I actually enjoy living in London. It’s one of the best cities in the world; let’s not forget this. It has incredible history, it has character, it has pockets of charm. Pollution is reducing at a lovely gentle rate, which means you can walk around London all day and your bogies won’t turn as black as they used to (apparently this happens, I mean I’ve never checked, it happened to a friend, why would you even ask me about that?). It’s a multi-cultural dream; hardly anyone is actually from London but we’ve all come here for a reason - the sheer volume of stuff to do. Palaces, markets, street food, river walks, and art galleries for when it’s pissing it down and it’s only 11am so it’s not quite legit to go to the pub yet. On top of that, the tube is absolutely bloody brilliant - cynical commuters may not think so, but go to New York and try and figure out the Subway; you’ll be back in no time, hugging the dodgy brown seats on the Bakerloo line and promising things will be different this time.
All in all, you don’t actually need much to entertain you in London. You, your mates, and a choice of nearly 4,000 pubs should suffice.
So why, then, is there an army of hipster wankers hidden in London’s bearded depths trying to stop us doing lovely normal London things such as lying in bed nursing colossal hangovers and hiding if anyone rings the doorbell? Not a day goes by at the moment without my inbox being bombarded with ludicrous social events that I know, like I really know, that I do not want to do - yet I still click, some part of me clearly wanting whatever it is to be the next really cool thing that I can try and impress my 54 Instagram followers with by being the first idiot to do it.
EVER WANTED TO FLOAT DOWN THE THAMES IN A HOT TUB WHILST DRINKING BOTTOMLESS CRAFT BEER?
Well, actually, no. For a start, the Thames is a floating cesspit of waste - if I get splashed with any of that rancid river water there’s a strong possibility I’ll start to dissolve. Secondly, the bottomless aspect of bottomless craft beer is probably asterisked to fuck meaning you’ll be lucky to get two mini cans of something probably called Rotting Zombie Wolf before you’re deposited on the shore in Wapping, shivering as you realise you don’t have a towel and your hair is inexplicable, wearing a look of determined joy on your sad little face. It’s at this point you admit you’re £40 down, miles from a tube station and your only option is an ill-advised Boris Bike back to civilisation.
DRINK HOT GIN ON A ROOFTOP IN AN AUTHENTIC NATIVE AMERICAN WIGWAM!
Who the fuck wants hot gin? It’s served cold for a reason. And put the wigwam back where you found it, I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be recklessly flinging an apparently authentic wigwam around on the rooftop of a warehouse in East London - unless, of course, it’s not authentic at all… But you wouldn’t lie to us, would you? Why would you sell 250 tickets for an event with only one tiny wigwam? Why would you heat gin up? WHY WON’T YOU LEAVE US ALONE?
I recently fell foul of one of these very emails. This was why on the hottest day of the summer this year, a lovely shiny Saturday. I found myself traipsing across London to Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally if you’re one of those types) and throwing myself around what claimed to be Europe’s largest inflatable obstacle course. Imagine this: hundreds and hundreds of adult humans in underused gym kit queuing indoor on the hottest day of the year to fling themselves around a glorified bouncy castle. Barefoot. People were shepherded on to it in groups of six at two-minute intervals, meaning if you weren’t quick enough wrestling through the inflatable (obviously) palm trees then another herd of grunting joy-seekers came hurtling at you ready to stamp on your neck. It was hotter than the core of the Earth. When I finally rolled off the end of the course, face down on the gum-stamped floor of Alexandra Palace, the only thing I said was, “I’m not exaggerating but I think I might be dead.” It took me seven consecutive pints to get over that one.
Living in London subjects us all to the wistful sighs of our home friends, who stare dreamily in to the middle distance whilst saying, “But it’s all right there on your doorstep! You can go to Leicester Square whenever you want! Or to a show! Oh, go to a show, go tonight! Go and see STOMP!” To which we reply that Leicester Square is never OK, and that if you were to ever find yourself watching grown men bang dustbin lids around you’d realise that you’d finally hit rock bottom. Those of us who actually live in London spend our weekends joyfully parting with crisp tenners in exchange for flat pints, desperate to enjoy the city we pay extortionate, tear-inducing amounts to live in. And this is exactly where the hipster wankers come in - they are mercilessly preying on our need to make the most of London, to squeeze every last dubious experience out of it before we capitulate and move to Peterborough. They know that we want to be able to prove all the naysayers (no, I’m not 84, but it felt like a naysayers kind of moment) wrong, the ones who say we’re unstoppable morons for spending 88% of our money on rent and the other 12% on street food and beer.
There are more than enough things to do in London without resorting to events like this, but I imagine they’ll stick around and get even more ridiculous than they already are - because despite everything, some of them are actually good. In between the over-priced hype there are some gems, which does make it worthwhile trawling through the crap - it’s all a matter of knowing when to say no to the temporary plastic igloos on the Southbank being flogged at £600 a pop and when to say yes to the awesome new independent street food market that’s popped up right outside your favourite pub.
EAT FONDUE AND DRINK CHAMPAGNE WHILST ICE SKATING AT THE TOP OF THE SHARD AND WATCHING FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF!*
*There’s a chance I made the last one up.