Optimistic resilience

The UK is a place of optimistic resilience. Brits are able to endure hardship with enviable cheerfulness and never is this better demonstrated than on the various forms of their public transport. Like many British commuters, I rely on a service that attempts to pack half the population of the west into an hourly relic of inadequate capacity, loosely referred to as a train. As you can imagine, getting a seat involves stealth, luck, a fair bit of passive aggression and circus skills. If you do manage to sit down, the etiquette is to smile at the passenger next to you in a way that communicates your shared discomfort, before politely averting your eyes to your phone/book for the rest of the journey. This is unless a further inconvenience occurs, as happened last week. Our train went through a particularly ferocious rainstorm and the windows – left open to allow small amounts of oxygen to filter in – turned into ship’s portholes. Obviously the first correct British response to this was to ignore it. Attempts to close the windows followed and failed. Then optimistic resilience kicked in. ‘Rather wet than too warm!’ The woman next to me chirpily announced. On seeing that my laptop was getting soaked (her own newspaper had returned to pulp by this point) she offered to erect her umbrella over the two of us, which in turn made me enter full on British thankyouI’mfinebutthankyouthankyou mode, insisting that I too found the rain ‘uplifting’. She nodded approvingly and dug inside her handbag, pulling out a can of gin and tonic. ‘Could be worse!’ She smiled and returned to peeling her sodden newspaper pages apart, sitting in a growing puddle and drinking her warm gin with two hours of cattle-transportation-like conditions to go – one happy, resilient Brit.

optimistic resilience