Saturday, August 19, 2006

Turn again Huw

I moved to London a little under six years ago, and last week I left. The initial enthusiasm had long since gone and I had most definitely become jaded. Not to say I don’t still have a lot of affection for London, but I really am looking forward to a change: I had been in one place for a little to long, and it had reached the stage where things I once enjoyed had begun to grate.

My attitudes towards just simple things had markedly changed from my first few years compared to how I was just before leaving. For example, in those pre-gherkin and congestion charging days when I got to London I was amused by a different London accent I would hear here and there. It was quite unlike the salt of the earth London accent I’d heard being used amongst cabbies or the desperately forced cockney accent of Eastenders actors who were trying their hand at telly after a few years treading the boards at Stratford. Favoured by many of London’s native under 30s, this Bagney accent – with it’s supposed influences from Bangladeshi and Afro-Caribbean populations – seemed somewhat endearing to me, with an inflection striving to make it sound as though the speaker is making as little effort as possible whilst still actually speaking. Now though, with its lazy and abrasive “ah” heavy sound, it just really irritates me.

The chance to escape the Bagney speakers of this world is a huge plus, but there’s plenty I will miss. It swings both ways. Off the top of my head…


-Certain Londoners incessant littering.

-The Bendy Buses. Heralded as a replacement for the outdated Routemasters, the Bendy Buses then started to be rolled out on routes which weren’t being served by Routemasters anyway. A clear case of someone high up striking a deal with Mercedes to buy far more than were needed if ever I saw one. I didn’t hate the Bendy Buses on first sight though; my dislike came for them with experience, when my bus route – previously served by perfectly good 5-year-old buses – was earmarked for the Bendy treatment. In the end what really frayed my patience wasn’t the lack of seating, but it came close: the Bendy Buses of course were heralded as making public transport accessible for everyone, not just for the able-bodied, but personally I never quite grasped how a lack of seats (a mere 35% of the capacity) benefited the infirm, elderly and disabled, the majority of whom, remember, are not wheelchair bound. Nor was it the fact that any increase of the buses overall capacity was undermined by the reduction in frequency of buses serving the routes, meaning buses were as overcrowded as ever. Nor was it the lack of things to hold onto when you invariably did end up having to stand. Nor was it their incompatibility with London’s streets: it’s all very well transplanting a method of transport which has worked well in other European cities, but unless you are also planning on building the wide and straight boulevards found elsewhere it’s a tad inappropriate. No, the thing that eventually was driving me mad amongst all the evidence of a lack of foresight the Bendy revolution provided was that a form of transport had been introduced which was an absolute haven for pickpockets. One which offered an opportunity to easily board without needing to show a ticket also enabled thieves to spend a day riding up and down the length of a route without paying a penny (and, of course, the same goes for mentalists and loonies), and a number of well placed doors also offered a means of making a speedy getaway. A bus’s upper deck may be widely acknowledged as an invitation for anti-social behaviour, but economics beats psychology every time: the hooligans might be behaving, but the criminals are rubbing their hands together. An average week for me would include around 15 bendy bus trips, and during that week it was atypical to neither see or hear signs of at least one theft (attempted or successful). Oh, and another thing that pisses me off about Bendy Buses is that for some reason no-one follows the Tube etiquette of letting the passengers disembarking get off first. What’s that about?!

-Speaking of which, on a related note I won’t miss the stupidness. I’m sure that there is plenty of stupidity elsewhere in the world, but maybe it’s a different sort of stupidity manifesting itself in different ways, and maybe I’ll find that refreshing for a while. Either way, I still reckon there are proportionally more idiots in London Town; I’ve long said London is where all the village idiots end up. It’s magnetic.

-Londoners baffling refusal to push the button at pedestrian crossings, whilst simultaneously looking irritated and impatient.

-The area which surrounded my office. Okay, so in truth there was nothing specifically wrong with where I worked. It's just that my office was about 200m away from where I lived when I first moved to London. There's something about getting lunch in the same place as you did 6 years ago that makes you feel like you aren't really moving forward.



-The magnitude of buildings and streets with rich stories attached to them.

-Being able to get public transport to pretty much anywhere and almost at anytime.

-Walking across Waterloo Bridge, especially at sunset. I used to try to cross either Waterloo or Hungerford bridge at least once a fortnight.

-Interesting regional news programmes and papers. It’s back to “vandals damaged a phonebox in Little Shoremeadow over the weekend. Police are appealing for witnesses” for me.

-The BT Tower. Nuff said.

-Playing football in Regents Park on summer evenings to the sound of the Lions in the zoo roaring.

-Driving out of London on the M4 in the evening, with the sun setting ahead of you.

I’m sure there are many more, but that will do for now. Name something you like and something you hate about where you live.


Gareth said...

I've been in London 12 years and occasionally yearn for something different. Not sure what, or where. Mew York is so out of the question.

What ould I miss - the fact taht if I wanted to I copuld go out any evening and do something exciting and different from the night before.

I won't miss the fact that people are so damn rude, the attitude of the typical londoner really pisses me off.

Dancinfairy said...

The weekend I moved to the country the headline on the local paper was "Man grows first ever pinapple in Lewes". Local papers are great.

I love - being able to step out of my door and going for a walk in the country.

I hate - getting trains and taxi's home when I have been drinking and have an invariably full bladder!

Monica said...

Love- being one minute walk to work and the massive Waterloo station, which has so many tube lines I can usually get where I want without ever having to switch trains!

Hate- tourists who can't find the eye. What is so damn difficult? Look up. See Eye. Walk in that direction. Jesus!

Raggedy said...

Love- The cold climate
Hate- The price of heating oil....

The Bendy buses don't sound like they are working out very well.

Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from da Raggedy one

christianoshi said...

But everyone knows that pushing the button at pedestrian crossings doesn't make the traffic stop any quicker.

I only landed in London almost a year ago having steadily crept out of the sticks of North Wales via Sheffield and Brighton, and I feel there's no going back. I don't feel there's anywhere left in the country with as much choice, speed in getting around, career opportunities, anonymity etc.

Personally, the advantage list is endless but I don't doubt that one day soon I will become tired of its inhabitants' appalling attitudes.

Curly said...

Ah, how I love dazzling people with my amazing facts about the BT tower, all thanks to 'My Thoughts Exactly'.

The thing that I love about Swansea is the common-ness of it, there's no pretence about the place and very few people are up their own arses.

I don't actually hate anything about the place, although the thing that I most dislike is the fact that the population doesn't seem to be very diverse. Not many people inspire.

AnonymousCoworker said...

I love being so close to the cultural centers of Baltimore and DC.

I hate how close the other suburbanites are as well.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Well, I just have to know: Are the Lynnes going where you're going?

Ah, more's the pity.....

Lucy said...

Love: Seeing the sea every day. Taking half an hour to walk down town because people stop you to say hello.

Hate: Tourists. Village idiots. No bookshop.

Matt said...

Hmmm. This post did not exactly fill me with much excitement for my year ahead in London...

Sister Louise said...

Hate - The bendy buses 'cause you can't enjoy the risk of being chopped in half whilst taking a galloping leap onto the back of the bus - like you could when they were open to the elements.
Hate - the frickin' pigeons that fly in your face everwhere you go.
Love - The feeling of comradeship that comes with so many people away from home - best drawn out Sunday brunches ever.
Love - running in the recent storms along the river from Putney to Hammersmith or Richmond Park on an early morning.
Love - sunset on Waterloo bridge (thought that was my secret?!)
Love - the feeling of 'anything could happen'.

Chris Cope said...

I've lived in Cardiff now for just shy of two months, so I can't offer a particularly in-depth assessment, but...

LIKE: Cardiff bus drivers. They are rockin' friendly if you are nice to them.

HATE: Scary jewelry-laden fat chav women who don't seem to know that they are a walking joke.

Raggedy said...

I have not been around for a little while.
I don't know where you are but I hope all is well.