London's FinestIssue: Section:
I left England at 19 years old and have never really lived there since. After roaming the world for a few years I landed and settled in New York City, a place that is extremely cultured, yet also rather crass. New York City has a take no prisoners kind of energy that can either make it or break it for you as a place to live. It is very loud 24 hours a day. There is always someone yelling about something somewhere nearby. Of course it is charming in its own way but also a little brutal on your senses after a while.
So when I go home now - if I can still call it that after living more than half my life away - I find everyone so terribly polite and the pace rather mellow in what feels a very considered way. The padded fabric seat cushions on the London underground, the rather unassuming policemen who are very kind and friendly when asking directions, the underground workers who help you purchase tickets seem rather too eloquent for the job. And you always know it is a Sunday, stores are closed and the streets are empty as if no one would consider shopping being needed every day of the week. But, most of all it struck me just how polite and beautifully presented some of the language on the street signs was. The US is a land of immigrants, signs are written in a very basic way, lots of abbreviated simplified language that make it feel like someone is yelling it at you - "Wrong Way", "No Children or Pets Allowed"' - or often just symbols alone, certainly the word "please" is rarely included.
So, when entering Victoria Park in London for a stroll this summer and a sign read "Considerate Cycling Welcomed" it made me smile.