I've just spent the last 36 hours or so in London and I can't tell you the relief at getting back to my hillside again. I spent 9 years living in London and there is no sense left of it feeling like home. In fact, it sometimes feels positively alien. This is partly because it is hard to be rootless in a place where you used to have a home, but it is also because I don't think London wants you to feel at home. It wants you to feel overwhelmed, a little uncool and envious of all those with whom the force is strong because they live there and you don't.
I think the thing I find hardest is the superiority that so many Londoners seem to feel towards anyone who chooses not to live in the same place as them. I am somehow made to feel as though I have hay in my hair and in place of my brain. This isn't from strangers particularly, but more from London born and bred friends who just can't understand why anybody would leave London. It drives me crackers.
I know it is pointless trying to justify it - they think the whole 'living in the country / not in London' idea sounds like terrifying hard work. They panic at the thought of no coffee in a paper cup (so do I come to think of it), no access to beautiful shoes (valid point too) and probably no electricity, newspapers, internet, radio, or Waitrose. They certainly seem to think that anyone not in London is unlikely to know about what is on at the theatre, or the galleries or the news for that matter.
The irony that vexes me about this is that as a general rule London is so insular it has very little idea of what is going on in the rest of the country, whereas my experience of people who live in the country is that they have a fairly accurate sense of what is going on nationally and give the crime rates in Newcastle the same importance as a tube strike in London. If you don't believe me, look at how snow is reported. Northern Scotland had endless snow this year, with entire areas cut off but the only time the snow gets into the news is when the M25 grinds to a halt because three flakes of snow drifted down onto an unsuspecting car causing untold trauma to a the London driver. It is a terrible divide that I think I notice far more because of having chosen to leave one world for the other.
I know that this is a bit of a rant, but I feel ranty about it. I am fed up with the assumption that because I live in Wales I have given up on any mental sophistication in favour of bucolic bliss. I can survive on a hillside in Wales, and in London. Could they??? So to cheer you up a little and give you a taste of the best example of this type of stereo typing here is a little tale for you - entirely true and pretty much verbatim........
On a trip down to London I went into PC World to look at a laptop. One of the drones working there spent some time trying to persuade me to buy a PC that I didn't want and wasn't remotely what I was looking for. I resisted, strongly and was considering stapling a notice to my head saying NOT INTERESTED when he came up with a plan. In a wheedling tone, he suggested I buy the offending article and take it home where I could appreciate it's true fabulousness. If I still felt the same inexplicable hatred towards it then I could bring it back to him. Fed up by now, and desperate to escape, I pointed out that it was a little impractical as I lived in Wales so couldn't just pop back in and see him with the offending article. The look of amazement on his face was extraordinary. He did a genuine double take before asking me in a lowered, respectful tone the following question:
"You live in Wales, really? So do you live underground then?"
I assured him that yes, I was indeed a hobbit and left, without a computer, to go home to my burrow. Need I say more?
The price of health
12 hours ago