I had a conversation with someone a couple of weeks ago and it’s still rattling around in my head. He had moved to London from New York and we were discussing the differences between the two cities, along with other comparable world cities.
I found myself really criticising London’s infrastructure, its weather, its people…before I realised what I was doing. I’ve lived in the UK for fifteen years now and only two weeks ago did I realise I’ve absorbed the British apologist attitude. Starting sentences with “I’m sorry” and looking sheepish when someone points out that something isn’t perfect.
I was actually playing down how fabulous London is.
I quickly backtracked and started to list all the things that are great about London, especially when compared to other places. Its historic buildings, the river than runs through its middle, its diverse population and the very, very different neighbourhoods that combine to make London.
I spent Friday evening on the South Bank with an old friend I’d not seen in over ten years. He was visiting from Newcastle and we enjoyed a wander, a meal, another wander and then a walk back to Waterloo station. For me, it was a little snapshot of what’s so great about London. There was a free music festival taking place at the Royal Festival Hall, underneath which we enjoyed some sushi, after which we walked by the river.
All the time enjoying a distinct lack of rain and some fading early evening sunshine.
London is actually a fairly excellent place to live. Now that I think about it, even considering my many and varied gripes, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live. I’d put up with poor transport infrastructure (which, to be fair, is getting slightly better), terribly unpredictable weather (I’ll go abroad for consistent sunshine on my holidays) and hugely inflated prices for everything. Speaking in a purely personal capacity, I love it.
If London really is so terrible, why do so many people, from all corners of the world, come to make it their home? If it’s such a cesspit, why do millions of tourists flock here every year?
Because it’s not terrible. It’s an ancient city, creaking a bit under the strain of accommodating so many people and so many cars and new buildings. But it’s continuing to evolve and I’m happy to be living here during such an exciting time.