To all the cynics out there who wake up each morning with a frown and a bad word for London. Why? Judging by some of the recent media coverage it appears that Chicken Licken is spreading the word that the sky is falling. And it is about to land on London.
Well if it does, we'll manage. London always has. That's one reason why it is the greatest city on earth because against all odds, this vast piecemeal urban sprawl of ancient villages and new developments hangs together and works with an attitude like nowhere else.
London - how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Peerless pubs such as the Victoria in Bayswater; breweries and brew-pubs (such as the Botanist in Kew); the tradition of dissent and protest; creativity; free museums such as Sir John Soane's; parks and open spaces; the variety of cuisines; the plethora of spots for afternoon tea; the river; the bicycle hire scheme; markets; sport; cultural activities; the South Bank Centre; the landmarks; architecture; the tolerance of Londoners; the fact that a person who lives here can be who they want to be.
As an adopted Londoner I adore this place - even the bad things about the city (such as white van men who speed down narrow roads purposely aiming for cyclists) make the good things about it seem even better. I am so pleased to live in London and so proud of this unique city that I collaborated with composer Emily Leather, and wrote the lyrics for an anthem to celebrate it. The song is called 'London Town' and it is positive and jolly with a catchy tune that may even spur its listeners to march down the Old Kent Road decked out in pearly buttons. I had not written a song before and now I have I am hooked! What fun it is to come up with the perfect rhyme. My favourite line in the song is 'It's on the prime meridian and makes us go all giddy on, our pride for London Town'. And because there is a big sporting event coming up (did you know?) we've also recorded a version called 'Sporting Town' - same tune and song structure - different lyrics. We're donating a percentage of royalties on both songs and ringtone downloads and merchandise (including a new flag for London designed by Louisa Fitch) to two London charities and also to Oxfam.
Emily and me are now plotting an event for later in the year to get Londoners singing out with pride for the Big Smoke because if there was ever a year to be proud of London then this is it. And not least because singing together spreads joy, builds communities and has proven physical and mental health benefits. How brilliant that something so enjoyable is good for us too.
I'm with Dr Samuel Johnson and his quote "When a man is tired of London he is tired of life for there is in London all that life can afford." So to London's naysayers may I suggest that you sing a happy song - it changes everything!
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