I’ve been back from my holiday for just less than a week and already I feel the crushing reality of city living weighing on my shoulders.
London is cool, don’t get me wrong. You can drink all night, and then get any cuisine delivered to you no matter what time you stumble into your flat. We have millions of taxi companies (RIP Uber) to get you home at night if need be, as well as a night tube and night busses. The architecture is incredible, and if you’re looking for something a little unusual, I can guarantee you’ll find it if you look hard enough. There are endless restaurants, cafes, bars, shops all at your disposal – if you can afford them, of course.
But London is also such damn hard work. A simple task like popping into town ends up being a half-day extravaganza because of the hassle of getting in, battling with tourists, and having to double check on Google maps for the precise location of the store you’re after. Shopping is stressful, doing the weekly food shop is stressful, toing and froing from work is stressful, every last little thing is stressful.
London is also horrendously polluted. I don’t even feel bad about my casual smoking habit, just living here is doing significantly more damage to my lungs than my ‘10 fags on a Friday’ habit. Oh, and it’s fucking disgusting. Today for example, I got onto a tube carriage in the middle of the afternoon that smelt of actual piss, as though someone had just a moment ago yanked off their pants and done an enormous wee all over the seats. Needless to say I chose to stand on that journey.
Brighton however, is quite the opposite. Where London is persistently voted one of the most miserable cities to live in, Brighton always comes out on top. Brighton is geographically small but culturally rich, with winding lanes hosting quirky shops ready and waiting to be explored. Like London, there are hundreds of pubs, restaurants and bars, but crucially your mates will never be half an hour away somewhere you’ve never heard of on the wrong side of the river – Brighton is totally walkable in every direction. The air is fresh and the people are friendly. Where Londoners march though the city with faces like thunder tutting at passers by, the people of Brighton greet you with a smile, apologise if they bump into you, and keep their rubbish confined to a bin. God, I miss it.
But London is where I am and London is where I will stay for the foreseeable future. I suppose it’s fair to ask, if i’m so underwhelmed what on earth am I doing here? Honestly, it makes sense career-wise, and I thought it would be cool to live in the capital, which it is, I guess.
It’s getting easier; the longer i’m here the more a get to know the city, inevitably the more I feel at home. As I said earlier, it has its perks. But I don’t think it’s ever going to fill me with joy in quite the same way that Brighton did.