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Source: (consider it) Thread: London
Heavenly Anarchist
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When I was young and single in London I went to a museum or art gallery most Saturdays. I also went to the theatre regularly, though some of this was helped out by working at a small hospital near the Barbican (they fill empty seats by giving free tickets to local hospitals!). But I also bought tickets to shows, I made an effort to visit the Royal Opera House and the ballet, for instance, as they were entirely new to me due to my upbringing. I used my free time in London to explore cultural experiences that I'd never had the chance to before. I loved it.
I see 'vibrant' as meaning interesting and lively and also associate it with the mixing of cultures.

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Badger Lady
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:

Incidentally, how often do you Londoners go to these theatres and museums? It's not exactly as if I go to every play at the Pomegranate as it is*; I'm not sure how having more theatres would be much different! Where do you find the time? My time is already full without having them so I just don't see what the benefit would be.

*Actually, I'm not sure when I last went. Probably years ago.

Pretty often. I try to as I didn't want to live in London (been hear 8 years) and never exploit that fact. So Last week I went to the hear the
Roll of Honour read at the Tower of London poppy installation (it's amazing, I'd recommend any one in London takes a trip to Tower Hill to see them).

This week I'm going to the Science Museum Late Night Opening (press all the buttons! Without kids! For free!).

Over the summer I try and make it to the BBC Proms . I do theatre and stuff too (generally when I have visitors).

In case it isn't obvious, I love living in London.

[ 27. October 2014, 12:35: Message edited by: Badger Lady ]

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quetzalcoatl
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Yes, in my young and salad days, I was a complete culture vulture. We went to the cinema probably twice a week; went to every major art exhibition; theatre quite a lot, and so on. So London was a kind of groaning table laden with baked meats.

I have slowed down now, but still try to keep up with the exhibitions, although they tend to be expensive. At the moment, for example, there is Rembrandt, Turner, Malevich, Egon Schiele, William Morris, Constable, the Gothic imagination, Rossetti, pause for breath.

Also, my wife often visits artists in their studios and homes, which I don't do.

I was out several weeks ago photographing archaeopteryx in the Science Museum, in case any creationist should try to mug me. And I packed in a visit to the National Gallery to have a look at their paintings by Pieter de Hooch, one of my favourites. Both of these visits were free.

Of course, not everybody is into this stuff. But London is the knibs if you are.

[ 27. October 2014, 12:50: Message edited by: quetzalcoatl ]

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Curiosity killed ...

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Last week I went to a talk at the Imperial War Museum on Tuesday, discussion about the exhibition of WW1 art and we got a private view and on Friday was at the BBC for recording of Counterpoint with the return of Paul Gambaccini. I missed two recordings on Sunday and Monday because I was too late out of work.

I was in Huddersfield over the weekend (and met balaam and LRP on Saturday night).

This week, I'm about to go to the Science Museum and want to go to the National Gallery (probably tomorrow between two recordings). I've got tickets to the Young Chorister of the year in St Paul's on Friday.

In addition to premiere tickets to a recording of A Christmas Carol and some other free stuff I've got tickets to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight at the Globe in a couple of weeks.

BTW, I don't actually live in London, but just outside.

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Cod
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I think London gets a terribly bad press. I had an absolutly great time growing up in its suburbs (within the GLC boundary but without a London postcode). On my occasional visits, it still strikes me as a good place to live. One is less reliant on a car. There are lots of things for children to do. The schools, so I'm told, are amongst the best in the UK. And if you are into multiculturalism, it is one of the best places in the world. It deserves its worldwide reputation as a 'happening' place.

The drawback is that it is expensive, but it seems to me that it is still possible to find a decent job and get paid well for doing it. While property prices are expensive, on a median income-to-price ratio, it compares very favourably to many other big cities.

I think the increasing view that London is a sort of leech ignores the fact that a lot more goes on there than public admistration and stock market speculation. And even with regards to the financial sector: all economies need financial and legal services; London provides them, and they earn a lot of money for the UK.

Where I concede London's detractors have a point is that London does tend to dominate the UK's culture and politics. However, the UK's political system means that the solution is in the hands of the rest of the UK. If local people feel their elected representatives do not uphold the interests of their localities, they should elect people who do.

[ 28. October 2014, 01:32: Message edited by: Cod ]

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Gill H

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We go to a show at least once a month. Hugal will meet me after work and it's about 10.minutes on the bus to the Leicester Square half price ticket booth. Or we will use theatre tokens in advance - we were given £200 of theatre tokens because I helped out a friend's church with worship. With those, we've managed to see 5 shows - so average price £20 a ticket. We have a Tastecard to get 2 for 1 meals so food doesn't have to be expensive either.

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Baptist Trainfan
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I used to live in London and felt very bereaved when I move away. Even if we didn't go to museums etc. all the time, it was good to know they were there (especially in the winter).

We do go occasionally to a ballet performance or a concert (went to a Prom in July), but the costs mount up: £60 at least for the train fares, a meal out, a cup of coffee or a drink afterwards, plus the tickets - that's easily £200+ which is not a little money!

We do have some decent stuff on locally, mind: in the last month we have had an excellent concert by Matthew Ford and his Big Band, contemporary dance from the Jasmin Vardimon company, and there's often good classical music at Snape Maltings ... but one does have to anticipate and plan a bit more!

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la vie en rouge
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I love visiting London, partly for the culture (yay free museums!) and partly for the shopping. OTOH I have no desire to live their anymore. First of all, it is *huge* compared to other European capitals (obviously Paris is the one I know best). I am done with spending an hour each way on the transport any time I want to go anywhere.

I also disagree about London transport being affordable. Compared to Paris, it is outrageously expensive. A zone 2 London travel card will set you back £1256 a year, and bearing in mind the price of accommodation many people are forking out a whopping £1472 for zone 3. In Paris, a zone 2 travel card is 64€ a month, or 768€ (about £600) a year, half of which is covered by your employer (this is a legal requirement), so you only actually pay 384€/£300. And while I concede that the Paris transport is crowded, dirty and smelly, I still find it on the whole more efficient and reliable than the tube.

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Pine Marten
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In younger days I used to go to art galleries and the theatre every week if possible. Nowadays it's not so frequent but we do try. And I'm a volunteer usher at our local theatre so I get to see things for free there [Biased] .

It can get terribly expensive though, and plays get sold out almost immediately if a star name is featured - I refused to book up for Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet over a year in advance!

Going back to the London property market I still think it lunacy that houses around the corner (we're not yet Highbury or Canonbury) are now costing over £1 million.

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Firenze

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I am currently experiencing London - under favourable conditions of wonderfully fine weather. Yes, transport is fast and efficient, but I seem to be sharing it with an awful lot of people who look as they are travelling the circles of Hell rather than the Piccadilly Line.
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
I am currently experiencing London - under favourable conditions of wonderfully fine weather. Yes, transport is fast and efficient, but I seem to be sharing it with an awful lot of people who look as they are travelling the circles of Hell rather than the Piccadilly Line.

It only seems fast because you actually think that a tube train from Picadilly Circus to, I don't, know, London Bridge actually goes from one to the other.

It doesn't.

The tube network is only 200m across, under the Thames. When you go down the hole in the ground at Picadilly Circus, you walk for miles and miles through underground tunnels to the platform, under the river. Then you get on a series of trains which go about 50m. Then you get out and walk miles and miles through underground tunnels until you emerge at your destination station, miles from where you started. But you walked most of it. The points where you got on and off the trains were only a few metres apart.

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Curiosity killed ...

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That would work so much better if you'd used Great Portland Street and Regents Park tube stations, which are a long tube journey apart but can be seen one from the other, or Bank and Monument where the underground tunnels do join two stations, or whatever happens at Waterloo to connect it to the Jubilee line (there's a travelator that's really cool). Piccadilly and London Bridge stations not so much.

And there are a couple of foot tunnels under the Thames - Woolwich and Greenwich - which are really long and spooky. Fun to take kids through.

I tend to get out at nearest stop on the line in and start walking rather than changing on the tube, like most Londoners. It's the tourists that use the tube rather than feet and buses in the centre, other than the boring commute in.

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quetzalcoatl
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I quite often to go Finsbury Park from Vauxhall. Wow, I just have time to get out my copy of Boys' Own Annual, and read the front page, when I'm there!

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Brenda Clough
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You do =not= know how lucky you are. I live in Washington DC, where the subway systems are roughly 1/10 as elaborate and developed as they are in London. It is utterly pathetic.

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pete173
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Couldn't easily live, work, play and worship anywhere else. It's in the blood.

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Pete

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by Pine Marten:
In younger days I used to go to art galleries and the theatre every week if possible. Nowadays it's not so frequent but we do try. And I'm a volunteer usher at our local theatre so I get to see things for free there [Biased] .

It can get terribly expensive though, and plays get sold out almost immediately if a star name is featured - I refused to book up for Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet over a year in advance!

Going back to the London property market I still think it lunacy that houses around the corner (we're not yet Highbury or Canonbury) are now costing over £1 million.

£5 groundling tickets for the Globe are a brilliant way to see a star name on the cheap - as long as you're fit enough for standing for the whole performance.

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Pine Marten
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Ah, there you have it - my knees and feet just can't stand up for any length of time these days, although I did queue to see Laurence Olivier play Othello in 196* .... 2/- (or maybe 2/6, can't quite recall) standing.

At the Globe Mr Marten and I always sit, as he can't stand for long periods either. But being old codgers we do enjoy having Freedom passes [Big Grin]

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Curiosity killed ...

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I stand at the Globe, only went a few times this summer (pneumonia) but went lots last summer.

There are a lot of other theatre deals if you can queue at the right times. (Or there are the Time Out deals - which is how I saw Annie Gets Her Gun and Spamalot)

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Heavenly Anarchist
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I used to queue to sit on the floor of the gallery at the proms, in those days it was only about £6. We used to take a picnic.

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Curiosity killed ...

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Proms are still only £6.

I'll post some other cheap deals after I've been paid on Friday and have booked the things I want to see.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
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I daresay all you say of the Tube is true, but my mind was running more on Blake -

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

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quetzalcoatl
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I always think that by 'mind-forg'd manacles' Blake was partly referring to the church, and its repressive role.

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Signaller
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
Proms are still only £6.


£5, actually. Best value anywhere. And great for we middle-aged who want to prove we can still stand up for a whole chunk of Wagner.

And then go home and fall over.

[ 29. October 2014, 09:30: Message edited by: Signaller ]

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rolyn
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My parents fled London in search of the Good,(farm),Life in late 40s. They left friends and relatives there, consequently our family used to visit London regularly throughout the 60's and 70's. I also currently live with someone who was a Londoner born and breed and left in 75. So all in all I do have a feel for the place.

Does the OP didn't leave scope for those who feel nostalgic about London itself?
Let's say it does in which case I'd put my tick in the box of saying it's become a Global plaything of the super-rich and will continue to change beyond all recognition until such time as the Thames rises and submerges the place. This may also be the time when uKIP will build a new capital on Bodmin moor, or reinstate Tintagel castle, or something like that. [Razz]

I'm sure if I were to now spend an Autumn week in London, with limitless holiday fund, it would be most enjoyable.

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SvitlanaV2
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I've lived in London. It's fine if you're young, gifted and broke, or older, wiser and handsomely paid (and/or ideally with a foot on the property ladder). But if you're neither, it's just a fascinating city for visiting.

More importantly, I do worry that London has sucked the energy out of the rest of the country. This was less apparent in the past, when the regions had strong industries that acted as a counterbalance to the self-importance of London. But now that those industries have seriously declined, the govt. only seems interested in promoting London as the source of the country's economic vigour.

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quetzalcoatl
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Yes, I think that's one reason that the Scottish independence vote was a shock to Westminster. Here was this distant region of the UK, which was saying, hey, you may think you can neglect us, but we would like to neglect you, or something like that.

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
I daresay all you say of the Tube is true, but my mind was running more on Blake -

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

As always, Blake is perceptive and prophetic. But he was a Londoner who was unhappy out of the city. There are two sides of the coin.
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Gwai
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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
I daresay all you say of the Tube is true, but my mind was running more on Blake

Blake had a point, as always, but my first thought upon reading that was Wordsworth:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty


[ 29. October 2014, 15:33: Message edited by: Gwai ]

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If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
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quetzalcoatl
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Boo hoo, boo hoo. I knew nobody reads my posts - I quoted that on the first page.

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Angloid
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And Wordsworth of course was a country man who rarely ventured to London. Probably a bit of the 'grass is greener on the other side' syndrome in both cases.
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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
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Both Blake and Wordsworth were viewing a pre-industrial metropolis, one without railways, buses, the Thames embankment or much in the way of civil infrastructure. The London of 1800 was big - one million - for 1800, but nothing like today's city.

It chanced that as I was coming back on the train yesterday, I got into conversation with a senior manager of the London Tube. His views on the expansion of mass transit were, as you may suppose, interesting. A certain aspect of them could be summed upas 'The engines cannae take it, Cap'n!'

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Gwai
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# 11076

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Boo hoo, boo hoo. I knew nobody reads my posts - I quoted that on the first page.

Sorry! Thought someone had, but then I couldn't find it. My bad!

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A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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MrsBeaky
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I miss London.
I was at university there and walked a lot to save money on transport so glimpsed all sorts of hidden jewels as I came and went.
Then after I married we spent five years living in South London whilst my husband commuted to the city. Two of our children were born there.
My mother and my brothers all now live there and three of my four daughters have lived there, youngest still does.
The eldest daughter was mugged seven times in ten years- enough to put one off but oh how she misses London town now she is living in rural New Zealand, wonderful though that is in its own way.
For me it is enough to visit when I can- I still get excited as the train pulls into the station.
It's something about the sense of possibilty.

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Ariel
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# 58

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T S Eliot sums it up for me:

"Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet."

I turned down a job in the City some years ago which would have paid considerably more than I'm currently on. I make it a principle to arrive well in time for an interview and to get an idea of the locale before going in - if you're going to be working somewhere you want to know what's in the vicinity and what will be available to you at lunchtimes. The answer was, hardly any shops, tall grey buildings and a gritty wind. All the seasons would look the same.

And that realization, somehow, clinched it for me. No green spaces, no birds to be seen or heard, no creatures other than fellow commuters; a feeling of being completely divorced from the natural world, and 20 minutes walk before you could find one single tiny green square which was crowded with office workers on their lunchbreak, before returning to artificial light and no view from the window except other office buildings. This was not my world, and I didn't want it to be.

I thought of that the next day as I went on my way to my usual job, past fields, streams, trees, farms; the sight of sheep and cows grazing, the birds being their usual vocal little selves; life. I still believe I made the right decision.

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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True. It's not that there aren't pleasant bits in London, even central London, but I often meet a friend for lunch who works in the vicinity of St Paul's, in a Lubyanka of a place.
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Angloid
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# 159

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Ariel: whatever rocks your boat I suppose. But what you and Eliot describe is not London. I imagine if 'the City' was removed to an idyllic valley in the Cotswolds it would still have the same grey mindset and still oppress people.

London is a microcosm of the world, which is why I love it. And why it is exhausting.

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Ariel
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# 58

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The City is the oldest and the original part of London, though. It may have been extensively rebuilt over the centuries but it still has a lot of layers and resonances of the past that the other parts don't have.
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Anglican't
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# 15292

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
I turned down a job in the City some years ago which would have paid considerably more than I'm currently on...The answer was, hardly any shops, tall grey buildings and a gritty wind. All the seasons would look the same.

While some of the City is absolutely awful (I thinking largely of anything build in the 1960s - 70s) there are also some stunningly beautiful buildings there. Wren's churches spring to mind as an obvious example.

quote:
No green spaces, no birds to be seen or heard, no creatures other than fellow commuters; a feeling of being completely divorced from the natural world, and 20 minutes walk before you could find one single tiny green square which was crowded with office workers on their lunchbreak, before returning to artificial light and no view from the window except other office buildings.
To be fair, you could probably get a similar experience in Milton Keynes, or Doncaster, or Leicester or any many other provincial cities.
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Angloid
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# 159

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My point was though that the grey 'unreal' City as described by Eliot is not so much the architecture or the environment, as what Blake called the 'mind-forged manacles'; the oppression of 'the City' as shorthand for its financial oppression of the people. All of which of course is expressed in the architecture.

But for a really warm and human (and warts and all) appreciation of London as a whole, you could do much worse than read the late Ian Nairn's 'Nairn's London', recently reissued by Penguin.

[ 01. November 2014, 21:41: Message edited by: Angloid ]

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Philip Charles

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# 618

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Being an expert on London, I spent a week there 50 years ago, I support the suggestion that the UK capital be moved to Huddersfield. Moving the commercial centre to Bristol could also be considered.

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Anglican't
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# 15292

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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
But for a really warm and human (and warts and all) appreciation of London as a whole, you could do much worse than read the late Ian Nairn's 'Nairn's London', recently reissued by Penguin.

Thanks for the tip. I've only seen a clip of Nairn on the internet, talking about Northampton, I think, but he was fascinating. I'll look this up.
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Ariel
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# 58

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You could also do worse than get hold of a copy of Peter Ackroyd's fascinating "Biography of London" for an alternative view on the city's history.
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Heavenly Anarchist
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# 13313

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Nairn's Britain is regularly on iPlayer and is wonderful, especially for his melancholy persona. I must read his London book.

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Pine Marten
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# 11068

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Has anyone quoted William Dunbar yet?

LONDON, thou art of townes A per se.
Soveraign of cities, seemliest in sight,
Of high renoun, riches and royaltie;
Of lordis, barons, and many a goodly knyght;
Of most delectable lusty ladies bright;
Of famous prelatis, in habitis clericall;
Of merchauntis full of substaunce and of myght:
London, thou art the flour of Cities all....

...and so on [Smile]

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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By Stanza 7 he's clearly having a prophetic vision of Boris Johnson.
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Pine Marten
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# 11068

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[Big Grin]

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Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. - Oscar Wilde

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justlooking
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# 12079

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
...... I'm craving a sight of some Rastas, Orthodox Jews, Muslim women in headscarves, and so on.

Come to Leeds.

Leeds has lots of London-type things with the added bonus of proper countryside around. I'm talking Ilkley Moor, Otley Chevin, Hardcastle Craggs. What's around London? - a forty minute drive to a bit of Forestry Commission land?

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seekingsister
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# 17707

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
No green spaces, no birds to be seen or heard, no creatures other than fellow commuters; a feeling of being completely divorced from the natural world, and 20 minutes walk before you could find one single tiny green square which was crowded with office workers on their lunchbreak, before returning to artificial light and no view from the window except other office buildings. This was not my world, and I didn't want it to be.

Very few office workers are in the midst of a natural wood when they exit the building in any part of the UK, I would imagine.

There are lots of very large green spaces in London - Regent's Park, Hyde Park, Green Park, Greenwich Park, Victoria Park, Richmond Park, St James' Park, Clapham Common, Blackheath...

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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I think the problem is this:

Not countryside; nice enough, but no substitute for the real thing:

http://patricetodisco.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/img_6931.jpg?w=717&h=477

Real Countryside:

http://www.wharfedale-nats.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/228_15.jpg

If you're thinking of the latter when you talk about open spaces, the former just doesn't work. It's a bit like real coffee and instant. Or hand-pulled real ale and fizzy lager. Or blow up dolls and... you get the point.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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seekingsister
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# 17707

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I'm clear on the difference between a city park and the countryside but "no green spaces, no creatures other than commuters" is categorically false. Or else I'm imagining that I live next to a park that's home to herons and geese.
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