It’s almost one year since I moved to London from the Midlands and it’s been an interesting experience.
My friends fell into two camps. They were either horrified that I could think of moving to such a place, visualising that I’d be living in a minute flat somewhere akin to Piccadilly Circus and spending my days shouldering rude and unfriendly people out of my way, lonely and afraid and paying ten pounds for a latte. The other camp was more excited and saw it as a huge opportunity.
Maybe both were right. It has been the most exciting opportunity but my elbows are definitely sharper and keener to shove. The chances to see art and culture are amazing and I tend to wear myself out trying to see too much. I’ve had to give myself a stern talking to after periods where I’ve been doing so much that I’ve been left feeling frazzled.
I live in a place no busier or madder than where I lived before and the coffee is the same price. Maybe my rent is a little higher (3 times higher and the increased wages don’t cover this) but it feels worth it and I have plenty of room and lots of leafy green spaces nearby. As for the unfriendliness: people here are just as friendly as in the North. People talk to me at bus stops and checkouts and are happy to engage and connect. The place I work is full of people who are warm and kind. People on public transport are no less rude than further north (i.e. still quite rude). Maybe the tube is less friendly, but who can blame that population. They’re crammed into packed carriages underground trying hard to get somewhere: wouldn’t you be a little bit determined with no energy left to chat or smile?
Statistics show a huge North/South divide in terms of money and employment and rates of immigration that falls into pockets depending on area. Personally, I hate lazy stereotyping. People are people wherever you live. Yes, those London accents are sometimes tricky to understand and they do get irate when I call them all Cockneys. Yes, jellied eels will never replace chips and gravy in my heart but I bloody love London and I also bloody love my hometown too. Long live mobility.
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.
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