Growing up in Rotherham before spending the entirety of my defining years in the north of England, it’s safe to say that I am a Northerner through and through. When the time came for me to finish university then and head off down to London Dick Whittington style to find my fortune you can imagine it raised a few eyebrows. As one of my cousins put it quite bluntly, “So you’re gonna be wanna them cunts naa?” Admittedly, this might have been reference to being a journalist rather than geographical location but for the sake of this piece we’ll pretend it was the latter.
Here are a few of my most important discoveries since becoming a ‘southern-softie’ for any would be Yorkshire aliens wanting to emigrate.
Before moving south of the Yorkshire border, if I ever spent anything approaching £3 on a pint I would have had to say three Hail Marys and ring an exorcist. These days if I’m spending less than £3.50 it’s a good day. Alcoholic drinks in London cost a shitload and regularly leave you gasping for air before (inadvisably) whacking down your cash card. Last week I spent £19 on two single vodkas and genuinely thought I was going to shit a kidney.
Last week I spent £19 on two single vodkas and genuinely thought I was going to shit a kidney.
Perhaps it’s because of the great paedophile and terrorism scares of the nineties and noughties but nobody, especially young people, can seem to talk to anyone. Striking up a conversation with a stranger it seems is the social equivalent of wiping your cock on someone’s sandwich. Worse still is striking up a conversation on the tube. There seems to be an inbuilt fear in people in this city that talking whilst commuting will result in either imminent death or a nasty bout of the cat aids.
In London, everybody runs everywhere. Southerners, it seems are without the ability to take their time and everything must be done as fast as possible. Upon taking my first baby steps in the big smoke, my first dabble in the morning tube run was one of the most terrifying moments of my adult life. Bodies zig-zagging everywhere, bags swinging, people coughing, it’s like being in a market in Marrakech. Only, you’re not being steadily guided into a shop against your own volition you’re being pushed into a fast tin can by some twat from the FT who, ‘can’t be late.’
Previously, the only time that I have seen a rush like it was when Dolly Parton visited the Magna Centre in Rotherham. Why the city of London doesn’t just wake up a little earlier I will never understand. Just five extra minutes early and you could enjoy your morning commute without knocking the wind out of me with your man bag and probably also live an extra five years longer having avoided that stress related heart attack.
Despite a constant air of food based snobbery towards us northerners, who will –let’s face it- eat anything, there are more shit takeaways in London than anywhere else in the country. Literally streets upon streets upon streets of the things, dripping with the greasiest most disgusting food in the land and they are always busy. Proof if anything then that Jamie Oliver should have probably started a little closer to home before he decided to embark upon a spot of culinary refurbishment in Rawmarsh.
Rubbish is simply piled up in the streets once a week for a collection that sometimes never even comes and this is supposedly an alright bit of London
London is a dirty place and not even in a charming mining town kind of way. The place is filthy and disgusting, make no odds about it. In the part of the east end where I live, a wheelie bin (something I foolishly believed was essential) is a dreamlike luxury. Rubbish is simply piled up in the streets once a week for a collection that sometimes never even comes and this is supposedly an alright bit of London. In most places in the world you’re never usually more than ten feet away from a rat, here, there’s probably one sat next to you smoking your cigarettes and hogging the remote. The place properly stinks and not in a cool bohemian indie ‘I just fucked Pete Doherty’ kind of way.
In the north we have special bars devoted to cheesy pop and hair metal. The perfect places to let loose, wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care and if you’re lucky, bag a granny. In London there are special bars devoted to grime or synth space rave and a million other genres that you have never heard of. Venues only ever play cool music that you can’t really dance to, unless you’re willing to shell out a grand to go to a fancy nightclub in which they only play JLS. Quite frankly, if you aint rich or a twenty four hour (cool) party person you’re going to struggle to have fun.
Now it’s not that I’m totally neurotic or anything (just ask my ex-girlfriend... and while you’re at it find out when she’s going to return my DVDs...) but since coming to London, one thing has been confirmed. I am going to die alone. Everyone in London is either beautiful, well dressed and successful or beautiful, well dressed and better than you. The pressure to look good and stay on form in this city is utterly debilitating. Even the calibre of online dating desperados in London is a few notches above your usual. Being this average looking is already a constant effort without having to up my game just to achieve a London standard of mediocrity. Growing old is swiftly becoming a very terrifying prospect indeed....
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