London has been blighted with free newspapers in the last few years. At first it was Metro, a free morning newspaper that is left in huge piles at the entrance to most tube stations and often found in smaller piles for you to help yourself to in the bulky-luggage spaces on-board London’s buses. And then, a few years later (a couple of years ago), the Metro was joined by another couple of free-sheets called The London Lite and The London Paper, which are normally distributed by (seemingly) foriegn-student hander-outers standing outside Central London tube stations and busy thoroughfares.
And so, with a glut of free newspapers being distributed and handed-out to commuting Londoners, there is little excuse for not having something to read on the way to work and on the way home. However, in my humble opinion, these free-sheets are slightly irritating. They carry “disposable” news, and they are disposed of indiscriminately all over the transport systems, causing unsightly mess and feeding the public’s brains with sensation, doom and celebrity-gossip. And therefore very little in terms of literary or journalistic value. Still, the majority of the travelling public seem to love’em so one can’t be too critical I suppose.
Anyway, one thing that I’ve noticed is the intensity of competition between London Lite and London Paper in the evenings: as I said, they employ “hander-outers” who have an extremely assertive manner of handing out the free papers to passers by on the streets outside train/tube stations and “high-human-traffic” pavements. Not only do they thrust these papers in your way as you walk by, hoping you’ll take one, but they also seem to cause major human congestion as they occupy considerable space standing there with arms outstretched. But you can’t help but admire their persistence in doing so; often chanting in weird-accented fashion, the name of the paper.
The other day I noticed one of the hander-outers undertaking some kind of strange “slapping” ritual whilst handing out his papers:
(Taken with my cameraphone outside Tottenham Court Road tube station near Centre Point.)