My kind of town? I hope not…
The deep antipathy I felt for London, a grudge borne since my childhood, is a matter of record. I thought I had got over it. But travelling on public transport around this city does serve to remind me at times of how deeply and truly crappy it is at times.
London is a city where the milk of human kindness has curdled and festered, becoming some sort of hideous cheese, covered in a poisonous mould that is then forced down your throat until you choke.
It is a city with its own language. Dr Johnston, compiler of the first modern English dictionary, once declared that the finest prospect a Scotsman sees is the road to London. Dr Johnston was obviously compiling, not a dictionary of the English language, but a dictionary of London English, a strange language where “please” is a demand carrying a threat of violence, and which must be pronounced, at least on the train and tube, with a whining snarl, and preceded by the words “can you move down”.
In London English “sorry” is not an apology, but an admonishment to you for having the audacity to be where the utteror’s foot wound up, an accusation that your life and job are nowhere near as important as the other person’s.
Throughout the world a suit is merely a more formal means of dressing, and pin-stripe is simply a personal preference of fabric. In London a suit is a sign of entitlement, and pin-stripe marks you out as the most moral and worthy person on the platform, of infinite more importance and class than the other plebs whom you are forced to endure for the five minutes from Clapham Junction to Victoria.
It is often remarked that the British know how to make an orderly queue. Such knowledge is forgotten on the underground at rush hour, where the manic belief that this particular train is the last train out of Saigon takes hold, and people will push, shove and jostle to squeeze on-board, because there won’t be another train for one whole minute. “Look, I can see some airspace above that man’s head – we can pack at least another two people in there!”.
Twice a day, five days a week, for the rest of your life… Is it any wonder I hate living here? And then have nightmares that I’ll wind up staying here forever…