I read this very poignant blog about life in London and I have to say, I identify with every single aspect of it although I did think it does paint a rather more negative picture of London and I feel, is quite subjective. Look. Put simply, when life is great, in London or anywhere, you will love it. All the negativities of the place melt away. I have been jobless, almost homeless once when I lived in London on my own. You see, I was young and impetuous. I got into an argument with my superior, and before I knew it, I was out of a job. On hindsight, I should have sued her for unfair dismissal, but at 18, what did I know? But it worked out in the end as I eventually found a new job after 2 months of going on the dole.
Before I met my husband. I remember feeling alone and yet free. I was very young. I was happy and relieved. I was far away from my parents. Something I had hoped and planned for years and finally achieved. I remember feeling sad too that I’d left so many friends behind in Singapore to pursue this dream. Part of me desperately wanted to be back in Singapore again, but part of me resisted. I had friends in London but they were not as close. Yet London is kinda like Singapore really, except I actually preferred it to Singapore in a way. It was slightly different. It had more history and culture built into it whereas Singapore is a very young country, and London is definitely the arts capital of England – or even of the world, it can be argued. As such, it was a definite paradise for me, as I was into books, art and music. It was perfect. I didn’t really want to leave. I did remember wishing I could transplant all my Singaporean friends to London though, so I could have the best of both. Oh and another good thing about London is the temperature is warmer than most of England, and it hardly snows there. Neither do gale force winds afflict London as much as other English cities. As you can see, I’m not a fan of extreme climates. At all.
I was definitely used to the spirit of such cities – to the point where I feel like I do not fit in like a native in other places of the world which have a different vibe from cities like London and Singapore. In fact, I would rather live in London than any of the other English cities I’ve lived in, including the one I live in now. And as for the countryside? Forget it. I’d die of lack of mental stimulation there.
Londoners are typically engrossed with their busy lives. It is a bustling city, where a lot of exciting things happen simultaneously. It can be a great place to network in, but most of your contacts will be fleeting because Londoners always have somewhere in mind to go to. Somewhere to reach for. Dreams. It is in deep contrast to townies in other English cities, who are so resigned to their boring fates and are unwilling to change or venture out of their comfort zone (i.e. their town) to make something of themselves.
The inhabitants of other English cities can often express a deep dislike of London even if they have never visited it. I hear crap like “London is full of foreigners” as if it’s a bad thing. They nickname it “Londonistan” – a racist jeer which is made in reference to the high numbers of Muslims and black people in London. I wonder if these people ever were aware that the average Londoner contributes 70% more to Britain’s national income than people in the rest of the country – a difference of £16,000 each a year. If not for London doing what it does so well, the whole of England will crumble like a pile of bricks, fall into deep recession, and so forth.
When I went to London, I was lucky to have a circle of friends already there. Londoners are an extroverted bunch. There are meet-ups of every kind in the city every day and every week, for all sorts of interests and hobbies. But if you want to make some friends, you’ve got to get out there, get out of your comfort zone, make some appointments, go to meet-ups, and network. That’s the only way to make friends. Otherwise, don’t expect people to just come up to you at the tube station, in the trains, on the buses, or on the street and start chattering. London is still in England after all, even though it is the most multicultural and open-minded place here, so Londoners are still quite reserved compared to say, Americans.
I’ve had strangers come right up to me and start chatting to me in London though, whether I’m walking alone or with friends. Generally, I am very interested in getting to know new people, so I find I am pretty receptive to these unplanned encounters. I know some of my London friends tell me I shouldn’t bother chatting to strangers, but I still did it anyway. I felt I was streetwise enough to handle it if things started looking dodgy. I have pretty good gut feelings about people, and so far I have often attracted kind and interesting people into my life, which I’m thankful for.
I met my husband in one of those unplanned situations, and looking back, I guess I was lucky. I trusted him within the first few minutes of encountering him, and when he told me to go with him, I just did. He could have turned out to be some horrible creep, but I had a gut feeling about his character and I felt I could trust him. I felt he was kind and protective, and we clicked instantaneously without having to say a lot to each other.
Anyway, now that we’ve spent so many years living in different parts of England, we can now say hand on heart that London is still the best place to live. I miss it and try to go down to London every few months to visit friends and see the sights, but wouldn’t it be better if I could just live right there again?