1. You’ve stopped caring about the muck that comes out of your face
It’s now part of your daily routine to loosen all the dirt particles after you get home from work – like deseeding a sad passion fruit. Go ahead, blow your nose. Cough a little. Spit what you cough up into a tissue. Look at it (for some reason). Is this what you really want for yourself? Could you not do with a day off from black snot and wondering if your lungs are flaking apart like wet cardboard?
2. You sigh when someone faints on the tube
‘For goodness’ sake,’ you mutter to yourself, when a fellow passenger folds like a melted lipstick and slips down the pole – somehow still managing to clutch their bag closed against thieves. Wait! Stop and think a moment about what you’ve become. A trip outside the city might remind you how to care about other people’s well-being – and that summer doesn’t have to be spent in a boiling hot tube of steel underground.
3. You know it’s sunny but you haven’t seen the sky in weeks
The sun’s getting in your eyes, but only because it’s bouncing off the windows of towering office blocks, making real life look like a lens-flare-packed Michael Bay film. You can tell it’s up there somewhere because bald heads and exposed cleavages around you are either red and tight or leathery-looking. But when was the last time you actually saw the thing? Or even the blue bit around it?
4. You’re suspicious of large bodies of water
In other parts of the country a river is something to fling yourself into with the abandon of a happy dog. But if someone said to you ‘Meet me on the banks of the Thames’, you’d probably think they were going to garrotte you. And that’s not even the most off-putting thing about London’s largest watercourse. Let’s face it, if a drop of Thames water touched you, you’d be as worried as in the days waiting for your STD test to come back after a fortnight in Magaluf.
5. You think a fiver is okay for a pint of beer
It’s not. It’s too expensive, isn’t it? So why don’t you think that’s too expensive!? And it doesn’t stop there. Have you seen how much it costs to get fish and chips, hire a boat or buy a couple of ice creams from a van in London (also a fiver – and you have to stand in a queue full of children named Hugo)? Head out of the city for a day, and you might even make a saving.
6. You’re checking your work emails in the park
‘I’m so lucky that I can be in this park while I touch base with the office,’ you lie to yourself. You’re not lucky. Because it’s Sunday, and your most urgent actionable goal should be buying a Fab. Here’s the truth: in order to really, properly relax, you will have to leave London. Because once you’re 20 minutes out of Victoria you’ll already feel content enough to start ignoring your clients (who are only trying to please their clients) and using your phone solely for Instagram.
7. You just find it hard to relax
Of course you do. Look around! Everyone’s crowded on to the roofs of multi-storey car parks or jostling inside painted lines on pavements outside pubs or sitting with their legs dangling over the edge of the canal in Camden, exchanging eye-rolls with the teenagers a few metres away. These folk (let’s call them Londoners) are in your bars, on your tube and in your house. They’re everywhere, all trying to think where they can go that won’t be packed out with loads of other people. If you got talking to them, they could be your best friends rather than competitors for the last picnic table in the pub garden. And that’s possibly the reason why you came to love this city in the first place. Take a quick break from London, and you won’t just find space – you’ll remind yourself that you have somewhere wonderful to come back to.
By Alice White
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