Oh London. I’ve loved you and loathed you over the past four and a bit years. When we were dirt poor, I hated you. Everything was too expensive and we couldn’t even scramble together enough pennies to get the tube into the West End to go for a stroll.
But when we had a little bit more money, life was good. The cocktails, the bars, the sightseeing… it’s been fun, hasn’t it? There are parts of you that I will miss a lot. Many places can’t be replicated elsewhere no matter how hard other nations may try. There may be a British pub in Perth but it won’t be the same.
And there are parts of you I won’t miss at all. The filth, the crime, the crowds…
But what are my top 10? London, you’ll be please to know that although I could think of 10 things that I won’t miss, I thought of 11 things I will miss. I guess you’ve stolen my heart.
What I won’t miss about London
1. Need it be said? The weather. Yes, it’s a predictable number one. Just as predictable as the London weather. The weather is either drizzling, grey, drizzling or erm… grey. And it can get depressing. With the grey sky pressing down on you it even makes you feel a little claustrophobic at times. Some days I’d just long for the wide open blue sky and seeing the sun again to bring some brightness into my life.
2. The mould. Hand in hand with the damp weather comes the mould. Every house we’ve lived at in London has been mouldy. At our last place, the mould even came through the wall from the bathroom into the lounge room and crept up the wall like an evil octopus’ tentacles looking to poke its spores into you. Urgh. Not hygienic at all.
3. Although I love a good gin and tonic, I don’t love paying £18 for one. Yes, that’s not a typo, £18. London is expensive. I guess it comes with living in a big city. But sometimes it can get a bit much. When we were dirt poor, we found it tough. I’m embarrassed to say that I once made Dave return a pack of toilet paper because he paid £7 for it and I could buy it elsewhere for £2! Every penny counted back then.
4. Speaking of expense, I won’t miss the price of transport. It is ridiculously expensive. For Dave’s weekly travel pass, where he goes four stops on the tube, he pays more than £30. And that’s a discounted rate because it’s a travel card. The London Underground has to be one of the most expensive tube systems in the world. It’s certainly the oldest which means the technology isn’t quite up to scratch. With all the delays you get from signal failures you have to wonder whether you’re getting your money’s worth.
5. Not to mention the tube is tiny. In fact, everything in London seems to be made for little people. There are a lot of small spaces. Dave often says that he’s too big for this country and I have to agree. Most of the cars in the city are two doors meaning Dave has to travel with his knees tucked under his chin.
6. Another thing that isn’t great about the tube is the crowds. If you get claustrophobic then going on a train in a pitch black tunnel 10 metres under the ground won’t be for you. Never mind that you have to face this pitch black hole with someone’s smelly armpit in your face. It brings a new meaning to the term ‘night sweats’.
7. And if you have a broken leg, are old or pregnant, you should forget getting the tube altogether. My friend was on crutches a couple of weeks ago and not one person got up for her on the tube. For a whole week. That’s 10 tube journeys without one person getting off their butt. Londoners aren’t the friendliest bunch and I won’t miss their rudeness. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all of them. The Portuguese man in our corner deli is so sweet. But our neighbour’s kid once pissed all over our front wall and window. Our bedroom window. While we were standing outside. How old was the kid? About nine. And his mum stood there and watched.
8. Speaking of filth, Londoners have no idea about littering. They could be standing next to a bin and they’ll still throw their rubbish on the floor. I won’t miss the dirt and grime of rubbish-strewn London. I guess it’s not instilled in London kids that they should bin their rubbish. Maybe they didn’t see those horrible videos of dolphins getting caught in plastic beer ring packaging – images which still haunt me to this day.
9. I don’t like paying for TV. For me, freeview should be just that – freeview. But in the UK you have to give £12 a month to the BBC for your TV license so you can watch the damn thing. Seeing as the BBC pays Dave his wages, this is somewhat ironic. But it’s meant to be so the BBC remains unbiased because it’s the public paying them, not the government. Hmmm… when some BBC executives got paid a £670,000 sum to leave the corporation it does leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
10. And finally, number 10. I won’t miss the class system. It’s so evident here. You can almost tell from someone’s accent if they are from a wealthy background or not. And the first question you’ll always be asked is ‘What do you do for a living?’ It’s as if your career defines you. And once you answer you can be neatly placed into a box and the class system where you belong.
BUT ENOUGH WHINGING. I do love London and I will miss it. I will, I will, I will. And here’s why…
1. Boris Johnson as mayor! I love this guy. He’s a “bumbling buffoon” (his words, not mine) and he comes out with the most hilarious sentences in his posh boy accent that you just have to giggle. I do hope one day he’ll become prime minister but in his own words: “My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.”
2. Speaking of great conversation, I will miss all the great conversations I’ve had at numerous dinner parties we’ve hosted. When I told my mum that I was moving to London she said to me, “Great, you’ll learn the true art of conversation.” It sounds snobby but it’s true. Londoners are so in touch with what’s going on in the world and it means that we can happily debate for hours about anything from politics to war. And we’ve had some drunken and heated conversations on some of these topics, trust me.
3. Speaking of war and politics, the news here is great. And I’m not just saying that because my husband works at the BBC. Live reports keep you updated and rather than The Sunday Times in WA, The Sunday Times in the UK is a quality newspaper. You get real current affairs here, not just a dude babbling about someone’s cat caught up a tree. And if you haven’t heard of Jon Snow – Google him. He’s my favourite news presenter of all time. He absolutely grills his studio guests with flair. And his colourful socks are just the added sparkle.
4. Yes, London may be expensive but there are an unlimited number of things to do. In our four and a half years of living here, we’ve hardly been the same place twice. And I have a long list down to the floor of places I could still visit. It’s gonna be hard moving back to small town Perth after living in the city with so many amazing things to do and see.
5. And just as there are an unlimited number of things to do, there are an unlimited number of pubs to visit. There’s no doubting it – British pubs are something else. No other nation can create a pub with the same atmosphere. I don’t know what it is. They are quaint, old-worldly and charming. Many of them have low ceilings and creaky floorboards, making it feel as though you’ve stepped back into the 16th century.
6. Just as quaint as the British pubs is its countryside. Rolling green hills (something we don’t get much of back home in Australia) and wide open spaces with picturesque villages thrown in between. Whenever we need to escape the big smoke we head to the country. I’ll miss the British countryside and all its charm.
7. Speaking of green spaces, I love London when it’s a sunny day. It’s not like Australia – everyone leaves the house and sprawls out on the green grass of the parks, letting loose their pale skin until it turns bright red. Everyone has a smile on their face and London turns into a little party town with a great festive atmosphere.
8. And if you run out of beer while you’re sunning yourself, not to worry, you can head to an off-license (bottle shop in Aussie speak) and buy yourself some more. Because the shopping hours in London are awesome. Forget late night shopping, the shops are open on Oxford Street until 8pm every night. I’ll miss the flexibility this provides to my (drinking) lifestyle.
9. Ok, I may have whinged about London’s public transport previously, but it’s actually pretty awesome. You can get anywhere you need to go under the ground in a faster space of time than it takes to drive through the traffic. And if you’re out late and drunk, don’t worry. Because you can get home – at any hour. Because the buses run all night! Ok, they might be a little unsafe and smell like puke, but it means you don’t have to fork out money for an expensive cab fare. Hey, in Perth it doesn’t even matter if you’ve got the money, you can’t even get a cab because there’s none to be had. I will miss London transport (but my liver won’t).
10. Speaking of transport, if you live in London and fancy a weekend in Paris, just hope on the Eurostar and you’ll be there in a couple of hours. Fancy sunning yourself in Dubrovnik? That’s an Easyjet flight for £50 and you’ll be there. Europe is on your doorstep. In Western Australia, we have to fly a few hours to even get out of the state. So living in London and have Europe right in front of my face has been pure paradise for my travelling spirit.
10. But most of all, I will miss our friends. We’ve made some great friends over the past years and they’ve really made London feel like home. As I write this I’m starting to feel teary because I will really miss them, with all my heart. You can replace the scenery but what you can’t replace is true friendship.