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Why I Fell Out of Love with London (1 Viewer)

JohnN

Senior Member
An article I wrote, any opinions welcome....


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“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." Samuel Johnson, 1777


Perhaps it would do me good to sleep and never wake up because I am tired of London. I was born in this place over two decades ago. I always loved London. It is cosmopolitan and large enough to fill anyone’s appetite for anything except sunshine. Yet the lack of sun is not the cause of my disillusionment with London. It is something more substantial. London has become a soulless town, devoid of spirit. It just feels empty.
It’s difficult to put my finger on it but here’s my explanation as to why I have fallen out of love with London.


Housing

I am not going to rave and rant about property prices; I will leave that for others. My gripe is with the new build housing you see springing up from every parcel of land. It’s awful. I enjoy gazing at architecture my favourite period being Georgian. Now and again I take a walk through some areas of London in which you can find this kind of beauty but decent architecture is increasingly rare. The cardboard cut out crap that has recently been created is an abomination to anyone with taste.
London is a city that has exchanged beauty and romanticism for functionality and cost-effectiveness. My recent travels have taken me to Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam and it pleases me to see some unique pieces of architecture. These are cities where functionality is secondary to natural splendour.


The house building craze is metaphor for what London has become, a soulless place, driven by what works rather than what makes people happy. Taking a page out of Bhutan’s book may be necessary, though I think it unlikely. There is something morally corrupting about the pursuit of money for money’s sake. London is no longer a destination. Countless times I’ve heard people say, “I just want to get my money and move abroad”. If London has just become a route to somewhere else, then London must have changed since Samuel Johnson’s day.


Commuting

Why is it so stressful? Why are we not getting air conditioning until 2015 and then only on a few lines? Why is every one so grumpy? I suspect it’s the rat race. London is a city increasingly obsessed by status. We are all trying to climb up to the next rudder. The faces in the tube paint a melancholy picture. Strangers don’t talk to each other on the Amsterdam trams, the Berlin U-bahn or the Paris Metro but the bags of stress and depression that comes with every tube stop is saddening. The faces of hostility you see in London are not present elsewhere.
I recently read a feature in the Sunday Times, asking why the British cannot be more like the French. It had a good point.


Sour Grapes
My reason for falling out of love with London is not sour grapes. Even if I did live in a Georgian townhouse I would feel the same. I am sure of it. London has lost its mojo, its no longer a frontier city. It has nothing new to offer. Its kind of how I imagine New York is like. Lots of glitz and glam but no substance, no romance.
Samuel Johnson began the quote above with these words…


“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.”

Perhaps that’s just it, I am not an intellectual or maybe Samuel Johnson wasn’t that well traveled.
 

Eli Cash

Senior Member
I like it. The Johnson stuff serves as a nice counterpoint. Have you read Didion's "Goodbye to all that"? I posted it on here awhile ago. Might want to check that out. It's a little less structured and pointed than yours, but similar in that she describes how she fell out of love with New York. Might want to give it a try.
 

granty1

Senior Member
While I agree that London is losing its magic and soul, I feel compelled to mention a thing or 2.

I agree that the low cost, affordable housing is quite horrible, although it is inevitable in this age of skyrocketing house prices. It is simply a necessity for any young people wishing to remain there or move there. Without it, first time buyers would be driven out of the city, and the 20-30 demographic would decrease, and I'm sure you would agree that a large portion of a city's vibrancy (and soul) is provided by such an age group.

Also, I would hazard a guess that a similar thing is happening in major cities across Europe, so it is not necessarily just London that is changing in this way.

Can't really argue with you about the tube, most other cities have an air conditioned system, and I have rarely seen such solemn faces on any given morning!!

That said, if you want some faith restoring in human nature, then try travelling the central line on a Saturday. Seeing the scores of deliriously happy tourists, smiles on their faces despite the rain is refreshing. Not forgetting the west end play going families, excited children asking mummy "why is that man so weird looking" in a quiet carriage making everyone stifle a giggle... Beats the commuting run!!

Liked your article..
 

JohnN

Senior Member
Granty - Haha, thats true the central line on Saturday is a lot more happy. I guess they have to build those affordable houses. I just dislike them so much. So ugly :(

In Paris those ugly affordable houses are built way out in the suburbs, not in the central areas, so that is good.
 

granty1

Senior Member
i suppose we do that too, thats what towns like watford are for!! i do hope your not from Watford!!
 

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