Tuesday, 9 March 2010

London is a Nightmare, but Coming Home is Worse

"It's lovely that you see London as a holiday", a friend said to me on Saturday as I gingerly sipped my Fosters in a Soho bar; I had noted that previous drinkers in the same pub had been Mozart and George Orwell. Taken over by a double whammy of awe and hostility (us Northerners can't really express complex emotions) I replied something along the lines of it being about 400 fucking times better than the slum that I called my home. What I meant to say was "Of course it's a holiday, this place is bloody mental, and I love it."

I don't like telling people that I like London. It's what cool people said about 15 years ago. It's also not strictly true. I have a very complex relationship with the city, and most of my issues with it are simply to do with convenience and cost. For example, it cost me £12 to buy a round of three drinks. This is seen as acceptable, for some reason. My bank manager disagrees.

Despite the downsides, I could easily see myself living there. But first, let us tackle the downsides.

Oyster Cards

Seen as a great invention heralding the future of transport the first time I visited anywhere other than the dead centre of the city, I quickly learned that this money disintegrating system has no consideration for your wellbeing, mental state of mind, or indeed that your train is just about to go and you do not have time to fanny around taking it out of its Ikea wallet and battering it with several tonnes of force into the stupid yellow circle pad because tapping it wasn't enough. On more than one occasion I found myself explaining, teary-eyed with anger and frustration, that I had indeed bought a day card and my STUPID FUCKING BLOODY ARSE of an Oyster card was claiming I had no money. The solution? Buy another travel card. Can't tell you how angry I am about that, and at how many dinner parties/family functions/house parties/christmas dinners I'm going to tell this story in a high-pitched gin-soaked absolutely livid voice.

Drinking After 11

I have yet to find somewhere to drink in London that is open after 11:30pm and doesn't charge you to get in, and then proceed to charge £400 for a bottle of wine that largely tastes of puddles and the thought that you could be spending £3 in Lancaster for the same thing. Yes, being in Lancaster would be shit, and London has benefits and blah blah etc but I refuse to believe that any Londoner is happy with this state of affairs. I just want a pub that's open til at least 2am. I know that's possible, because I have worked at one. Sort it out, so-called capital city.


The water is fucking disgraceful. Being spoilt Yorkshire folk, brought up round dales and beautiful mountains, we (that is, my friend Sophie and I) are used to water soft enough to make a decent cup of tea with. Washing my hair in a hostel in Charlton before going out was probably the biggest mistake of my life, considering that I stepped out of the bathroom with what can only be described as extremely combustible tinder stuck to my head where once there was a fairly good mop of hair. I have set my fringe on fire on a number of occasions. I do not need any help. Also drinking it is akin to licking rain off a tramp dog. Yes yes, you can get bottled water, but it's the PRINCIPLE. I do not live in a deprived country. I was in the capital city of England, and I could not drink the tap water because it made me ill. SORT IT OUT LONDON.

Other Tourists


The London Eye

"That in no way looks fun, and I would be crying in the fetal position for a good 40 mins of the ride" - said by me, while looking at it.

"It isn't meant to be fun or a ride. It is meant to be a serious landmark." - Sophie Lea

"Fucksake" - a unified agreement that this was the worst idea for a landmark ever.

London has its upsides too though. We saw Krishnan Guru Murthy on the tube. You can get the bus home at any time of the night. Everyone is rude, so when you say "for fuck's sake" when somebody bashes into you, an eyelid is neither batted nor raised in fury. 24 hour shops are precisely that - no legal requirements that see them shut at midnight on a Saturday for them. Everywhere you look, massive ancient buildings have been plonked between La Senza and an off license, forcing you to take a step back and think that actually, parts of the town are astonishing. Even residents have to admit that Trafalgar Square is fucking lovely.

The Worst Part

Stepping off the train onto platform 7 at Leeds City Station, suddenly realising that nothing has changed and that London is miles and miles away. London Come Down is a serious affliction, and has met me with drowsiness, general depression, and a willingness to join some Vice mag-led squatter-prick society if it means getting to remain there more permanently. Perhaps it's more a wish to self-harm than to raise the quality of my life, but I seriously would not hate to live there for a while. And that, coming from me, is a huge compliment.


Jamrock said...


(that is all)

Katie said...

Thank you :)

Matt Harding said...

Class, all things I miss about "The Smoke".

1. 4.
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