I know, I know Amsterdam, the 'Dam' — the bikes, the parks, the slowness of life, everything is good here, wahwahwah. But let me not even front that I've been crying real thug tears since I left London. Even though I really love Amsterdam, London has some real gems and I have to give it its due props. Here are 5 reasons why I think London's a pretty awesome city.
1. The tube
I'm starting off with a bang here. not very many people appreciate being packed into a train like a tin of sardines, but really, once you start seeing your fellow commuters as family members at the yearly cook-out rather than the dispensers of questionable body odours, you really won't mind having the odd armpit in your face or piss stained seat covers. Apart from Canada Water at peak times, the constant delays, the array of smells or the Central Line, which by the way, ought to be called the Passage of Satan — I've now come to miss the collective annoyance of the average commuter. There's a common sigh you all share when the man on the speakers starts with "We're sorry to announce that the [enter ridiculously early time] has been delayed by ten thousand light years"."Can you PLEASE move down the train, some of us need to get to work" a desperate commuter would shout, which was then always met with under-the-breath muttering of there being no space in the carriage.
2. The buzz of the creative world
As a creative, this is a no brainer — London hosts some of the world's best active design agencies, and by extension a lot of pretty good designers. When I say 'active' design agencies, I mean that there are a lot of design/networking agency hybrids at almost every corner in London. So even if you aren't a creative, you're bound to walk into some kind of event hosted by design studios. I miss going in those places with a friend or two and chatting shit about design or getting cautiously tipsy with a creative director who you're vying to give you your next job, boobs and booze anyone?
3. Londoner's are actually super warm
Perhaps it's because I lived in London for ages so I have a bit of a soft spot for its roamers, but it's true. There's a certain charm about Londoners, from the overt politeness that probably isn't even genuine to the to the small talk about yet another late train. Also going to events was always fun because you could always strike up a conversation with random people and forge an actual relationship with them afterwards. People are a lot more friendlier in London. Staying in touch with Dutch people or forming lasting relationships with people you meet here is a lot less easy-going than I expected. As much as Londoners are described as ice-cold, once that barrier's broken you can expect to go for a pint or two with Keith or Lucy once a week until you're accepted as a regular.
4. 24hour everything
Seriously, Albert Heijn (Holland's biggest supermarket) closes at 10pm. I'm still pissed about this one because what if I want to pick something up on my way home from a late shift at work or something? To be honest, I very rarely went to the shops at 10pm, but I knew that the option was always there if I needed something. Plus even if the supermarkets weren't open, at least there were some corner stores. That's another thing, there are more bread and cheese shops than corner shops and they don't even do OV Chipboard (akin to an Oyster card) top-ups. It's a mess and I'm still mad about it 6 months on.
5. My eyebrow lady
Lastly, I have to give a shout out to my eyebrow lady. I had several over the course of the years that I lived there. But honestly, nothing beats Sydenham High Street, £5 to have my eyebrows snatched to the high heavens. She knew what I was about and she was about her business; the perfect arch but not too comical, thick but not too thick, she was slick with the tweezers, the subtle head moving to check if they were equal. I've been to so many eyebrow ladies here in the Dam and I've left each of the salons reminiscing the times in London when my eyebrows could cut glass. Now here, my eyebrows have never been the same. RIP.