To many English people, London currently represents affluence and wealth and there is a feeling that the rest of England and the United Kingdom as a whole misses out on everything because London gets it all. Consequently there is some resentment and a North/South Divide.
I have never really resented London and don't really care to much about the North/South Divide; I genuinely enjoy my trips down there, visiting friends and immersing myself in the big city atmosphere with all that entails. A rather splendid train service gets me to London in just two hours.
Mind you, I don’t think I could live there. If you have ever been unfortunate enough to find yourself on the Tube (the underground metro system) during rush hour then you will know what a scary, overcrowded place it is. If you do manage to hop on a train you suddenly find that you don’t just infringe upon the personal space of random people, you actually invade it. Pressed up against a total stranger isn’t pleasant – particularly if that total stranger is a Plastic Mancunian.
|Everyone's thinking the same thing: "I hope the Plastic Mancunians's not on this train!"|
That said, if you can avoid the crush of rush hour, the Tube is a wonderful place to watch people. London is a diverse place with a wide range of cultures visiting or living there. The Tube is by far the best way to explore the city and its surroundings. There is always a Tube station near to most places at the heart of the city.
You could also catch a cab if you are feeling rich, although you probably have to endure a conversation with a good old cockney cab driver who stereotypically have their vast opinions on the world and how to solve all its problems. I’m certain that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, gets most of his ideas from cab drivers.
Mind you, they are impressive simply because in order to be a taxi driver in London, you have to pass a punishing exam called The Knowledge where they have to learn the best routes around the city without ever having to look at a map or relying on satellite navigation systems. They need to learn over 25,000 roads and 50,000 points of interest.
That's an exam I would NOT like to take!
|"Where do you want to go? Tower Bridge?"|
Basically, cockney-rhyming slang developed out of a need by the dodgy characters in London trying to disguise what they were saying in order to hide stuff from the police. Here are some examples:
Apple and Pears – stairs
Trouble and Strife – Wife
Tea Leaf – Thief
Boat Race – Face
Hampstead Heath – Teeth
Plates of Meat – Feet
Barnet Fair – Hair
Brown Bread – Dead
Duke of Kent – Rent
Does this video make any sense to you?
This man is a cockney:
This man isn’t:
That’s just embarrassing!!!
Next year, we’re planning a two centre holiday, starting off with a weekend in London before catching the Eurostar under the Channel Tunnel to spend a few days in Paris. Basically we’re going to be total tourists for a week in two of my favourite European cities.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of London from previous visits.
|The Queen's everywhere. She is now Britain's longest serving monarch. Well done!|
|Tower Bridge on a sunny day|
|I have to be nice to royalty otherwise I'll end up here ...|
|... and these guys will arrest me!|
|Puttin' on the Ritz!|
|The Queen lives here!|
|David Cameron makes bad decisions here!|
|The London Eye - Forget it! I'm scared of heights!|
|No fog today!|
|St Paul's Cathedral.|
|Tower Bridge opened especially for me!|
I'm sure you'll enjoy it if ever you get the chance to visit London. Remember - just nod when cab drivers try to solve the world's problems - and whatever you do, don't say nasty things about their Boat Race or Trouble and Strife!