The Blog

Goodbye, London... It's Been Real

After five years, my disenchantment with a city I'd formerly loved became too powerful to overlook. London is a magical place, but it can also be fucking dismal, tense yet unfeeling, and rushed.

It was nothing short of given that after university, I, along with about 99% of my peers, would move to London to pursue our chosen careers, stay connected and live out our heady youths in the capital's chaotic, iconic sprawl.

"I'll always live here", I projected. The mélange of job prospects, diverse culture, nightlife and a network of close friends and family spelt for me the future - my career, my some-day partner and my social life. What more do you want? All of the above please.

But not London. After five years, my disenchantment with a city I'd formerly loved became too powerful to overlook. London is a magical place, but it can also be fucking dismal, tense yet unfeeling, and rushed.

And it'd be totally disingenuous to recycle the usual explanations that people give for wanting to leave the Big Smoke - unaffordability, gentrification, commercialisation, the desire to start a family and have a dog and a garden and whatever - because, bluntly, none of these really affected me on a micro or day-to-day level.

In fact, you could justifiably call me a textbook accessory in London's sterilisation and mounting economic lunacy: Young southerner graduates, moves to London, gets an internship, gets a job, gets munted, meets boyfriend, inherits some money, buys a flat, breaks up with boyfriend, gets another slightly better job, gets munted some more, gets invited to some weddings, gets curious, gets tired, gets itchy feet and decides it's time to get the fuck out. Sound familiar? Probably.

Couple this with living in a city as all consuming as London, where there's barely time to stop and check yourself - a city with so much going on that it can be terrifyingly claustrophobic, not to mention turbulent with excess, if you are so inclined.

Mere days before leaving London indefinitely, having announced my departure, signed my new contract, booked my one-way flight and said most farewells, I panged, "actually, I'm really going to miss this." Then I got off the train at Victoria Station and power-zig-zagged my way, fists clenched, through the maddening swarm of commuters, onto the overcrowded tube with the shoving, tutting and potpourri of sweat and fetid breath.

"Nah, I'm not going to miss this."

Furthermore, it's all too easy to forget there's a bigger and badder world outside of London. This would become apparent on rarefied occasions when I'd venture outside The Zones. The newly self-styled cosmopolitan snob in me would breathe a sigh of relief upon returning to my flat in Hackney. "Thank God I don't live in (insert pretty much anywhere in the UK that isn't London)."

What an awful way to think. I'd always been fiercely proud and grateful of my rural upbringing, my education and opportunities I'd been given to live in really interesting towns and cities, and study languages and cultures, and here I was convinced there was simply nothing more than London. What a horrid bore.

There is a lot more than London. I know there is. I've seen a glimpse of it and loved it and learned from it. And now I want to see more of it. So much so in fact that I've possibly hurt some people and made some fairly colossal sacrifices too, notably, living in uber-able proximity to my family and friends - my home. Because, for now and the foreseeable future, Copenhagen is my home.

So after five unforgettable, formative, whirlwind years, concluded with an even more tumultuous few weeks of moving countries, I guess this is my belated goodbye to London and all the great things and greater people I love in one of the greatest cities of the world. To quote a song that you may or may not have been exposed to in the last few days: "Hello (and goodbye) from the outside. At at least I can say that I tried."

London, I'm sorry it didn't work out. It's not me; it's not you either. For now, it's us.