London. Love it or loathe it?

9 Mar

London.  It’s like marmite.  You either love it or you hate it.  (Marmite, not marmots by the way, which is what my iPod amended it to!)  I’ve lived in London since 2000 – eleven years!  Not bad for someone who swore blind they would never live in a big city (too loud, too busy, too grey, too expensive, too anonymous).  My sister – the party girl of the two of us – was the one that would live the high life in the big smoke, whilst I, country bumpkin that I was, would live in a cottage surrounded by fields or preferably trees, and probably gave some form of pond a vegetable garden and space to hang my washing outside without it becoming grey from big city pollution and passing trains.

I’ve been plotting my escape from London for some years now, but my friends live here and my job that I love is here, it’s well connected etc etc but I can’t help being scared by big questions like “Where would I go?”, “What job would I do?” And “But I wouldn’t know anybody would I?”  That’s why this new place that I’m hopefully getting is so great. A 17th century cottage with a huge garden yet only 25 mins from London? I digress, as I still haven’t technically bought it yet…more on that another time.

So, sometimes I hate London and am desperate to get out.  Yet on a day like yesterday, with the sun shining, the air warmer than it has been for some time when I can take the most beautiful walk back from a meeting along the north bank of the River Thames, over London Bridge then along the south bank until I reach Tower Bridge, this view fills me with a real love for the place and an amazement that I’m so lucky to be able to live here and be a part of it.  I always felt London was so big and unfriendly but it is really up to us all as individuals to make it a more friendly place by smiling, being pleasant and passing the time with strangers.  In fact I quite often bump into people I know.  In a city of eight million people that’s pretty amazing!

Then yesterday evening I left a work file in Boots.  I knew I would forget it somewhere so I had to reverse my journey on the train, run back to the shop (which by this point had closed), pound on the door until someone walked up and made a slashing motion at his neck and mouthed “we’re closed”.  “I know that you imbecile!” (inside voice).  I say through the closed door “I’ve left something in your shop!”.  “What?” he mouths.  Me, louder, “I’ve left something in your shop!”.  He still can’t hear me. “I’VE LEFT SOMETHING IN YOUR SHOP!!!” I holler, whilst people around me look away worriedly.  Unbelievably he just shrugs and walks off.   Finally, someone else comes back with it, unlocks the door and passes me the file.  I force a smile through gritted teeth and too tight lips since it’s not his fault.  I decide I hate London.

Ten minutes later I’m back on the train.  It lurches and I fall onto a man next to me who just smiled kindly as I made my apologies.  It’s against london law to touch, look at or speak to strangers in London.  Especially when commuting! In a flash his friendliness makes me fall back in love with the place.

How can you not love the River Thames at night?



5 Responses to “London. Love it or loathe it?”

  1. The Ramblings Of A Demented Mind March 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Is it really true that ‘It’s against london law to touch, look at or speak to strangers in London. Especially when commuting! ‘??? Cos if that’s true Sri Lankans will never survive in London! 😀 😀 😀

    • George March 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

      Hehehe – no, not a real law. It’s an unspoken rule really. If you talk to fellow commuters people often think you’re a bit crazy!

      You’d be more than welcome in London anytime!

  2. Ali March 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Beautiful picture! I think living anywhere has its positive and negative sides and a lot of it depends on the people that you bump into on a certain day (literally in the case if your train man!).

    I often think about moving on from Cambridge, but there are so many things to keep me here and, like you, I think ‘where would I go?’

  3. Paysh May 17, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    I loved it in the 1960 Swinging London! But much to crowded now – mugging hadn’t been invented – there are twice as many people alive now – no sense of community or shared history

    • George June 2, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      Hi Paysh

      Thanks for your comment. You are right that London must be at least twice as busy now as it was back in the sixties (well before my time!) but I do believe that a sense of community and shared history still exists and is being re-invigorated. Fair enough – this is not true of everywhere, but London has definitely got more friendly in the ten years that I been living here (though I can’t take sole credit for that!!) and there are many ongoing projects to bring togetehr older and younger folk to appreciate and understand each other more, bridge the gaps and start to learn and re-learn our shared pasts.

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