Every stranger is a new friend you haven’t met yet which means I have 8 million potential new buddies out there on the streets of London. I have waited seven years now for all my new London mates to come and befriend me but sadly, I am still waiting. Yep, when it comes to Londoners I’m a real Billy no Mates.
In my old life in that small village of Sheffield I seemed to make friends all the time. I went to this club called the Republic (it later became Gatecrasher and then died in a fire. RIP), would talk to some people, Friendships were formed and I saw them regularly around Sheffield with hardly any planning or organisation necessary.
In one case, a girl I used to randomly talk to in Gatecrasher turned up at my house party as she was a friend of a friend’s friend who also knew my friend from school. One thing led to another and 10 years, four holidays, laughter, tears and countless bottles of red wine later she is one of the witnesses at my wedding.
In London it doesn’t seem to work like that. I have been on many fun nights out and met some brilliant people. We have a great laugh and then we vanish out of each other’s lives never to be seen again.
Brand new people, friends of friends, they all disappear off into the great void of London or become a friend on Facebook I end up deleting because it’s seems a bit sad to be “friends” with someone you had a great time at a party with…once.
Native Londoners are different. I have inside information via my girlfriend and can confirm they have solid friendships with other Londoners – she has known her circle of friends since school. I have met some brilliant people through her, but it’s the first time I have got to know any real Londoners.
So what about befriending other non-Londoners like me? Well there are definitely a few ex work colleagues I consider to be good friends. When I first moved to London I simply could not believe my work colleagues went out drinking with each other after work. I didn’t get why, after spending 40 hours of the week together, they would then want to hang out socially.
I then realised that everyone in London drinks with their work colleagues. It took me about three months before I was organising weekly trips to the pub myself. It’s because you need a drink STRAIGHT AWAY when you finish, and all your other mates are out drinking with their work colleagues a long way away so it’s better the devil you know and all that.
London offices are stressful, and people need to stand outside on pub pavements, clutching a beer, talking about their stressful jobs and smoking heavily despite the fact they don’t usually smoke.
Work nights out share similarities but are vitally different from networking. It’s an unwritten law of London that what happens on a work night out stays on a work night out and does not count against you in the office, which is lucky as I got a little amorous with one of my new colleagues in my current job and accidentally pushed her over and broke her ankle… on my second day.
Aside from work colleagues I have some other great friends here, all of whom I met in Sheffield, through friends from Sheffield, through my girlfriend or are people I used to date. I love my friends dearly but have decided I have got lazy and it’s high time I went out and found a few of those millions of new London pals.
Recent accomplishments have been:
- I Facebooked one of my fellow freelance writers and asked about her holiday
- I borrowed a screwdriver from the man in the flat downstairs
- A woman in a full face and body burka winked at me through the tiny postbox slit for her eyes when she spotted me holding hands with my girlfriend in Regents Park.
It’s a start at least. “Slowly slowly catchy monkey” as my dear friend Jimbles says.