Ah London. The dream. The big city. The endless nightlife and mid-week cocktails with friends. The job opportunities, the music venues, the 24 hour fast food, the River Thames, Big Ben, The London Eye. What a place.
I choose to live and work and play in London and I will firmly stand by this choice. It is a GREAT city and we are lucky to have it. However, to be a Londoner, you have to be ready to deal with A LOT of crap. There are so many things that can bring on extreme rage but these five battles in particular are my biggest:
Probably the most obvious thing to those that live in London, is that it is astronomically expensive to do so. You just have to accept it. If you want to live in the big city, you’ve got to be willing to pay the big bucks. Shelling out £650 a month plus bills for a small bedroom in a house that is probably in varying states of disrepair may not be the dream, but it is the reality. Fancy living alone in an actual flat with a separate kitchen and living area that isn’t actually in Kent or Essex? Er, good luck. Maybe start looking for a stockbroker to marry first. Also, it’s completely fine to pay around £100 a month to get to work on the tube, because they’re improving it every weekend! (LOL)
At the very least, become committed to Euromillions. You’ve gotta be in it to win it, and having the hope to cling to is almost comforting. Doing a reasonably healthy food shop in a supermarket should be done with little attention paid. Just put it in the basket and pay. If you take notice of the fact you are paying 70p for a single, soft, probably a bit gone-off red pepper, the tears may start to flow. It’s also good practice to become excited by any alcoholic drink that costs less than say, £7. Trying to find a pint for less than £4 is a nice goal, if you have enough time to research these things, which you probably don’t. Take notice of happy hours. Me and my flatmates recently discovered a good one less than a minute from our house and it was more like ecstatic hour.
For the times when you simply cannot happily ignore how expensive everything is, at least there are always SO MANY deals going on. There are bargains to be found in this city and they really should be used. Expect mass hysteria when anything is free.
2) The Tube
Oh my God, the struggle is real. It’s regular practice if commuting on the tube, especially in zones 1 and 2 and ESPECIALLY in rush hour, to be touched by a lot of strangers. Personal space doesn’t exist. Being able to move is not a thing. Smelling what someone had for breakfast as they breathe directly into your ear is to be expected. My personal battle zone is the District Line. Delays, signal failures, virtually cuddling the weird man who is sweating profusely next to you and constant destination changes. A test to the patience of even the most angelic saints that exist among us, the District line will crush your dreams and charge you £31 a month to do so. Of course it’s not all about me. Commuters on all lines and all modes of transport can regularly expect their mornings and evenings to descend into chaos, resulting in crying, crazed laughter and strongly worded tweets. It’s best not to even go into what happens when there is any kind of weather. As if that wasn’t enough, we now have card clash to consider. How will we go on?
3) Oxford Street
As a very happy shopaholic, it’s upsetting that the most central place with the best and biggest shops in London is basically a circle of Hell. I had to venture there last weekend to go to The Apple Store and when I offered my housemate to join she literally replied ‘I would rather die than go shopping on Oxford Street.’ Extreme, yes, but she is not alone in that opinion. The thing that makes my skin crawl the most is slow walking. It can take about ten minutes to walk a few meters unless you are extremely skilled and have sharpened elbows. Oxford Circus tube station is interesting isn’t it? By interesting, of course I mean terrifying and crushingly busy.
Just think about the queue in Primark. Just think about it. Ergh.
4) The Night Bus
Living close to Central London is amazing for nightlife. There are so many fun places to go, whatever you’re into, this simply cannot be denied. I still come across clubs now I haven’t heard of or been too and I’ve been going out in London regularly for 6 years. One of biggest downfalls is your journey home. Cabs for a lot of people, especially young revelers or students, are an extravagance and avoided at all costs. The decision to take the night bus is a big one. This strange, offensively bright, devastatingly unpredictable service attracts a special breed of weirdo and often wanker. Drunk chanting, puddles of sick, fast food everywhere, strangers wanting a chat. It’s almost okay if you are hammered and in a good mood and up for some 4am high jinx, but in my experience it is usually not okay. The whispers of the tube running all night are getting louder, and it cannot come soon enough.
Yes, tourists are important and I would recommend a trip to London to anyone, but let’s be honest…ANNOYING. Working in Paddington has definitely heightened this for me. The place is crawling with thrilled visitors at all times. You can’t take more than three steps without being wheeled over or walking into a suitcase. Firstly, where do they even get these suitcases? Some are so big I know humans of a certain size who could live in them. I am also often quite amazed at how many they manage to drag around and by where they choose to take them. Suitcases in the queue for the London Aquarium will always be a fond memory. I also enjoy it when tourists gather in packs to take a photo of drains, the front of a Holiday Inn or a dead pigeon. All of these have happened, because I have been there to watch in disbelief. I also recently witnessed a very excited Italian family try and use one oyster card to get through the barriers at Notting Hill Gate. It was both hilarious and infuriating, as is life in general in this insane city.
If you are reading this and you aren’t from London, please don’t be afraid. It is truly lovely and you should visit. (Just don’t run anyone over with your suitcase)