Londonist has learnt with relief that London’s Community Wardens are to be taught to smile. Well, they are at least to be taught stuff
other than marshalling resentful kids, scribbling reports on graffiti and harassing shopkeepers who infringe on the pavements 1cm too far.
The London Development Agency is to train 200 or so of our boys (and gels) in blue (and red and black and yellow) to be nice to tourists, with a view to improving the ratings in 2012. This follows a number of reports over the last year implying that Londoners in general are simply not ready to be nice to lots of foreign sports fans, and that we really don’t have the urban people skills to deal with a major tourist influx.
Now Community Wardens are for the most part a pretty good thing. There are fewer nastinesses on the streets since they came into being, our town centres are cleaner, and we are sure that they are doing lots of jobs (involving little old ladies and lost doggies) that were previously wasting police time. But they do seem to be a pretty militant bunch, unwilling to do tasks that are even a tad outside their job description. And they are certainly neither jolly enough nor vested with sufficient local knowledge.
It is admittedly easy to use them as human polyfilla, doing all the jobs that fall outside the remit of other civic bods – but Londonist believes that getting them to act as tourist guides and fluffing visitors a bit more should have been part of the package from day one.
Actually, Londonist thinks that London is rather a nice bunch of people on the whole. It is easy to diss the city – it is part of the pre-Olympics panic that is giving journalists such a good run at the moment. We might get a little cross with the map waving tourists standing in the middle of the pavement, and we might regard some of the travelling stereotypes as objects of fun, but when push comes to shove, I reckon we will all be ready to shoulder ambassador status.
Image courtesy of jez’s flickr photo stream.