Disclaimer: Everyone who writes about London sounds like a wanker.
According to the font of all knowledge, otherwise known as Wikipedia, “London is a leading global city,with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence”
So basically strengths in everything cool.
For me, London has always been a turbulent (I don’t want to say abusive) relationship. As my favourite literary person once said, “London has chewed me up and spit me out.” (Emma, One Day, David Nicholls, 2009.) I couldn’t agree more, every day I stumble out of Whitechapel station my skin greyer than the ash on the end of a cigarette, hair wet, fumbling for my oyster card, which may as well be linked directly to my bank account as it eats up ALL my fucking money.
But then, sometimes small happens. Someone thanks me for giving up my seat on the bus, a poster makes me giggle with a badly spelt word, the girl I see in Sainsbury’s every day says she likes my jacket. And I realise that in London, you can be whoever you want.
Of course, there’s horrendous people who beat other people up on buses because they don’t like what they’re wearing. But, you can be whoever you like. No one will talk to you on the tube no matter what you’re wearing. You can join an evening class and learn how to taxidermy for fuck’s sake. You can learn anything, join a cult, wear basically anything (unless you’re wearing those butt shorts, then you need to GTFO).
People who grumble about London drive me crazy. “The tube is busy”, “the streets are dirty”, “it’s dangerous”, “I can’t afford to breathe the air, let alone to buy a flat” (OK that’s a legitimate concern).
The streets are dirty because you need to take more pride in your fucking crazy ass city, pick up your litter. The tube is busy because it’s freaking awesome and can take you across London quicker than any other mode of transport (save teleportation, but I’m working on that). It’s dangerous because it’s a big old place, but I heard the world’s pretty large too… Take a self defence class, don’t carry a knife and don’t talk to strangers. And the flat one, yeah OK, you might have to rent/ live somewhere a bit pants.
BUT… you get free culture, every weekend, guaranteed. From the British Museum to Whitechapel Gallery to a walk in Crystal Palace Park to oh, fuck it, just go on Time Out. We’ve even got farms here. If you think the tubes too expensive, walk. You’ve got legs, use them.
You get to meet amazing people who tell you stories that break your heart, make you smile or make you want to run in the other direction.
You can eat any type of food you like… I mean, just walk down Brixton high street for any type of cuisine you could possibly want (and a few you probably don’t want).
And you get to be part of this churning, burning, crazy, beautiful, mixed up, confused, sometimes a little broken… city.
I get tired of London, I want to live somewhere it’s dark at night. Where it’s quiet. Where I would work less than 12 hours a day and not earn just about enough to scrap by. Where my rent would not cost over 60% of my pay check.
But then, I go to Oxford Circus at 8.00am when it’s all quiet and sleepy or walk along the Southbank at 8pm with the sun setting, and couples kissing and people happy and light and loosening their ties. Or I walk through Brockwell Park to my favourite walled Garden. I have a really fucking excellent lunch in my favourite cafe in Hackney. And then I realise, all the haters, all the nay sayers… are missing out. Because this is where the party’s out. We do loud, we do crazy, we do all night, but we also do romantic, we do love at first sight. We do it all and we do it best.
If you’re not careful, London will chew you up and spit you out. But that’s OK. It does it to me on a daily basis. If you can’t hack it, go somewhere else. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I sometimes pretend I might go somewhere else. In the same way I sometimes pretend that I’ll go to the gym. Or that I totally won’t buy a Mac again when this one packs up. Like, “Yeah I’d totally be happy living in Cardiff”. But then I remember, I’m in love with this city.
And true love lasts a lifetime.
Brockwell Park Rose Garden ❤