Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Leaving London

It seems like I hardly ever leave London. I get a little antsy if I have to cross the M25 (the giant ring road that encircles greater London). I've become a London snob. I'm happy enough to use a London airport to exit the whole country, but I'm a bit phobic about travelling to the "provinces".

Today I had to do so, and I'm barelling across the Kent countryside (very pretty) on a train as I write. Thankfully I'm on my way back to London.

Of course, when I do travel to the provinces the folks seem happy enough to leave London to me (and the 7 million other Londoners). Conversations go a little like this:

"Oh do you live in London? I quite like visiting London, but I couldn't live there, it's just so ---" (take your pick from crowded, busy, noisy, dirty or ethnic)

I usually say I like living in London and yes it's hard but it's great, too. I don't say "I don't think I could live in your squalid little two-shop town whose entire daytime population appears to be made up of juvenile delinquents and middle-aged women wearing oddly colored fleece tops."

I guess it's a matter of perspective. Today someone asked me where I lived in London and when I said Tooting, he said "oh, you live right in London"

It's true that my borough is technically classified as "inner London", but for heaven's sake Tooting is Zone 3. We're practically suburban.

Anyway, it's only one more stop til London town and I'm starting to get that frisson of excitement. Ahh London, welcome me back to your loving arms.... ya dirty old whore.


Sam said...

There's a great passage at the beginning of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island where he talks about how Britons treat other places in Britain like it's the other side of the world. It's one of the more surreal qualities of Europeans that seems to explain the kind of cultural and ethnic homogeneity they've experienced over the centuries. It's an entirely alien experience for most Americans, much of the Deep South notwithstanding.

Vol-in-Law said...

I think you mean "heterogeneity" >:). Your point is true, but as Vol says there's a particular feeling of living in London that makes one not want to go beyond the M25 barrier. I'd much rather fly to Aberdeenshire than take a train to Birmingham.

Sam said...

I was kinda thinking about how when you're in Spain, you're in Spain, but as soon as you cross the border into France, you're definitely in France. Or France into Belgium, and so on. There aren't any geographical impediemts. It's just so...weird.