(the not-very-long awaited!)
As someone who bumbles around London well after the sun has pissed off to the safety of its flat, presumably up near the Waitrose on Holloway Road because the sun can’t really afford a more central property but hails from the sort of family where shopping at Waitrose is considered the norm, I’m quite good at not being murdered while doing it. So I’d like to give you some advice on walking in cities at night, advice that is to be taken with a pinch of salt, but may actually be useful. Blimey, I’m doing proper advice now.
1) Use headphones to your advantage
If you’re nervous about walking around, don’t wear over-ear headphones, the big clunky ones that cover your whole ears and can’t be worn under a hood. This flags up to potential murderers that you’re likely to be deprived of a sense (sound, which is critical for locating and assessing threats outside of your field of vision), and also affluent enough to afford a stupidly overpriced set of Beats. Conversely, you could use them as a kind of creepy bastard-radar, muting your music to give the impression of idiocy and vulnerability, whereas in reality you’re primed to leg it if that guy who looks like he’s been tailing you for a block makes a move. Although the latter use is generally for ballsy motherfrakkers, so I’d not encourage it.
2) Stick to main roads
This sounds obvious, but light tends to be safer than darkness, and main roads are generally more secure than even cute little residential areas that look harmless during the day. There’s a secondary point here too, that you ought to be confident wherever you walk: attackers tend to lurk in shadows, and so you sticking to them may make yourself vulnerable and make it difficult for a friendly passerby to see you’re in trouble, as opposed to unseen and safe; if you’re stomping up Camden Road in Doc Martens, people are more likely to think you know what you’re doing with yourself, and may avoid you.
3) Dress like a peasant
This may sound like a bit of a contradiction at first – how can I be confident and self-assured if I’m not wearing my favourite jacket?! – but it makes sense; your favourite jacket, while empowering, is encrusted with gold and woven with unicorn pubes, and is a beacon of foolish wealth much like an expensive set of headphones. Generally, dark, baggy attire will help create an aura of ‘I’m angry, young and poor, don’t piss me off’-edness and can disguise your frame if you’re not a particularly well-built individual. Also, this isn’t to moronically de-gender your outfits – everyone knows that wearing a dress doesn’t actually make a person more likely to encounter trouble – as the emphasis is on appearing nondescript and independent, rather than masculine or feminine.
4) Know where you’re going
Getting lost and going for a wander can be marvellous, especially in a fun place and/or with fun people. Just don’t do it at night. I like to march up a main road, then straight back down it again, ensuring I make note or tell others of where I’m heading.
5) Bring a friend
This is the biggest one, and rather covers all the other tips by itself: if you’re with someone, headphones are a non-factor as you’re chatting; you don’t need to make an effort to appear confident as two people have inherently more presence than one; a bodyguard or police-caller is infinitely more effective as a deterrent than a loose hoodie; and you can make even the most tedious of one-way walks amusing with a buddy. Plus, you get to do the whole socialising thing, which is nice, and it’s a decent form of exercise.
Or, you can stay in 24/7 and slowly grow into a lethargic Mario Kart-playing blob. I can attest to the crapness of this latter idea.