I recently completed a four month stint working in London, and now the dust has settled, it’s time for a review of life in Lahndan Tahn.
As someone born and brought up in a small Borders town (pop. c.5000), who has subsequently spent much of his adult life in and around Edinburgh, which as a youngster was always an exciting day trip, the prospect of London was a little daunting. It’s big, dirty, smelly, full of foreigners and traffic and murderers and druggies and prostitutes. I mean, Newcastle is a big, place to me!!!
So, the size thing – yes, London is big, but, it’s pretty easy to get about in, all things considered, and it has the capacity to swallow events and leave you oblivious to there existence. We were billetted in the Kensington area, Stamford Bridge was nearby, Craven Cottage fairly close, Wembley was visible from the office, Loftus Road around the corner. All of these places were in use for big events in the time I was there, never once did it inconvenience me. I’ve been in Edinburgh when the Six Nations are on, the city grinds to a halt!
Is it dirty? Not really, for the most part it’s cleaner than many places, and certainly no worse. My biggest bug bear? It’s impossible to walk more than 10 yards without someone trying to hand you a free paper/magazine/lifestyle, and of course these publications end up all over the fucking place.
Smelly? Have you been to Edinburgh when the breweries are in full “bloom”? The main thing you notice about the London smell is the aroma of food….all those bloody foreigners cooking up some amazing dishes. Which brings me to the bloody foreigners…..yes, there are many of them. So many tourists, so many immigrant families and languages, and yet it all seems to fit pretty well together. My only problems were with the odd Asian newsagent not taking Scottish notes, and the odd lairy “Cockernee” mouthing off about “sweaties”.
Traffic was a non issue for me, the tube got me everywhere I needed to be. One thing about that though. Londoners, what’s the rush? Where’s the fire? I used the Central line a lot, and the number of people rushing past in a blur to get the next train was amazing. I mean, the Central line defines “there’ll be another one along in a minute”. It’s not as if missing it would put a crimp in your day! And that 9am Monday rom Liverpool Street tube….I’ve seen roomier sardine tins. Nothing is so important you have to risk beheading yourself on the door just for two inches of space and a noseful of someones sweaty armpit.
The danger side? Never saw it, never felt it, never perceived it. Yes there were many brasses around, mainly higher class ones due to where we were staying, in an area with many embassies. I’m pretty sure the concierge knew exactly where to get us a lady had we asked, in fact I’m certain more than a few Eastern European lovelies plied their trade in our building.
I met some fantastic people, some of whom I had know online before going down, others were complete strangers. I had some fantastic nights out, one in the Crown and Two Chairmen was a particular highlight, and if I only eat in two places in London again one will be Bodeans on Westbourne Grove, the other will be Chula in Hammersmith….
London, I’ll be back!