Wednesday, January 13, 2010

If a man's tired of London....

I have a real love/hate relationship with London.

I worked in the heart of the West End for twenty years, commuting in from Walton on Thames or Weybridge every day.  This all stopped in 2003 when we upped sticks to Cognac and I noticed some real changes when I went back for The France Show last week-end.

The underground was just as busy as ever and the packed ranks did their utmost to avoid eye contact and to look as miserable as possible.....nothing new there, I was always the same. 

What's different is that pretty much without exception everyone was plugged in to their i-pod and even more wrapped up in their own world. Coming from a village where it takes me an hour to post a letter (I always get collared by at least three neighbours) this was different.

I had a couple of truly excellent meals and there's no doubt that the diversity of restaurants available is unrivalled.  That's the London I love.

Getting to the restaurants from the hotel meant either arguing with the rip off mini-cab ordered by the hotel (he wanted £15 for getting lost on a 5 minute journey....he didn't get it) or wading through streets packed with scowling "hoodies" and "chavs".   That's the London I hate.

Terrific shops/surly assistants, rude shoppers
Great public transport/don't try it with a suitcase
Multicultural/no one has time to help
High speed internet in the room/£15 a day to use it
Small bottle of water by the bed was a nice touch/£5.40 if you drink it though

Yup - I love London dearly but boy was I glad to get home.

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