Not an actual London, of course. I mean – maybe they do… There’s a Little London on the Isle of Man, there’s East London in South Africa, there’s a London Island in…. Chile? I think…?
I’ll have to look that one up.
[later: looked it up, yes – close to the Western end of the Beagle Channel.]
But I’m not referring to lazy colonial nomenclature. I mean the essence of London. For many people, that means excitement, bright lights, a cosmopolitan lifestyle and world-famous landmarks.
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.
I love London. But in small doses.
Could I live there? No.
Oxford seemed a good compromise. All that London razzmatazz was just an hour away, but equally also a world away. Much like someone else’s cute but irritating toddler, it was nice to be able to play politely for a while, then hand it back over, make one’s excuses, and leave.
[Gets out broad brush]
London is a deeply impersonal, insular place. Gone are the days of the friendly cockney market traders. They’ve been replaced by soulless automatons, looking out only for number one. Maybe I shouldn’t blame them – maybe it’s the city that has shaped the people who have then shaped the city. A vicious Circle Line.
Alan Partridge gets it:
Go to London! I guarantee you’ll either be mugged or not appreciated.
Catch the train to London, stopping at Rejection, Disappointment, Backstabbing Central and Shattered Dreams Parkway.
Of course, it might just be me. Square peg, round hole and all that.
But no. London is often not a nice place to be. Unless you belong.
All of which leads me back to the question in the title of the post. And ‘m pretty sure that everyone in SA will agree that out local London is right here under Table Mountain.
Cape Town isn’t exactly London… squeezed between the mountain and the ocean, the geography and its Apartheid history dictate its society.
But can it compare? Sure it can.
Because yes. Cape Town is often not a nice place to be. Unless you belong.
In saying this, I’m not suggesting that I don’t belong here. At least, I feel that I belong here as much as anywhere else I’ve ever lived.
I’m also not trying to criticise the city for being the way it is. Cities evolve, and as individual residents we have very little control over what direction that evolution takes. But I do find it interesting that if you were asked to single out a city in either of the countries in which I have lived that fitted this description, you wouldn’t hesitate to name London and Cape Town.
Not Birmingham or Johannesburg. Or Manchester and Durban. Or Leicester and Bloemfont-look I think you get my point.
So – is there a London (or a Cape Town) in your country? Or, if you’re in the UK or SA, do you agree with what I wrote above?