On London

It’s been six weeks of UK lockdown and I’ve been back home in Glasgow for the same amount of time. Although I love being back, it’s underpinned by an unease, anxiety which comes from the surreal and abrupt change in my life, and concerns over what I will be going back to and when. I miss London a lot, I miss my new NE flat that I had just gotten settled in, and I miss my London friends; this has prompted a list of observations of things I’ve noticed over the past 18 months of living down South.

Savage Gardens on our way to a 90’s party in Tower Hill
  • First up, limescale is a curse and I hate it. I hate the dirty, scummy feel it gives to anything that comes into contact with water.
  • And the tap water is minging too. But not as bad as some people make it out to be, acting like they’re drinking raw sewage water, slight exaggeration.
  • My washing generally takes ages to dry. I think London is more humid. And much, much hotter.
  • People smoke, drink and take more drugs than anywhere else I’ve been, generally take worse care of themselves. Of course this might just be the reprobates I hang around with.
  • A lot of basic plumbing, electricity, buildings are really cobbled together in a hot barely functional mess, flats are fundamentally dodge, this seems to be everywhere.
  • Nothing ever grows mould. I’ve not seen mould since I was in Scotland. Nothing is alive.
  • The red shape neon light that I always thought was a pint is actually a kebab.
Alley near Oxford Circus
  • People call Kensington ‘ken’ as in ‘I work south ken’.
  • I hear phantom accents. It’s impossible to assume where anyone is from. I used to hear Scottish accents on the bus.
  • English pubs are great, really great, especially the hand-pump ale.
Princess Louise pub, High Holborn
  • There are so many famous places I go past on the bus, it’s exciting, I will probably always feel like a tourist. Like getting the night bus from the Strand and going past St Paul’s and Trafalgar Square.
  • There were two mad geese chilling next to the Thames when I walked to Chelsea College of Arts from Vauxhall. I would always feel very concerned about them, they looked lost.
  • There are so many beer gardens, pretty much every pub has a beer garden and there’s at least two pubs on every street. In Glasgow there’s about 5 good beer gardens in the entire city. I guess it’s a weather thing.
  • The blue dot on Google Maps or Citymapper showing your location is quite a lot more unreliable which is extra annoying because you seem to need these apps every time you step out the door. I don’t think I could get lost in Glasgow, but I get lost coming out a different exit at Kings Cross on my way to work.
Installation by Carlos Bungalow, Whitechapel Gallery

Most importantly, my life in London is a real life, full of experiences and feeling, both of very good and very bad types. In Glasgow, home, it feels safe but full of dreams.

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