6
Aug 04

Human traffic

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Human traffic — I was a deluded young man. I was in England, in London, it was 1992. I waited to cross a London street. “All will be politeness and serenity here, no jaywalking or rude drivers or anything like that.” I didn’t think it quite like that, but I’m sure I vaguely suggested something in my brain along those lines.

Well, lies. Lights in London are acknowledged but not universally approved of or considered. Red lights for pedestrians are, indeed, signals to cross now, to avoid getting squashed when the green lights appear instead. Or so I believe, based on what I was able to figure out.

London embraces car and pedestrian traffic so much because, I think, it is incredibly unsuited for the former and wishes to distress and amuse the latter. The last time I was there made me realize when I returned how huge and wide American streets are, or at least can be. That’s an LA suburb for you. In London Old Hatmonger Lane has been laid down in tradition and mud since the Great Cat Disaster of 1658 (Pepys in his diary: “Observed 6 Toms and their Mates being Trodden On by Followers of Cromwell, due to the Vicious Animals having stated in Dremes that They would Steal the breath of Honest Citizens in the name of the Accurs’d Charles the Younger“) — it could be torn up or revamped or laid out again in a different way, but even when the damn place burned down in the Great Fire they all wanted their warrens back, so they could die of plagues.

Thus, sweet little old ladies climbing over vehicles apparently stalled in the middle of roads, and cheery expressions of good faith and friendliness shouted at loud volume as cars test their braking capabilities while bodies only slightly fly through nearby windows. Perhaps I exaggerate the last part. As for me, I have learned to be adept with my stepping when I really need to cross that street to catch the one train.

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