Ok, so lets get it out there in the open – I hate London. (Dramatic pause while all Londoners throw their saucepans at my image, walk out the room and go off to plot my death…ok they’re gone). There is very little to nothing I like about the place. Why does everyone get so doe eyed about the place? It’s got to a level in society, media and friends/collegues that I feel I owe it to the nation and the world to remind you all that London is not all sunshine and rainbows (well, it is a fair bit of the time annoyingly – ruddy micro climates and weather systems).
From all the self-help guides, music and media I’m led to believe the best way to voice anger and information is through lists. Miley did it through song:
Hollywood did it via a Shakespeare rom-com adaptation:
(“Who is your celeb crush?”
“But isn’t he dead…?”
“Not in my dreams”)
…And heck Buzzfeed seem to have made a business model of lists like these:
Based on this I thought I’d
vent explain the ten reasons why I strongly dislike London. So, in no particular order…
- The London Underground, alias “The Tube”
Even looking at the map above makes me feel dizzy. A friend once said to me “it’s like a bus, you get on at one stop and you get off somewhere else.” But it’s not like that, it’s getting on at one station, going along three stops, getting off, finding the right line to get to (and that’s if you know where you’re going), get potentially crushed by other people, get freaked out by signs telling you pickpockets are everywhere*, get onto another train and eventually you end up getting from point A to point B or maybe point M. By the time you arrive at ground level you’ve forgotten or given up hope of getting to B.
My friend made a recent journey more fun by getting me to spot stations on the map on the Tube “Hey, Alice, where is Notting Hill on the map?” “……….there” “well done!” But it still didn’t detract from the fact I had to metaphorically hold my friend’s hand the whole time I travelled through London. I mean, even the locals don’t always take their underground seriously:
*This paranoia is more linked to me than anyone. Where I’m from in the countryside people have more trusting faces and there are fewer of them. In London, everyone is too keen to get into your personal space. In the countryside this is a privilege you earn after hosting several dinner parties and then watching Sue’s son in the Shipston armature dramatics performance of Boeing-Boeing.
2. House prices (buying and renting) So expensive to live there
Quite topical at the moment, given someone has put the space under their stairs up for rent for £500 per month. The prices of London’s housing is forever baffling and annoying to me.
“Tonight on Location, Location, Location we’re in London, trying to find Tom and Sarah the one bed flat of their dreams on a £400,000 budget. It’s going to be a struggle, but lets see what magic I can do.”
Yes I know what magic you can perform Kirsty, tell them to move to somewhere other than frigging London. Jesus, I mean seriously, why? Why has it been allowed to get to such a level? Keep your stupidly overpriced properties, I’m happy to sit in my mansion on a throne made of cash bundles coated in gold.
3. It’s so expensive to get there
£45.10 to get from Swindon to London Paddington (without a rail card). I’m sorry London, you’re not that special. If you’re going to charge that much at least have the decency to provide us with toilets for free.
I mean seriously.
(Reading, you’re just as bad with charging passengers more just because their journey goes go via you). I don’t care how fancy your new station is, it’s not that great. Really, it isn’t.
Your guys think London is the best God-dam place in the world and so many of you will not hear a single word against it. If I went into a pub and exclaimed London was a pile of poop (or words to that effect), I’d expect to get a right earful or be chucked out. If a Londoner came to Swindon and said the same phrase no one would bat an eyelid. Sure, if you also announced you lived in Notting Hill and that you had your butler waiting outside you may get a different reaction to “Swindon is a dive”, but my point still stands. Londoners, it may shock you but not everyone wishes and dreams they could live in a London tower block in Zone 6. This leads me onto my next point…
5. The whole world doesn’t revolve around London
Oh my goodness, when will London realise there is a world outside the M25? Everything HAS to happen or HAS to be in London. Theatre, exhibitions, politics. Yes, there are things going on outside London but a) they always seem disproportionate compared to the capital and b) they don’t get the air time. Papa Bennett complains every week The Telegraph only advertises London events in the ‘What’s On’ section, the national weather always seems to linger on the weather for the South East as if it’s the only area of Britain that’s inhabited and the only time I ever see politicians outside of London is either for their political conferences or because somewhere has been flooded.
The police woman’s face says it all.
6. Borris Johnson
This guy runs London:
Now I find Borris as funny as the next person. I could watch this speech all day:
But at the end of it I can go to bed and think “thank goodness he’s not in charge of my town/city”.
7. Train Stations
This is really one linked just to me, but the local train station to my family is a small, unmanned, affair with two platforms. When I first went to Paddington to meet with some friends this station only had one platform, so with my poor knowledge of train stations I assumed a super big station such as Paddington would have three platforms. It was only when I got to London I realised Paddington actually has about 12. A combination of my lost country-girl face and my platform theory had them in stitches for days.
8. First or last to get things – when it suits them
Examples here: London was the last place to get Freeview (digital) television as standard, about three years after it was first integrated into Scotland and Northern England. My theory is that this would bring up and resolve and technical issues those outside the capital faced so London could have a smooth transition when digital came to them.
Another example: According to Wikipedia London was the first place in the United Kingdom to get electricity. Ok, ok, so I struggled to come up with an example but put it this way, I’m sure Londoners will be the first to travel around on hover boards when they’re invented.
9. Expectation that all jobs are there
Many careers talks/fairs I’ve attended imply all the good jobs and companies are based in the South East of England and to get a good job is to move to London. While I agree a lot of companies are located in the city, I am always frustrated by the number of young people that pack up their bags and settle for a poorer standard of life in the hopes of making it big in London. More jobs/companies should be encouraged to have offices in places such as the North of England or the South West for example. Having everything in London only drains these areas of young, intellectual, people and makes the economic imbalance in Britain all the more worse. (Just my opinion…)
10. Pollution, pollution everywhere!
Air, noise and light in particular. I’m told that when you live for a long period of time in London one gets used to sirens at 4am or drilling at 8am on a Sunday. I tell these people that where my family home is hearing a siren at all is a big deal. To their surprised faces I then up it a notch by telling them it’s stone silent at night and that if you screamed there is a good chance no one would hear you. Their reactions are priceless.
In terms of light pollution I always wonder how Londoners cope not being able to see the stars at night. For me it is something I just cannot comprehend, I’d be lost in so many ways if I was told I could never see a starry night again. I once had a London friend stay over and I flippantly commented “it’s a nice clear night tonight.” He looked up at the sky and stood there in awe. It had never crossed my mind that not everyone can look at the stars with their own eyes.
Air pollution needs no further explanation. I dislike it, but even I acknowledge it is a necessary by-product of urbanisation.
Ok, so a very, very ranty piece on London. As you’ve probably guessed by now I’m not a big fan of the place. Still I’m prepared to admit it has the occasional upside. For example, Strictly Come Dancing is filmed in London and this dance number occurred on the show/in London:
I will always make time for Jeremy Vine dancing to September.