London. Great Britain’s capital city of more than 8 million people. The home of multiculturalism, a place where dreams come true and where people fall in love. Sounds amazing, right?
It was Samuel Johnson who famously stated that ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford’. But I’m not so sure if I agree with him.
Of course London is a great city. I love the variety of things to do and see there. I love Camden and Covent Gardens, and their respective markets; I love the variety of theatre shows; I love the extraordinary amount of different restaurants, bars and clubs. But as a whole I just don’t love London.
Coming from a small town just outside Glasgow in Scotland, maybe you could argue that the problem is I’m not used to big cities, but I simply adore Barcelona, Rome and St. Petersburg. None of which are as populated as London, but perhaps that’s part of the problem. There are so many people in London, and it’s so spread out, that getting anywhere is a nightmare. The tube system is clever, but it’s constantly busy, always ridiculously warm and in general just highly unappealing. Buses and taxis aren’t really a suitable alternative though as there’s so much traffic it takes forever to get anywhere.
London also isn’t what I’d call a friendly city. People will bump into you and not apologise, they’ll generally just pretend you’re not even there. Us Scottish people are a friendly bunch and used to flashing a quick smile at people who we make eye contact with in the street or wherever. I smiled at someone I exchanged glances with on the tube and they looked at me as if I had four heads.
The main thing I don’t like about London though is the general feeling it gives me. Everywhere you go there are people rushing around, constantly checking their watches, rushing to and from work. The rat race. To me, the connotations of London are negative. Very few people you see, save for tourists, look like they are enjoying themselves. They’re too busy rushing to get somewhere that life is passing them by.
Every time I visit London I’m overwhelmingly reminded that I don’t want life to pass me by. Quite the opposite actually. As I write this post on the train back to Glasgow I’m so looking forward to being home, and grateful that being in London has made me determined to work even harder at not letting life pass me by.