Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cheat

I left London indefinitely on Saturday, so I'm cheating by writing this post 400 miles from London. Still! I made the rules for the London blog, so if I'm gonna break them it might as well be right at the end.

I've lived in London for a year, and three very packed weeks in 2009, which is why this blog is two years old. I love the city more than everywhere else in the world put together, and the biggest thing I've learned about it is that London is absolutely bloody tiny. If it wasn't tiny, you wouldn't be able to walk across it.

I didn't touch the underground at all in the three weeks I spent in London a couple of years ago, but this time I had an Oyster Card and it is dog-eared. Though last week I was fined for having no money on my Oyster Card. It was the Man's fault. The Man let me through and didn't read the error. Stick it to the Man.

But I always feel safe with the underground – not in the sense that it's secure, because it isn't; but in the sense that there's always one just around the corner, and it'll zip you anywhere. You can't get lost on the underground. That said, it's fun to get lost. So, walk.

My favourite place in 2009 was Camden, because it's all busy and young and stupid. My favourite place now is the South Bank, because it empties your pockets without being violent. It financially kills you but leaves a rose on the pillow. It feels like you're at the centre of the universe, and walking up and down the South Bank it looks to me like everyone else feels the same way too.

The most enjoyable place I imagine living in is Kentish Town, because it's sort of cosy and unified. I realised just the other day that the Banksy piece I saw in Kentish Town was a tribute to king tagger “VOX”, and sure enough I remember seeing about a dozen VOXes in the underpass. Some of the happiest people I've ever met are from Kentish Town.

Elephant and Castle is the grubbiest looking place I've been to. It'd be illegal to keep battery hens in the conditions some human beings are forced to live in. Elephant and Castle is somehow both wide-open and tightly-packed. I've never met anyone from Elephant and Castle.

In contrast there's Piccadilly, which is my least favourite place in London. It looks amazing, and Piccadilly Circus is something at night, but the passers-by are obnoxious, and just walking along the street feels like a damn chore. A chore you have to dress up for.

Westminster is too famous, it feels like you're walking through a postcard bought by a visiting Korean businessman, and to enjoy London's famous parks I think you have to be thoroughly in denial that the countryside actually exists. If you get excited by ponds and grass and duckies, then come to Scotland and you'll be changing your trousers every hour.

Lewisham I spent a year in, and it's big and gross and feels to me like an inferior version of Aberdeen. That doesn't mean I dislike it though. And in New Cross is Goldsmiths campus, which is bricky and good-looking, apart from its trademark tangle-sculpture on the Ben Pimlott building.

Goldsmiths is very alive, liberal, modern and sure-fire, but with fatally chaotic administration. From miscalculating tuition fees, to disabling a computer room on the day of a major hand-in, to having a careers advice service you're only able to book at exactly 9AM, to expiring a Halls of Residence contract a week before a course finishes, I guess the famously innovative methods of Goldsmiths have a negative effect on its less creative areas.

And I don't regret a second of it. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat – this specific university, this specific accommodation, and this specific course.

I love this pointless blog. So I'll try and set it up again, either by getting back to London, or by not calling it a London blog. Maybe it could be a Manchester blog. Or a Bristol blog. Or a Cardiff blog. Or a Congo blog.

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