Know wot I mean?

I have just returned from a whirlwind visit to London to visit my new nephew and catch up with some old friends. It was pretty hectic but I enjoyed it nevertheless. London is now two-removed from being my home and so no longer feels like a place I’d like to live. I think that to live well in London you either need to be young, single and loaded or married and loaded or just loaded. There is a common theme here, but I am struggling to grasp it.

The weather was perfect (the weather: I am still a brit at heart…); clear skies with a crispness in the air and there was a feeling of the first day of spring. You could practically hear the opening bars of Peter and the Wolf. But I view London, and England, through fresh eyes now (listen to me, gone two months and I am coming over all Alistair Cooke…if only) and I wanted to list a few observations of the differences between London and cont-inentaal Europe:

  1. Trends There are fashions trends out there, oh yes. I have seen them with my own eyes. The yoof in London dress in a fashion uniform. The girls are dressed like a cross between Breakfast Club rejects and Afgani war correspondents – all pink Christopher Biggins specs and arab scarves. The lads on the other hand, are all wearing pea-coats with epulets and it’s like being on the set of a Michael Caine movie from the sixties. I said, it’s like being on the set of a Michael Caine movie. On the European mainland, there is no real trend; there is a slight eighties style going on with the yoof, but the yoof are hidden away in caves until they are of marrying age in Europe, so I don’t see it much. You can see fashion trends and styles in abundance in London, but apart from porn-star moustaches, Europe is a wasteland.
  2. Music Music seems to be the lifeblood of London and everywhere I went there was music pouring out of speakers. In shops, on trains, out of cars, people’s headphones, people’s mobiles, adverts on the tube escalators – it was a cacophony and somewhat wearisome after a while. You seem to be bombarded with audio and visual messages constantly with a soundtrack to boot. London is noisy and maybe the music is just another way to compete. But maybe London needs to be quiet now and again, I think.
  3. Laughter You hear it a lot in London: in bars, cafes and just out and about. Someone is always telling a joke, taking the piss of making a clever observation or crass remark. London can be right grim at times; with it’s inhabitants marching down it’s thoroughfares with pursed lips and practiced frowns – but with fresh eyes I noticed that it is actually quite a happy place.
  4. Swearing Sitting on the tube with my ears open was like being in The Long Good Friday in which every second word was fuck or wanker or shit. I know that I am a parent and say fiddlesticks and blimey a lot – but it all sounded a bit uncouth. Londoners do, though, swear awfully well. When an American swears, it sounds quite pleasant really; the accent softens it a bit, almost non-threatening. When Londoners swear it sounds like they really, really mean it.

5 thoughts on “Know wot I mean?

  1. Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner… by choice (alas, it doesn’t make me loaded), if not by birth, that I just had to comment. Well, yes, to all of the above. Though don’t you think they’re all (apart from the swearing, though the phrase ‘Anglo Saxon’ was probably coined within earshot of f***ing Bow Bells) an inherent part of what makes London ‘London’? The clothes, the music, the laughter. Apart from the weather, you could have been describing the Swinging Sixties. Come back, MrShev, I only think you’re turning blimmin’ Swiss!

    1. London is an amazing city and I thought I was relaying the positives. I loved the fashion catwalk that is Regent Street and the music remixed and reworked through speakers everywhere and the laughter and the greenery. But it feels a world away for us now…

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