Friday, June 12, 2015

Sevenses

In honour of the bitter northerner having lived in London for seven years, here is a list of seven things I love about the big smoke, and seven things I could live without.

It must be love:

  1. Variety. Apparently it's the spice of life, and in London you are surrounded by variety: restaurants serving food from all over the world, festivals and activities encompassing a huge variety of cultures, traditions and religions. You can be anyone you want to be and you will always find kinship somewhere, and on any given day you will hear roughly fourteen different languages being spoken - as long as you leave the house. I love the sounds of all those languages as they combine and overlap. London is diverse and big and tries its best to be all encompassing. 
  2. Vouchers/Offers. All Londonites know that without offers and vouchers, we'd be spending even more nights in on the couch watching Netflix, eating out the remains of the freezer. But alas, there are so many places wanting to give you 50% off food, or 2 for 1 offers on food and drink and even many apps and websites offering cheaper theatre tickets, cinema tickets and discounts on museum and exhibition collections. If you know where to look, you can do most things with a little money off.
  3. Public Transport. It has to be said that the London Transport Network is pretty damn awesome. Even though it is something Londonites love to complain about, we still know we've got a good thing going on. Buses, Trams, DLR, National Rail, Underground, Overground. Wombling Free. Oops. Sorry. Couldn't resist. You really can get around cheaply and speedily - cough cough, except for delays - and even when works are on at the weekend, there's always some way back home, even if it takes two hours on a rail replacement bus. You do a good job TFL and after seven years, a car is still an unnecessary item. Thank you. 
  4. Never A Dull Day. There are about 59,000,000 things to do in London and its surrounding boroughs. You will never run out of things to do, places to go, new restaurants to try, new attractions and entertainment venues and bars. One of the greatest things about London, is the fact that it has all these areas, these little enclaves of life, little towns within themselves, all part of the sprawling mass of London. When friends move into a new area, you go explore, or if a band play in a new venue, you go explore. There are always new places springing up that you've never heard of, and an array of exciting options for a quiet day out, or a loud night out. 
  5. Flat 19/Kentish Town - My Home. The wonderful Flat 19, in Kentish Town has been my home for six and a half of the seven years I've been in London, and I love it. It's my home and the first home my partner and I purchased together, our first step on the property ladder, though we may never get to the second step * see the next list, point 7. We love Kentish Town too, despite the posh invasion, but it keeps us well connected in terms of transport, it has about six supermarket chains as well as some cool independent whole food stores, so you never go hungry, and it's a stone's throw from Hampstead Heath which is great for training runs, nature and generally keeping fit. Mwah, KT we love you! 
  6. Cocktail Happy Hours. Fairly self-explanatory. I love cocktails! And happy hours are the only affordable way to consume alcohol. 
  7. Events. Music events, literary events, YA conferences, new plays and shows, exhibitions and every expo and con you could possibly think of, come through London. I feel like I'm right in the heart of things and I wouldn't have seen Katie Bush four times if I lived elsewhere, would I? And why see her once when you could see her four times? Still buzzing from that, almost a year later. Besides, Tori often plays random one off gigs in London too - *hint hint Tori, come on, announce one.* And all the literary events and panels and conferences keep me linked in with the author world.

I could live without:

  1. Black Bogeys. So you thought bogeys were green? Clearly you've never spent a day in London, riding the tube, inhaling that air. Ahhhh. Breathe it in. Black bogeys you will make. (Incidentally you should google bogey to see how many spellings and meanings it has. I honestly thought it was spelled bogie and just meant miniature balls of dried snot.)
  2. Pedestrian crossings and Cyclists. It's a recurring rant. The vast majority of cyclists do not stop at pedestrian crossings. Some of them still use the freakin' pavement - hello, you are a vehicle. Could you just please stop being dicks. (I know it's not all cyclists, but it is a lot and it's beyond annoying.)
  3. Temperature Difference from Outside to Underground. Yes it's still an issue, even in winter. No matter what temperature it is outside, you need to account for at least a ten degree rise as you descend into the depths of hell - er, I mean onto the Underground platform. In winter, it means stripping off at least two layers and then carting them around uncomfortably. In summer it's a toss-up between nakedness and stripping off layers of your own skin; either that or stew in your clothes and just pretend that bead of sweat is not trailing down your back.
  4. Gentrification of Areas. I understand why this can be a good thing, but it means London is running out of 'cheaper' areas to live, as they keep regenerating these areas and forcing people out. All these new bars and swanky coffee shops are driving up house prices even more than they already are driven, and people are being forced further and further out. No wonder it takes an average of sixty minutes to visit people.
  5. Surprise. When you come to pay for two glasses of wine and realise £15 won't cover it. Ahhhhhh. All bars should have a menu then you take out a loan before you order. 
  6. North/South Divide. It doesn't seem to leave you, no matter where you are in the UK. But in London the divide is: North of the river Vs South of the river. Well obviously North is best - always - but when everyone you know lives South, it kinda sucks, and dinner parties always have to end by 10.30 in order for people to make the last train back. (Although from September we are getting 24 hour tube on Fridays and Saturdays. Whoop!)
  7. House Prices. Well, you can't whinge about London without whining about the leading cause of people leaving the capital: the exorbitant price of actually living here. Renting is abysmal. If we hadn't secured our shared ownership flat over six years ago, we would have either had to move away, or we'd still be sharing will four other people, in some crumbling relic of a house, with one shared bathroom and one shelf in the fridge. It is insane! And something needs to be done, because people want to live here, but it is almost impossible unless you bag yourself a millionaire in which case you might afford a three bedroom flat - no garden or parking space. Or maybe if you inherit something. Or, maybe win the lottery or something????? I can't think of any other way. 
So there you have it. Of course, there are loads more things I like and loathe about London, but all in all it is a great place to live and somewhere I regard as home. After seven years I think I can class myself as a Londoner or Londonite - the term I prefer, but as my northern friends jest, I will never be a Southerner. My heart was made and nurtured up North and no matter how much time I spend down here, my heart beats Northern blood. 

Big love London. But you have to keep annoying me or the rants will dry up. 

Rants 

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