It's beginning to feel a lot like January. Early mornings no longer come accompanied by obligatory slithers of advent calendar chocolate. The lift at work now requires the uncomfortable 'good new year?' conversations that you would happily brave 10 flights of stairs just to avoid. And the weather outside... well, it's just pure frightful and nobody is making a song or dance about it. But for the London commuter, January brings with it a much more vicious and ferocious beast than a few Facebook updates from Jen about how 2014 is her year (and that her cheating boyfriend can go to hell). Allow me to introduce to you, the January sales-seekers, otherwise known as the most horrible people you will come across in January (maybe).
Let's begin with the family of four, or as I like to call them, 'the avoidables'. With children most likely around the ages of eight and five, the avoidables are commonly seen walking hand-in-hand in a line that spans from one side of the pavement to the other. They won't know where they're going. Sometimes the excitable family chooses this opportunity to let their youngest child roam free and explore the populous streets of London, drifting in and out of the route of the frustrated office worker as they pop to Sainsbury's to buy a meal deal. When they're not forcing passers-by into the route of a bus, they can be commonly found surrounding the entrance of a busy tube station, where they remain until they attempt to find Harrods again.
Next there's the woman on a mission, or as I like to call her, 'the avoidable'. She knows what sales January has to offer, and by god, she's getting all she can. There's no common place for this breed of sales-shopper, as every shop window is a window of opportunity. The avoidable is most likely to be carrying an array of large, protruding bags likely to cause injury and is prone to halting suddenly in her tracks as she spots a deal in the corner of her eye. Those who suddenly stop should be monitored with caution.
Who can forget the romantics? Or as I like to call them, 'the avoidables'. Fresh from the frolics of festive love, the couple is yet to shake away the mistletoe that was once so elegantly Instagrammed on Christmas Day. Each walkway, doorway, entrance, exit, staircase, escalator and till point is an opportunity for the expression of their love. Like the family of four, the couple is bound by the holding of hands, in a bond so strong that no commuter, bicycle or 'stand on the right hand-side of the escalator' can tell them otherwise. If you're lucky enough to spot the avoidables sharing a lingering kiss in the distance, abort operations immediately and re-think your route, your gag-reflex and meticulously planned manoeuvrings will only suffer.
Like on most days of the year, you will also be met with the handfuls of tourists, or as I like to call them, 'the avoidables.' Armed with an expensive camera, numerous bags from Liberty and the somewhat mesmerising skill of finding beauty in all that surrounds them (otherwise known as taking photos of absolutely anything). Watch out for an extended arm as they frantically turn to take a photo of the red bus going past the telephone box situated next to 'The Very London Shop' located next to a homeless man.
And finally, there is but one more loathed group that reigns mighty in the midst of January madness. A group of people that we, the humble workers of central London, admire and yet fear all at the same time.
... The workers of central London, otherwise known as the 'Leave me alone/get out of the way/HOW do you not have your Oyster card on you?' avoidables. Whilst we may tut in harmony as we struggle through the families, shoppers, romantics and tourists, our own ruthless agenda is both our triumph and our downfall as we slightly 'shoulder brush' the woman standing on the escalator, just so she knows she's edging a bit too much to the left for our liking.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that the only thing to fear is fear itself. He was wrong. You should always fear a London commuter. And the rising train fares.