diamond geezer

 Thursday, September 22, 2016

300 things I love about London
[because it's fifteen 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, the 2012 Olympics, layers of history, nightbuses, investment, world cinema, world cuisine, the world in a city, a Muslim Mayor, London is Open, sunlight on the Thames, the museums in South Kensington, the museums that aren't in South Kensington, not needing a car, the wobbly Millennium Bridge, the City's dragons, a bus stop within 400m, it's quicker to walk, being able to choose from more than two local radio stations, suburbia, Trellick, Balfron, step-free travel, Tate Modern, mudlarking, Hampstead, the view from Hampstead Heath, diversity, acceptance, mind the gap, five 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, the Royal Festival Hall, pavement swagger, ghost signs, ghost stations, 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 Woolwich ferry, Hammerton's Ferry, the plurality of alternative routes, St Pancras station, cultural gravity, the highest pod on the London Eye, lost rivers, not-yet lost rivers, walking up the escalator, decent mobile phone reception, clapping the Marathon, density of infrastructure, free newspapers, the Night Tube, cab drivers, memories embedded in every streetscape, heritage Routemasters, the tiles along the Victoria line, blue plaques, global landmarks, having a local library, 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, Blue Badge guides, the forgotten corner of a Victorian cemetery, the West End, the East End, the Congestion Charge, 24 hour bagel shops, 24 hour fridge-filling, culture on my doorstep, Banksy on the wall, the original of that famous work of art, an unexpected rainbow, deckchairs in Green Park, Roding Valley, Ruislip Lido, the Embankment illuminated, eyeballing a famous person in the street, recognising where a film was shot, Riddlesdown, revisiting Nairn's London, the DLR, sitting at the front on the DLR, meeting up with mates, Totters Lane, 0° longitude, standing in two hemispheres, the City, parklife, knowing when your bus is coming, Citymapper, the Ceremony of the Keys, being alone under the Thames in a foot tunnel, greasy fry-ups, 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, yes they deliver, 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, D Stock, getting caught up in West Ham turfing out, street art, street food, Kenwood, 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, rooftop terraces, gasholders against a bright blue sky, 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, pedestrian countdown lights, postcode identity, hyperlocality, Epping Forest, swiping my Oyster, pay-as-I-go, the smell of bacon from a Cabmen's shelter, undeveloped farmland, the Low Emission Zone, finding myself somewhere you've never been, Northala Fields, high streets that stay open after 5:30, art galleries that stay open after 6, still buzzing on a Sunday evening, always having something to do even when it's raining, Mornington Crescent, pocket parks, atypical roundels, characterful terraces, Denis Severs' House, urban wildlife, a night at the dog track, outstaring a fox, Foyles, youthfulness, a nearby launderette just in case, lights at night, pounding the Loop, free fireworks on Blackheath, the National, the Saatchi, the Serpentine, the Sales, garden squares, suburbs pretending to be villages, actual proper unswallowed Kentish villages, anything that Bazalgette built, one hundred different burgers, the heat island effect, Remain, the Hainault loop, crossing Oxford Circus diagonally, cycle superhighways, living in a medieval village, Sister Ray, walking faster than the traffic, overtaking a jogger, Kew Gardens, standing under the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, living in a city that tourists pay £100 a night to visit, not needing a hotel before catching the red-eye, Spitalfields, King's Cross, never needing to Uber, windmills, forest, hills, fields, Hilly Fields, Strawberry Hill House, the 4th plinth, Norway's gifted tree, the Geffrye at Christmas, the top floor at the V&A, the Sultan's Elephant, gelateria, lavender fields, Limehouse to Little Venice, this not being Ipswich, following in Roman footsteps, stepcounter heaven, plane trees, grime, world-class design, the Freedom Pass, heron-spotting, New Johnston font, so many cinemas, still so many bookshops, wi-fi, 1908, 1948, E20, EL2, RV1, 4G, Zone 6, crossing Westminster Bridge at night on the back of a bike, the skyline at dusk, Eel Pie Island, do not touch the walrus, do not feed the pelicans, Beckton Alp, the Hoover Building, a sewing machine museum, gridlessness, reaching the middle of Hampton Court Maze, long-term planning, wondering what the Turbine Hall will hold next, anything you need within half an hour, if the local branch doesn't stock it ten others might, floating towpaths, legacy, Little Waitrose, international churn, the sheer variety of Theatreland, the contrast between Erith and Twickenham, nipping down to national celebrations, it's only a short dash to the country, knowing the ambulance will get here in time, the British Museum, arthouse pop-ups, brutalist symmetry, some pubs still aren't flats, free stuff-to-do every weekend, whatever I want, anything I need, the anonymity of not knowing my neighbours, being one in nine million, collective consciousness, common ground, independence, invisibility, togetherness, cosmopolitan coexistence, centrality, accessibility, the proximity of possibility, social autonomy, human availability, the fact it's not as scary as out-of-towners think it is, Metro-land, moquette, deserted Thames-side beaches, a 600 square mile playground, the buzz, infinite choice, the city's constant resilience, feeling alive, simply living here.

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