diamond geezer

 Thursday, September 22, 2011

200 things I love about London
[because it's ten years today since I moved here]

Life, nightlife, the sense of history, the Underground, the Overground, canalside strolls, the view from Greenwich Park, the fact there's always somewhere new to discover, cutting-edge architecture, classical architecture, curvaceous Regent Street, the chimes of Big Ben, nightbuses, world cinema, world cuisine, the world in a city, the 2012 Olympics, sunlight on the Thames, buying my Sunday paper on Saturday evening, the museums in South Kensington, the museums that aren't in South Kensington, not needing a car, the wobbly Millennium Bridge, being able to choose from more than two local radio stations, suburbia, Tate Modern, mudlarking, Hampstead, the view from Hampstead Heath, diversity, acceptance, mind the gap, four of Arsenal's Premiership away matches being nearly at home, strolling along the South Bank, Waterloo sunset, the view from the top of anywhere tall, low tide, festivals, sitting in the Radio 4 audience, Trafalgar Square, knowing that I could walk home from Trafalgar Square if I really had to, art-filled piazzas, 100% style, tracing a line on a map, taking the tram, realising that the person drinking next to me in the pub is a celebrity, the plurality of alternative routes, St Pancras station, the highest pod on the London Eye, lost rivers, not-yet lost rivers, decent mobile phone reception, free newspapers, cab drivers, memories embedded in every streetscape, heritage Routemasters, the tiles along the Victoria line, blue plaques, global landmarks, taking a shortcut down a back street I've never walked down before, realising that Dr Johnson was right, scouting the rural outskirts, Hawksmoor, Soane, Holden, watching the dawn over Tower Bridge, watching twin bascules rise, the forgotten corner of a Victorian cemetery, the West End, the East End, 24 hour bagel shops, 24 hour fridge-filling, culture on my doorstep, Banksy on the wall, an unexpected rainbow, deckchairs in Green Park, Roding Valley, the Embankment illuminated, eyeballing a famous person in the street, recognising where a film was shot, the DLR, sitting at the front on the DLR, meeting up with mates, 0° longitude, standing in two hemispheres, the City, parklife, fast trains to the coast, the view from Primrose Hill, far less fog than everyone imagines, snow on terraced rooftops, a good service is operating on all lines, Covent Garden, creative possibilities, the view from the front seat on the top deck of a bus, alleys, tunnels, the middle of Richmond Park, free-roaming deer, being out at 4am, an unexpected smile in the rush hour, the Gherkin, critical mass, Soho, pie and mash, Longplayer, the opportunity to pop into Parliament, street markets, lidos, late-openings, Open House, speeding down the river beneath world famous bridges, bleak estuary strolls, film premières, Farthing Downs, regular flypasts, garden squares, General Roy's cannons, not needing to drive home from the pub, postcode identity, hyperlocality, swiping my Oyster, pay-as-I-go, the smell of bacon from a Cabmen's shelter, undeveloped farmland, finding myself somewhere you've never been, Northala Fields, high streets that stay open after 5:30, art galleries that stay open after 6, always having something to do even when it's raining, Denis Severs' House, urban wildlife, a night at the dog track, the National, the Saatchi, the Serpentine, suburbs pretending to be villages, actual proper unswallowed Kentish villages, anything that Bazalgette built, crossing Oxford Circus diagonally, Sister Ray, walking faster than the traffic, standing under the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, living in a city that tourists pay £100 a night to visit, embankments, windmills, forest, hills, fields, Hilly Fields, the 4th plinth, Norway's gifted tree, the Geffrye at Christmas, gelateria, Limehouse to Little Venice, this not being Ipswich, following in Roman footsteps, New Johnston font, so many cinemas, still so many bookshops, wi-fi, 1908, 1948, E20, EL2, RV1, Zone 6, crossing Westminster Bridge at night on the back of a bike, Eel Pie Island, do not touch the walrus, do not feed the pelicans, Beckton Alp, the Hoover Building, gridlessness, reaching the middle of Hampton Court Maze, wondering what the Turbine Hall will hold next, international churn, the sheer variety of Theatreland, the contrast between Erith and Twickenham, it's only a short dash to the country, the British Museum, arthouse pop-ups, free stuff-to-do every weekend, whatever I want, anything I need, the anonymity of not knowing my neighbours, being one in eight million, collective consciousness, common ground, independence, togetherness, the fact it's not as scary as out-of-towners think it is, Metro-land, moquette, deserted Thames-side beaches, the buzz, infinite choice, the city's constant resilience, feeling alive, simply living here.


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