“I love this city. Defiantly, pigheadedly, maybe even sometimes rudely”by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett / April 23, 2018 / Leave a comment
“I like London, for a day or two as long as I can leave again,” says the man at hotel breakfast, who has asked me where I live. He is from Worcester but I do not say anything about that. We are in rural Snowdonia, a place popular with tourists because of the beautiful scenery. And it is, indeed, beautiful, when the wet mist of rain clears long enough for you to see it.
It is where I grew up, mostly, and I left as soon as I was able to, bored and restless, desperate for the city. Perhaps that is why I love London so much; it is with the fierceness of the recently converted, like some are with Jeremy Corbyn, but in my case it is with a whole place. I am defensive of it, irritated by detractors. But then again my cousin has never lived anywhere else in his life and loves it passionately, too.
London gets a bad rap from the rest of the country. It is a parasite, sucking resources from the regions. A cesspit of knife crime and vegan wankers and Muslims (Londonistan, is the nickname given to the city by paranoid xenophobes who do not live here, who do not belong in this city not because of the colour of their skin, but because of the narrowness of their minds, and they feel it.) You can walk down the street and not hear a single word of English spoken, an ex-boyfriend’s mother complained to me when I was 17. And I just thought, “isn’t that incredible, I can’t wait to get there.” A global city, with a Mayor at the helm who refuses to buy into narratives of division, who told Europeans after Brexit, “you are all welcome here,” who launched a campaign, #LondonIsOpen, to tell the world so.
Why would you want to live in London? people from “home” ask me, and I wonder, why wouldn’t you?
There are plenty of reasons to moan, of course, and we’d be reading from the same hymn sheet: the high property prices, the extortionate rents, gentrification, pollution, M&M’s World. I know all this, but like millions of others I have chosen to be here. This choice makes us seem peculiar to strangers, but then Londoners never really care what strangers think, do they?
I come back to the city…