27 February 2008

And the Thames flows with honey...

Sometimes I forget about the animosity some people in other parts of the UK feel towards Londoners. I don't really get it, but then again, I have only been briefly outside the capital. This jealousy seems to extend to the Expat community.

Maybe life here is relatively easy compared to other parts of the UK. I don't know. I do know that just because you can probably find anything you want in London, it doesn't mean that it's easy or cheap to get to. London is massive geographically, congested, full of fees if you do drive (congestion charges, parking fees, huge fines if you misinterpret signs and park in the wrong place at the wrong time), and while we have extensive public transport, it's very expensive and not always up and running. Many of the places where people in smaller cities or towns shop routinely lie on the outskirts of London.

Sure we have access to some fabulous places to see and do and wonderful things to buy. It doesn't mean that it's all easy to get to. In a way, it was easier for me to live without a car in my small city in the States than here in London.

I guess a lot of the criticism come from the generalisation that Londoners are very centred upon the capital and don't think about life outside the region. I don't know how much this is the case. I used to hear similar things in New York State about the New York Metropolitan area. Even if it were true, this view often ignores the importance of major financial and commercial centres to the economic health of an entire nation. You may need to invest or focus more on the huge cities if you want to be able to live comfortably in your small town. Of course, if you are ready to reject all forms of dependence on institutionalized capitalism, you probably don't need to worry about places like London. You wouldn't have to worry about the time and financial investment. But I somehow doubt that the people who bitch about this most are freegans (who arguably need traditional capitalism to survive) or off the grid living a simple, barter based lifestyle that is largely self-sufficient.

When I walk out my door, the streets are not paved with gold. The Thames doesn't flow with honey within the limits of London. I can't go down and search for cockles and diamonds on its banks within the Greater London area. I am not bombarded with thousands of choices. Usually it's the same choices over and over repeated every mile or so. Starbucks. Tesco. Nero. Next. Boots. KFC. McDonalds. Sainsburys. Curry's. Repeat with a few variations thrown in. And guess what? None of it is that close to me. I reckon most people in London don't live within a mile of the closest High Street.

Enough ranting from me, I suppose. We had an earthquake here last night. I felt it despite the fact we were 150 miles away. Only one reported casualty, which is good. Just a lot of excitement as earthquakes, particularly those over 5.0 on the Richter Scale are pretty rare here.

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