I came to London with a few suitcases, a purse full of cash and an internship at a magazine. I had no place to live, no family nearby and all but two friends in the city. The silver lining in all this came in the form of the Boots points I had accrued meaning I could treat myself to a yoghurt for breakfast every day of that internship. Good times.
The first month of my stay in the Big Smoke saw me frantically pound the pavement looking for a home and a job that paid more than expenses. I suffered at the hands of many a Gumtree scam, I slept in hotels* and made friends with owners of every internet cafe in town.
*Rooms in Kings Cross with mattresses and a kettle.
Despite my relentless enthusiasm for the FACT I was going to be a London resident and work at some fabulous media establishment – I ended up temping for the NHS in a darkened room booking appointments for cancer patients.
Yet, even though I’m actually of average intelligence and could see that moving to London in a recession was not the wisest choice – I was always hungry for more.
Eventually, I managed to worm and squeeze my way into the jobs I really wanted by developing a thick skin and an odd appreciation for enforced recruitment freezes. Not being able to hire someone above me meant that I could work two jobs and show how mint I really was. And before you know it, I was buying my food shop at Sainsbury’s and living in N1. I MADE IT!
Now however, I’m nearing my 28th birthday and everyone I know – who shared the same appetite for London living – is either throwing in the towel or moaning about how truly awful it is.
This got me thinking – drum roll for the Carrie Bradshaw style question- does life in London, when you’re not actually from London, have an expiration date? And if it does, what happens when you choose to stay and continue to live your life with a face full of blackheads and an irrational abhorrence for slow walkers?
Dear friends, I do not have the answer I’m afraid because every moan and whinge is justified. But with every negative characteristic mother London has, she possesses a truly fantabolous one too. In order to suppress my guilt at joining the other London haters, I bring to you just that. A grim reality of London life coupled with a positive one …
- You will, at some point, sob uncontrollably on the tube and no one will even look up.
- You can be, wear and do whatever the hell you like and no one can be arsed enough to judge you. They won’t even look at you out of fear of being impolite.
- You will never come out of your overdraft unless you work in the business district. Every line of your bank statement will either be; a £12 after-work cocktail, an £8 Pret lunch or a taxi fare.
- If you are savvy and brave enough you can get public transport EVERYWHERE. No car tax or parking for you, oh no!
- You witness humanity at its worse on the Northern line come Monday morning. Before 8am, the well-to-do yuppies below the river lose their shit and will elbow, face push or actually step on you just to meet their morning target of nestling inside an armpit on their 20 minute journey to work.
- You make friends with so many different people that the restaurant table on your birthday gives the impression you enforced an equal opportunity quota upon recruiting your pals.
- At some point you will pay £15 for one ticket to the cinema.
- You will see celebrities. IN THE FLESH. Ones that you know will impress. You know those friends you have on Facebook but haven’t spoken to since primary school? Them. They will be SO proud of you.
- You will get heart palpitations from too much coffee.
- You can be an absolute freak of nature but I guarantee you, your people are here.
- You will be offered drugs and touched, without invitation, by one of the following; someone that should be in bed before the watershed, a work colleague or a bouncer.
- You will blag yourself into somewhere so FAB you can ride off re-telling the story for life.
- You will develop a hatred for cyclists, cars or bus drivers.
- A bus comes every minute. Do not forget what a joy that really is.
- You will spend 70% of your salary on rent.
- You can be a selective tourist. Some days you’re a Landaner others you just go all out and step inside the map.
- From Boxing Day onwards, if you visit Oxford Street you will be faced with more heat, pollution and evilness than is normally reserved for the depths of hell.
- London is cool. And you know it.