I have just returned from a great two weeks travelling in Ontario, Canada. A holiday, or any sort of break from normality, often allows us to see things differently and one of the most noticeable differences I left Canada thinking about was the number of strangers I spoke to during my two week trip. Now, I accept that when you are travelling you may have more need to speak to ‘strangers’ – hotel staff for instance – but it was more than just that. It may sound like nothing, but during the first week, two people asked me what the time was. I cannot even remember the last time anyone asked me the time in the UK! I am ashamed to say that the first time it happened, I almost felt like I was about to be tricked somehow. As if I might pull out my phone to get the time, and promptly have it stolen. In reality, the girl really did just want to know what the time was.
I think it is such a shame that in the UK we are losing these random face-to-face interactions. I’m not sure how we ‘recover’ them although I’m off to go and read more about the role of social and public spaces.