Friends and flakes

One of the many reasons I moved to London was to be closer to my nearest and dearest, and indeed, I’m lucky in that I either live with them, or they live within a 10 minute radius of my house. Which is super. I’ve met a few new people since I’ve been down here, and I’m working on meeting more too. Excellent. But this weekend I was introduced to a concept that has left me pondering the nature of friendships: convenience. And it’s not what you think.

On Saturday night we had a housewarming party. It was brilliant. The house was suitably trashed and everyone had a really good time. Someone even graffitied ‘Rach is so hot’ onto the wall in the downstairs toilet (yeah, thanks for that). I was particularly pleased because I got to see a lot of the friends I’d left behind in Bristol, because they all bothered their arses to trek across the country to see me. I even had folk from Bournemouth, Essex and Oxford make an appearance. It was great to catch up, and I was really flattered that they’d made such an effort to come. One of them even wore a kilt. I don’t know why. It was cool, though.

Now, contrast this with some of the people my housemates invited. People who live in London – a couple of them only a few Tube stops away – who were no-shows. This, according to housemate L, is a common capital trend, also known as ‘London Flakiness’, where on the face of it, it would seem that convenience is somehow inversely proportional to likelihood of attendance.

But why? From the horse’s mouth (so to speak), housemate L, who has been living in London for a few years now, says:

“I think this flakiness thing stems from people being deluged with choices every single day. Constantly having everything on your doorstep or within an easy Tube ride makes it easy to think you have so many options to choose from, so you don’t have to make any effort.”

And I’m inclined to agree. I suppose if you feel like the world’s your oyster then you can afford to take a more blasé attitude towards exploring it. But what about your relationships with others? One of my friends, N, moved to London last summer, much to the delight of his mate S, who also lives in the city. Plans were made and much hypothesising about potential adventures took place. But how often have they seen each other? Maybe two, three times. In fact, since N moved, they’ve probably seen each other more in their hometown of Manchester than they have in London. And they’re within easy Tube distance of one another. Ditto my housemates and some of their city-based friends.

Would this be the case if we were talking about a different city? Somewhere a bit smaller and less sprawling? Or is it just the ‘London way’ of thinking? I wonder, if any of my friends moved further away how often would I see them? Or would I become the London flake, thinking ‘Ah, it’s fine. We live in the same city. Maybe next week’, and then turn my attention to the zillions of other things (‘options’, as L says) I could do instead?

I hope not.





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3 responses to “Friends and flakes

  1. Did you find the cock behind the mirror? Heh.

  2. Frankie


    Just wanted to further add to you evidence supporting the ‘London Flakiness” theory. I definitley have experienced it from both sides and live with a Londoner who is notorious for it.

    I think ideally to avoid it you do need to be living in close proximity to your London buddies, something im currently working on otherwise you can find it hinders your social life. Tres Uncool.

  3. em

    I live in Leeds. 5 mins from one of the boys from my group of friends.
    Yet the last time I saw him was at a party in Sheffield and I can guarantee that I wont see him until the end of this month at a party in Manchester.
    I am usually good with seeing people, but there is something that stops dave and I meeting, even when the boyf is here and they’re friend too
    Maybe London makes people worst, but i think its countrywide.

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