I’m tempted not to write or explain anything, but just leave the title to stand on its own.
“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson
That dates from 1777. Sam Johnson never had to deal with a creaking transport infrastructure and scandalous property prices, to be fair. I left London for many sound reasons, but there are certain things I miss about it.
For starters, it doesn’t shut. It took a while to adjust back to living somewhere that was not open 24 hours a day, and even now I have a wave of revulsion for places that are as good as deserted in the early evening. If you are going to aggregate in clusters, then at least leave the house and take part in the bustle of the life of your town or city.
More than that, though, I miss the cosmopolitan nature of the place. There is everything under the sun to find there, and mostly people aren’t fazed by it. Whatever your persuasion, you can find and coalesce with the like-minded, and people are generally more willing to be broad-minded and live peaceably alongside one another. If I were differently wired, say a transvestite or trans-gender for instance, I would high-tail my butt to London before you could say BDSM dungeon, and never leave. Why put up with narrow provincial attitudes and discrimination when you can live in a place where you are mostly allowed to get on with being yourself?
That is the appeal, and the draw, of London. For me, anyway. I have never lived abroad but I might imagine that capital cities the world over share that same characteristic to some degree or another (although please correct me if I’m wrong).
I also have a natural liking of the slightly seedy, edgy undertone of big cities. The feeling that there is always something slightly different and even dangerous lurking just beneath the surface. That you could find anything if you cared to look. I once spent an afternoon in the company of a crack addict I found wandering on the street in Brixton. It was educational and not unpleasant.
I swapped all that for the endemic casual racism of West Yorkshire. It’s a place where you are routinely told
“It’s hard not to be a racist when you work/live where I do”
I am bored of hearing this. Actually, it’s not hard. Just treat everyone with respect, and open your mouth if others don’t do that. My rude awakening was attending a presentation by a firm of Human Resource consultants (with national clout, not a local firm) who proceeded to launch into discussions of how to avoid employing people whose “face didn’t fit” without falling foul of the law, for the benefit of the exclusively white audience. I was appalled. Welcome to Yorkshire. Land of the free.
It’s not everyone, of course. But the stark contrast of some of the very blinkered prejudicial attitudes I routinely encounter, to the place I came from, often jars.