John B makes many good points here. So, curmudgeonly as always, I’ll disagree with something. He says:
London isn’t like other cities. It’s better than all the others put together, for a start.
Pish and tush. London’s crap. Here’s why:
1. Women. Whaddya call a good-looking woman in London? An Australian. It’s prodigiously rare to see an attractive woman in London. And they don’t grow on me when I meet them. Helen Fielding put Bridget Jones in London for a reason. London women are obsessed with self and “career” – no intelligent person over the age of 30 has a “career” FFS. Soaps reflect this perfectly. Corrie and Emmerdale have babes a-plenty. The female cast of Eastenders could munt for England.
2. Pubs. Over-crowded with too few seats (a natural result of high rents). London landlords cannot keep beer. And what happened to beer mugs and cockle-sellers?
3. Concert audiences. In London, they think they’re doing the performer a huge favour just by showing up. The sheer variety of fuckwit you get at any London gig is one of the few miracles of nature as yet unexplored by David Attenborough (who of course comes from a truly great city).
4. Roads. Londoners have never understood the purpose of these. Instead, they are used as popular venues for car parks, holes and police roadblocks (though these are, of course, never intended to catch serious criminals).
5. Their stupid pride in fake multiculturalism. Londoners think they’re open to foreign cultures simply because they’ve got a Polish cleaner and have a curry sometimes. For me, though, the amazing thing about London is just how white it is: I don’t remember the last time I saw a turban or sari.
6. Kids. Are worse behaved in London than elsewhere. I don’t mean the chavs – they’re everywhere. Middle-class parents in London have less discipline over their kids than parents in the rest of the country. Go into Waterstone’s in Hampstead on a Saturday afternoon. You’ll soon see Thomas Hamilton’s point.
7. London is a capital city. It cannot, therefore, be admirable – any more than Washington DC can be the best part of the US. Most of central London, in its architecture and armed police, reminds us that the city is founded upon power and oppression. Of course, Liverpool and Bristol were built on the slave trade. But they don’t take pride in advertising the fact, as London does.
8. London has produced remarkably few great people. For centuries, London has had about one-fifth of the English population. It should therefore have produced one-fifth of our greatest citizens. I don’t think it has. One rough gauge is the BBC’s poll of 100 greatest Britons. Excluding monarchs, Londoners make up only 3 of the top 30 places: Bowie, Baden-Powell and Faraday. Sure, there are loads of faults with the poll. But you’d have to go some to get London up to its weight. This is no accident. Power and progess don't mix. London is the centre of one. The rest of Britain produces the other.
On all these counts, London is so rubbish that I'd go so far as to say I prefer Scotland.
Natch, there are some things to be said for London: Arsenal, Hampstead Heath and Regents Park. But I – like all intelligent people in London– am here only because of work. Give me the idiocy of rural life any day.