A tube journey – no eye contact and no conversation, everyone trying to ignore everyone else. The emptiness filled by the noisy clunking of the train, and the swaying of people as it stops and starts.
Until three exuberant women break the rules by talking to complete strangers. They unpack their bags, take out colouring books, pens and string and move quickly about the carriage. The books are strung up and left to dangle temptingly – who would like to colour in?
Heads are mostly down, but some rise up – some even brave eye contact.
One young besuited man (initially hesitant, but game) is given a fairy tale castle to brighten with colour. He chooses pink and purple and red, apologises for his efforts, but beams at the praise he receives. He tears off his page, and hands the book to his neighbour. He tells her: it’s quite good fun actually.
One of the #craftmoves pioneers explains what it’s all about: using craft to combat loneliness in London and connect people. She then elbows the man sitting next to her who is pretending to be asleep. He opens his eyes with a smile – he’s too shy to accept the crafting challenge, but seems to like being awake in a warmer, brighter place.
By London Bridge the whole carriage is together, colouring and chatting and laughing. And as she talks, one of the #craftmoves team makes wool bracelets in orange which she hands out as gifts.
The guy in the suit stands up to depart, says a polite thank you, and adds that he’s going to give his girly castle picture to his boss.
This is a sprint week for #craftmoves – they are currently experimenting with how best to bring people together as part of the #lonelinesslab initiative.
Good luck loneliness-fighting #craftmoves angels. Not that you need it. People won’t be able to resist your humanity.