Wednesday, 8 September 2010

My Kind Of Town

A really strange thing happened today. I was annoyed like others with the tube strike and the mission it was going to be to get to and from work. Ive always said I wanted to move away from London, to the seaside preferably, I have this romantic notion of taking walks along the beach on late summer nights with the family, I'm not so sure though now after tonight.

Tonight I caught a bus from Paddington Station to Liverpool Street so as I could get the train home. I was sitting there reading the paper minding my own business when I overheard a conversation in front of me. It was an old man talking to a young American couple and as the bus was going through Piccadilly Circus he was talking to them about the sights and the history. I looked out of the window and saw London for the first time in a long time.

Ive worked in London all my life, East, West and North, but Ive never looked at it before. Ive gone to work head down getting to point A from point B as quickly as possible, not paying much attention to what is going on around me. I suppose like everyone does, don't look at me stranger, don't talk to me, I must get to where I'm going as fast as possible. As we passed Trafalgar Square tonight and I saw it all lit up, I watched as group of tourists took pictures of each other on the lions. I did this as a kid myself, Ive got the photo somewhere. The thing was it felt like I was seeing London for the first time and I suddenly realised what a great city it is.

The history of the buildings, the architecture of St Paul's for example, the famous landmarks and how they all look so different at night. It really was something special. I know its got its faults, its dirty, the people aren't the friendliest in the world, the crime rate is appalling, everything is expensive, but what it has can only be described as character. Its amazing sometimes where my blogs come from, Ill be doing nothing then BANG an idea pops into my head and off I go, this one being an example of that.

There are some amazing things to see in London and I think we knock it too much. We look for the bad things instead of lifting our heads up and seeing, actually looking at what is around us. This is true of many things in life and we are all guilty of that. I really enjoyed my journey home tonight, we live in a great city with character, with history, and that's what separates us from other city's in the world. The Tower of London, The Thames, Buckingham Palace, the small narrow streets in the square mile each and everyone of them steeped in centuries of stories waiting to be told and discovered by a new generation.

Its just not the center of London though we have other places as well. Brick Lane for one, the best curries this side of Birmingham, Mile End and all the food shops in a row where you can get a Kebab, Chips, Chicken Wings and a Coke for £3.50 ( its was bloody good as well). City's change when the lights go down. Don't get me wrong there are places in London where I wouldn't go in the day let alone the night but sometimes things look different at night, the character of a place comes through. Ive stumbled around the City the worse for wear many times at night and never come to any harm.

Convent Garden is another example of this, there is always something going on there. From mime artists to people signing opera, its a great place to spend a summers evening. There are countless examples of places to go and see in London Ive mentioned but a few. We look at New York, Paris and Rome and envy them, why? They are just as dirty, rude and expensive as London but the one thing they don't have is our character, our history and our culture. New York has the Statute of Liberty, Paris has the Eiffel Tower and Rome has the Colosseum. Amazing things to see but they don't have the amount of different things we do. I bet you'd be surprised at what you actually walk past every day, what you didn't even realise what was there, I know I was.

Its a fascinating place,.you have just got to lift your head every now and then and have a look. If you want to see bad things then this is what you will see, if though you want to be amazed then you will. Lift your head and look at your surroundings for once. Get a coffee and drink it at the table outside looking at the buildings, the people that are around you. Trust me the next chance you get, stop and have a look at London, it really is an amazing city that we live in.


  1. Well said. Lived here all my life and am still fascinated by it's history. I try and take my kids to as many attractions/tours as I can but sometimes think I get more out of it than them!! Most of my family grew up in and around Bethnal Green and I have great memories of playing in Victoria Park so I take my kids there now to build their own memories. I remember buying a 60p travel card as a young teen and traveling around on the tube, going everywhere and seeing everything (when I was ment to be in school!). The blitz took some of my family but the ones who came through it wouldn't have dreamed of leaving because they loved it and were proud of it. I think people who say it's a dump have lost their pride somewhere along the line and cant see past their own predujices and cliched opinions. It's amazing to have all this on our doorstep and anyone who can't appreciate that doesn't deserve to share in it.
    I may move away one day, to the sea like yourself, but I wont go to far and I'll make damn sure my kids get as much out of this great city as I did.