Things I don’t miss about London

London. Photo: Claire Doble

I said I’d write this at some point after I posted my Things I’ll Miss About London entry but it seemed a little negative. However, since HI’s back in the UK capital for a conference today, and it’s also two weeks (! only 2 weeks?!) since we packed up our house in Tottenham,  it got me thinking about:

What I don’t miss about London…

  • Swimming Pools All the pools in London are sh*t. Sorry to be harsh but it is true. They are small – usually 25 or 33m ( I heard this is so three lengths is 100m?). There are only two (2!) 50m pools in London and one is outdoors, although heated. As a keen swimmer from a country that is lazy with pools as well as the ocean, I really missed being able to swim easily and pleasantly in London. Zurich has 24 pools for roughly 400,00 people and this week I visited and swam at the Oerlikon Hallenbad. It was great. Like an Aussie pool. Hallelujah!. Of course there may be decent pools in London I never checked out because:
  • Commuting How to convey the terror / boredom / thrill? / anxiety / enforced psychopathic detachment of commuting to work with literally hundreds of thousands of other human beings using a straining-at-the-seams transport system in a megalopolis like London? Unless you’ve done it, you cannot comprehend. If you have, you know what I mean. It’s no wonder it’s often said that one of the top 10 things things that make you happier is a shorter commute to work. In the same vein:
  • John Lewis I know, I know. I love it too… or I thought I did. But somehow that whole Oxford Street ugliness thing, the stress, the busy-ness, the horror, the horror. And the competitive shopping vibe – the fact that shopping is kinda regarded as an enjoyable leisure activity for the family? No.
  • Chicken bones on the street. Along with every other bit of crud, litter, fly-tipped matresses, dog mess etcetera. Disgusting. Nobody cares. London is too big for anyone to have civic pride. HI is often saying London became a world power because of dirt (I think it’s from Peter Ackroyd’s London biography – something about the fact Londoners were too busy working/trading to wash and it’s led to their success and resilience). And I get it – it’s a strength too and the advantage of the huge/uncaring thing is that it means people aren’t all up in your sh*t. But it does wear you down. One time I saw a guy empty his catheter into the gutter at the corner of my street. For reals.
  • English Culture People talk about the stiff upper lip, but en masse, I find English culture can be mawkishly sentimental and soft! They love animals, there’s polite passive aggression, crazy class inequalities, Ant & Dec, plinky-plonky music and “every little helps”.  Aw bless, I love them really. And now I have a whole new culture to cringe at.
  • Tottenham. I want to say I miss it, I’d love to say I loved it, but I don’t and I can’t. I tried really hard to convince everyone – mostly myself – that I did. But it sucks. And a lot of this is due to Haringey Council… ugh. On bad days, Tottenham is a stark example of a combination of all the things I’ve outlined above. On good days, you don’t notice so much. I won’t say I didn’t enjoy the challenge and I know some truly wonderful people who live there but I do not miss the area and I don’t know if I ever will. I’m sorry.


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