Dear Slow Folk of London,
It’s me, the man always tutting behind you. I know you hate me. And I hate you. We exist on the same planet, it seems, primarily to wind one another up.
I used to think maybe there was a chance we could settle our differences and become friends, but now I’m not so sure. You’ve caused me so much aggravation over the years that if I get high blood pressure one day, it will unfortunately be you that I blame.
See, it truly pains me when I’m stood behind you in the line for the cash machine at Kings Cross, racking my brain for ideas on what it is you could possibly be doing that could take such an inexplicably long time. Does your finger need a little break after each push of the button? Is it really that strenuous?
OK, 2… and rest… 7… ooh, what’s that over there? Is that a pigeon with one leg? Ah yes. How funny. OK, where was I? Ah yes, erm 9. Oh s**t, should have pressed 3. Better start again. CLEAR.
All the while I’m waiting, envisioning things that could possibly have occurred to warrant the amount of time you’re managing to take, before waiting for an apologetic smile when you finally do retrieve your cash, which has, no doubt, significantly dropped in value since you began the transaction – depending on interest rates. But that look, the one that should say ‘sorry I took so God damn long,’ never comes. You walk – or plod, rather – off into the distance, like nothing ever happened. Like you didn’t just stand at a cash point for an inconceivable amount of time, causing a queue the size of a wedding conga line to take over London Bridge street.
In bars, especially busy ones in the heart of Soho, you have so many questions. A drink is a drink, you know? Just order one. Any one. But no, you want to know what offers are on. Which ‘dry whites’ do they have. May you please taste the draft ale? Meanwhile I am spitting feathers, gagging for even a mere droplet of alcohol, to the point where I’d merrily chug from the drain pipes. I am thirsty, man. Don’t you care? Is it more important that your beer is gluten free than the rest of us even getting the chance to be presented with the opportunity of whetting our whistles before heading home on the night bus? Maybe you should consider drinking at home… did you ever think of that? Think of the fun you could have, coming up with queries about various drinks and then Googling them on your laptop. Every question you have could be answered instantly, all from the comfort of your couch.
Worse yet, sometimes when walking in the street, you just stop. You suddenly decide to cease walking, and choose instead to stand completely still, paying no mind at all to the fact it’s Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. You have decided to stop walking and instead create an obstruction to the pedestrian traffic, akin to the leaf that falls in A Bug’s Life. Everyone in your wake must now begin the long trek around you, as you stand there, gazing gormlessly into the distance, presumably trying to remember where you are. You’re not even elderly, so you don’t even have the respectable excuse of dementia. You are young and choosing to live your life at a glacial pace, inadvertently dragging – and boy does it drag – the rest of us with you.
Some of us have things to do, you know. My Netflix isn’t going to watch itself. Why is it OK for you to make me late for my big evening plans, even if they do consist of watching Orange Is The New Black in my underwear?
I know what you think of me. You think I’m a t**t who needs to chill the f**k out. You don’t understand why I’m rolling my eyes as we all cram onto the bus. ‘We’re all still getting there at the same time,’ you think to yourself, smiling. I know that.
But I am an impatient person, and the world is, and will always be, filled with people like me. And thank God it is. For if there weren’t impatient people, like myself, who just got on with things, then civilisation as we know it would be quite different. No one may ever even have invented the cash machine that you take so long to use, or the elderflower gin cocktail you spent 20 minutes inquiring about before finally ordering. Those additions to life might have been put off until tomorrow, time and time again, or the person inventing them might never even arrived at the location they were set to do so, so busy were they standing in the middle of Camden market for no apparent reason.
Please, I beg you, just hurry up. It doesn’t take five minutes to put your coat on in the Clapham Picturehouse cinema when the film ends. I, like pretty much everyone else who just downed a gargantuan £7 diet coke from the cinema, is in desperate need of a wee. Just put it on… and go. No need to make a meal of it. It’s a coat, not a Rubiks’ cube. On it goes… arms, zip – if there’s a zip, buttons if buttons, and then… done. Isn’t that better?
Have some urgency, damn it. Who knows what you might achieve… You might finally get that promotion. You might learn a foreign language. You might invent a billion-pound app for all I f**king know, but you certainly won’t do it staring into space in the middle of Pret a Manger.
Sometimes, I don’t know why I bother. I bet it took you so long to read this, by the time you finished, any advice I had to offer will have been long forgotten.
Just know this. I will never, ever calm down.
The Impatient Folk of London.
PS: I won’t hold my breath for a response. I dread to think how long it’d take.