Fib #2 I love London.
Oh crap bags. What have I just admitted to? This is a cardinal sin. "You don't love London? Then why don't you crawl back up to your coal mine and take your flat cap with you?!" It's probably a similar sentiment many English people had last week, feeling rejected when a large handful of Scottish people voted to do their own tax returns. "Go on, bugger off then. See how you cope without us. Bet you won't even understand the form!" It's not the done thing to admit that a long-term supposedly loving relationship is perhaps not as perfect as both parties first thought.
It's not that I don't like London. That couldn't be further from the truth. I have just bought a property here - it is officially my home! London is where my friends are, my career, my memories from the last 12 years. It's just sometimes I don't love it. Sometimes in fact, here goes, *swallow*, I positively loathe it. Like most other London dwellers I hate the obvious stuff. I detest getting the tube at rush hour and ending up with my nose nestled into an armpit that hasn't seen Radox for quite some time. I hate that in order to see my oldest and dearest best friends, a calendar comparison marathon ensues and a date is found no sooner than one whole month away. When that date finally arrives, it takes us both an hour to reach each other via three modes of transport and the same again to return. This results in what should be the nicest day of the month, feeling a little teeny weenie bit like a chore. But most of all, and I don't know if I'm alone here, I hate that even though there is a more eclectic choice of restaurants, theatres, parties, friends, lovers, shops and parks than most other cities in the world, I often feel dissatisfied and still crave more.
Recently I have been making regular trips to Nottingham, my university town. Upon arrival, having neglected Nottingham for the last ten years, I was struck by how small it is compared to London. A quick check of Trip Advisor told me that Nottingham has 1,132 restaurants worth reviewing compared to London's 17,250. "Wow, this could get a bit suffocating" I thought, "Only 1,132 restaurants. At some point I will have to start visiting the same restaurant twice..." I was surprised when I walked around Hockley, Nottingham's 'Creative Quarter' one Monday morning. It was 9am but none of the cafes were to open till 930am. "How am I meant to get my skinny minnie mocha choca soya latte and spend my morning procrastinating on Facebook?" After a brief out of London "Starbucks opens at 6am in the city goddamit!" wobble, I realised I didn't have to run anymore. In fact I couldn't run - someone had pulled the plug from my treadmill. It was then something miraculous happened during my two days holiday - the script I had been trying to write in London for the last 12 months started forming clearly in my head. It was like Carol Vorderman had written out the formula for me on my very own Countdown white board. Why had it taken so long? The idea for the script was borne out of an experience on a London bus, an experience that wouldn't have happened in Nottingham. So why couldn't the seed that had been discovered and planted in London ever germinate properly within it?
London is eclectic, exciting, beautiful, vibrant and the impetus for countless incredible creative ideas. But in the same way as not spending any time away from a lover who offers these things, not only does one become blind to these attributes, we often end up exhausted by them, unable to see why we loved all their joie de vivre in the first place. Samuel Johnson famously said that if a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. But perhaps it's not so much being bored of London than simply being genuinely weary, flipping exhausted in fact.
So it's perhaps not London herself I sometimes loathe but it's how she makes me feel when I'm in her company for an extended period. As the most junior of psychologists will tell you, you can't control someone else's actions but you can control how you respond to them. So if London wants to be busy and hectic and ever on the go, it's up to me to decide whether to stay in her company 24/7 or take regular spells away.
Yes at times I hate you London but let me have brief affairs with other great lovers such a Nottingham and I will return to you refreshed, at peace and grateful for everything you have to offer. I can't guarantee we'll be lovers for eternity, but right now you make me very happy. And right now that's enough.