No duvets, pillows or desperation
Throughout London, there are signs and warnings indicating what not to do. It's the antithesis to Latin America, where you breathe, eat and sleep at your own risk, without warning of actual and imminent danger.
Some warnings I appreciate – keep left, look right – because I'm still new to the reversed flow of this culture. But others are universal common sense – basic warnings, and the privilege of a country where the most dangerous animals are knife-wielding children and my neighbours in Brixton.
I used to find it unsettling to think anyone needed to be reminded that there's wheat in Shredded Wheat, that children shouldn't play on scaffolding, and that old people can be slow. It bothered me that authorities express so little faith in the capacities of the kingdom's occupants that there are even expiry dates on fruit.
One morning, on my way to work, I came to understand the value of stating the obvious. No longer happy with my job – overwhelmed, exhausted, dissatisfied and numbed by ibuprofen – I read the warning on the hatch of a dank, dark charity drop-off bin along the way:
Do not enter.
And for a moment – faced with another day working for a motivational life coach with colossal and unrealistic expectations – I was thankful for this particular statement of the obvious, because I'd considered it.