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Give me my dull, parochial life any day
They say when you are tired of London you are tired of life.
I left London after living there – and loving it – for a decade and only go back occasionally. I still love it, but it makes me feel so old and weary.
It is fast and furious – the pace hits you the minute you step off the train at King’s Cross.
Londoners seem to move ten times faster than the rest of the population. It’s like suddenly finding yourself crawling on all fours alongside eight million Usain Bolts at full pace.
My sister, who we were visiting, lives in the thick of it, a stone’s throw from the river and the bustling City. She rushes about at the speed of light. It took us at least three days to catch up.
Everything is quicker, bigger, brasher and bolder, from shops – my daughters’ eyes popped out at the sight of Oxford Street’s enormous Primark – to theatres, clubs, bars, and people.
“There are so many good-looking men here,” my 16-year-old daughter commented. Her younger sister agreed. They dragged us to the ‘in’ shops of the moment, worshipped by teenagers everywhere. Hollister was first – a series of small, barely-lit rooms crammed full of trendy T-shirts and hoodies. After an hour waiting outside I dived in to find them. The place was full of stunningly beautiful people – I felt like Quasimodo shuffling down from the bell tower.
Then it was Abercrombie & Fitch, where a topless hunk greeted us at the door. Customers were having photos taken with him. Despite being the oldest and least attractive person in there, I made sure I got one too. I have it in mind for my profile picture in case I ever get Facebook . Again, the store was packed with georgeous men and women. I half expected to be ushered out by the tradesmen’s entrance.
London is exciting. It gives you a buzz you don’t get anywhere else in the UK. But everything takes so long. At least in the provinces we can pop to the shops or the bank without having to negotiate zones, lanes, barriers and a moving tide of people.
It costs so much too. You only have to step outside and you’re parting with vast sums of cash. And however lovely city parks are, they’re not open countryside. We’re lucky – within a short drive we can reach moors and coast.
Like I was at their age, my daughters are itching to leave, and after numerous visits to my sister, they have their sights set on the capital. But however much I love it – and I do – I wouldn’t swap for the world.