic attacks. That’s not me. On that particular day, however, all I wanted to do was get away from the crowd and the noise. Now I avoid Oxford Street at all costs and I’ve even found an alternative route when I head that direction. Since that day I learned quiet is inside me and that’s a bit of comfort when I find myself in a tense London situation.
The fast paced energy of London is actually a good thing. The vitality of the city makes you feel alive. You might even find there to be an extra step in your skip so to speak. It’s a good feeling, if not a bit exhausting. I always think better and my creativity is sparked simply by being aware of my surroundings as I walk.
London is a city where you can be anonymous and even alone amongst a million people. As long as you like yourself and can keep yourself company, being anonymous and alone is great. I love it myself. If you need constant attention and validation, you might find London a wee bit hard, cold and callous. Can you imagine walking through a city so crowded as London and never speak to someone and no one speaks to you? It’s interesting.
I like the anonymous bit to be honest. It’s especially nice when I’m out with my camera. I can get lost in London without being literally lost. I zone everything and everyone out. It’s me, my camera and London. Sometimes I feel as if I have the entire fabulous city all to myself. If anyone speaks to me, it’s tourists and not Londoners. Tourists want to know what I’m doing or how to capture a great photo. Londoners might glance over to see what I’m doing but mostly they could care less. It’s great. It’s brilliant and part of the London vibe.
London is not for the faint of heart. If it’s rainbows and butterflies you’re looking for, go to the Rainforest Café. When you want the vim and vigor of a city full of liveliness, step out onto to the streets of London.
London will challenge you. Challenge her back. Walk with your head held high, look people in the eye, offer the odd smile and don’t let anyone tell you London is not for you. London is for everyone of all walks of life. She is especially great when you contribute to her energy.
At the end of the day when you go home and prop your tired feet up, or you return to your hotel exhausted on your bed, remember the day you had. Rewind everything that happened during the day. Remember all the sights, sounds and motion that engulfed your senses. And when you’ve done all that, remember what a brilliant city London is.