By Jennifer Kavanagh
One of the pleasant challenges of walking around the busier parts of Fitzrovia is managing our encounters with strangers. Have you noticed the subtle interweaving as we walk down the street? Meeting or not meeting others’ eyes. Gently moving to right and left to allow others space: giving a wider berth to pushchairs or people with disabilities needing more space.
We defer to builders carrying heavy loads, dodge the street sweeper’s broom or shovel, calculate whether we can get by before the delivery man wheels groceries into a nearby store. Occasionally someone strides ahead without wavering, as if the pavement in front of him is free of human encumbrance, but this feels like an isolated discourtesy in our interconnected world.
Our journeys are complicated by shifting obstructions such as road works, pavements dug up to allow access to electricity, water or gas companies or, less acceptably, by drinkers outside pubs, eaters outside cafes, who claim the pavement space like freehold owners, while we step into the ditch.
But mobile phone users are in a quite special category: not only ears to phones, but eyes on texts as they walk down the corridors of their outdoor office, completely unaware of people in their way. What we need is a special mobile lane, so that the rest of us can get on with our gently peripatetic lives.