Tuesday, February 15, 2011

good at preparing? maybe not.

So: I have been invited to interview at the Royal College of Art.

In London.

I bought a plane ticket and booked a hostel today.


And you know, it's not even the interview so much (though there is that?) It's more that London is, for me, like New York, like Boston, like Paris were for me -- it is a place that you dream about and read about and wonder about, but not a place you go. To finally comprehend it as an ordinary city occupied by ordinary people, even so ordinary as the people found in Missouri Valley or Omaha, is beyond surreal.

So there is that.

But, there is also this. And I suppose on some level it's probably really unhealthy to freak myself out over crime rates? But, I just want to know. I would rather be a twitchy tourist and wear everything close to my body in a perfectly safe area than be overly comfortable and lose yet ANOTHER camera.* Too, I want to have some idea of how tense I'm going to be on a regular basis -- I'm not sure how excited I will be if the school is located in an area that doesn't feel like I could let down my guard and still be safe.

I know that I am being somewhat unreasonable, even -- perhaps! -- wildly paranoid. I mean, hell, I went to New York by myself for three days with nary a turned hair.

But, I also went to New York before I had been mugged. That memory of being grabbed around the throat has faded, but it's still there, and I have a feeling it's going to affect the way I travel and prepare for travel for a long, long time.

So let us do some statistical exploration, SHALL WE?

First, we have "general crime" in London. I'm not sure why the one area doesn't show statistics? As you might guess, the red is HIGH, or BAD, the orange is KIND OF HIGH, or STILL KIND OF BAD, and the yellow is AVERAGE, or WATCH YOUR DAMN PURSE. The RCA is the purple dot next to Hyde Park. (For reference, Westminster, which is the borough that the RCA is in [actually the borough that comprises most of this map, I think], had a crime rate for December 2010 of 28 crimes per 1000 people. Knightsbridge and Belgravia, the smaller ward which the RCA is in, had a crime rate of about 15 crimes per 1000 people. The wards of St. James and the West End, which make up those large angry red blobs, had crime rates of 148 and 226 crimes per 1000 people, respectively.)

But what does "general crime rates" tell me about my likelihood of having my camera stolen? NOT MUCH. So, I went to "personal robbery" rates. Blue is LOW CRIME, or WE ARE PRETTY OKAY HEREABOUTS. This looks slightly better, though you will notice that the tourist areas are still pretty well covered with red! Unfortunate! (In Westminster, the personal robbery rate was about 1 crime per 1000 people; Knightsbridge & Belgravia, less than 1 crime per 1000 people; St. James and West End, about 5 and 6 crimes per 1000 people.)

But truly, what I REALLY want to know is what my chances are of being grabbed around the throat and choked to unconsciousness! So, let us look at the rates of "all violence." Well! That looks about the same! Not surrounding the purple dot (good!) but there is a large sad blob over there to the east! (Westminster had an "violent crimes against a person" rate of between 3 and 4 crimes per 1000 people. K & B, 2/1000; St. James and West End, 20/1000! What's up with that? UPSETTING. Though in London's defense, "all violence" can apparently include less physical crimes such as "intimation of violence." Still not good, though!)

But you know, it would also be awfully good to know how likely I am to really get hurt, so I looked at a map of "most serious violence." I'm not sure what this term actually means, except that it includes murder, and two other vaguely defined forms of harm! Pleasingly the RCA is located in a blue "WE ARE PRETTY OKAY" area, with no serious violence reported in December 2010. In St. James and the West End there were slightly more than 1 seriously violent crimes per 1000 people in December 2010.

So! There you have it! A craptastic and brief assessment of crime that will likely do me no good at all in actually traversing London, other than putting my mind at rest that yes, I did read the material available to me.

*As of right now, I've lost one camera to rain in Shikouku and one to muggers in Madrid. Not a great record.

No comments:

Post a Comment