15 Most Common Misconceptions About London
1. It's too noisy
London is loud. But, the longer you live here, the more you're able to filter out. The noise of a barking dog, a police helicopter, a two-week-long rave in an abandoned warehouse it'll all just become background noise eventually. In fact, you'll end up finding silence eerie. That weekend away in the Cotswolds will make you inexplicably tense and suspicious, like you've stumbled into an Edgar Wright movie.
2. There are too many people
True. But then, let's use an analogy. If London were a nightclub, it'd be the busiest place in town. Would you want to go to that quieter club, down the road? Let's call it 'Birmingham'. Probably not.
3.Everyone's so unfriendly
This is the most persistent myth about Londoners. And it is a myth. Let's clear it up: Londoners aren't unfriendly, they're just careful about who they talk to. There are eight million people in this city, and to try and meet them all is just exhausting. Even the most ardent Tinder swiper will run out of steam eventually. We don't hate each other, we've just not the energy for constant pleasantries don't hold it against us.
4. You can't get a decent kebab/pizza/fish and chips
Not if you only hang out around Piccadilly Circus, perhaps. But being a Londoner is all about discovering those places that do things perfectly. Advice to out-of-towners: try the mixed grill at G?_ky?_z?_ in Harringay, the pizza at Franco Manca in Brixton and the fish and chips at Kerbisher & Malt in Clapham, then see if you've changed your mind.
5. It's not green enough
How much green do you want? London has the most green space of any major European city: 35,000 acres of public parks, to be precise, meaning that 40 percent of the city's surface area is trees, shrubs and grass.
6. You spend too much time underground
There's an old, unwritten rule about London, that it always takes half an hour to get where you're going. A long time, right? But that's half an hour to get anywhere around a vast and wonderful city. Thirty minutes from the British Museum to the Olympic Park; from Tate Modern to the Houses of Parliament. For anyone used to a two-hour bus journey, just so they could play on the Sega Dreamcast belonging to their friend who lived in the next village, that's nothing. Point being, London's better than the Sega Dreamcast.
7. Things move too quickly
To which we say: No, they move too slowly! We need to go faster! Give me all you've got: food, drink, art. Shove it all in! There's so much to do and SO LITTLE TIME!'
8. You wouldn't want to raise a family there
Kid in a toy racecar. Photo: John Nielsen, Flickr
Subtext: because London's schools aren't very good. Actually, in June this year the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that disadvantaged pupils in inner London were more likely to achieve higher results than in other parts of the country. This, the Institute reasoned, might well be due to the broader mix of cultures and abilities within London schools, and the city's high quality of primary education. So there.
9.No one knows who you are
Thank god. Who wants their neighbours to know what they're up to? Or to be the subject of local gossip? We share what we want with who we want. And, if we really feel like broadcasting our inner-most thoughts, we've got Twitter.
10.It's full of bankers
There are a few, yes. The City harbours an unnervingly powerful financial services industry but you'll hear that said in London as much as anywhere else. Here we protest a cheese shop opening because lots of us resent the widening gap between rich and poor, and recognise the negative consequences of gentrification at the same time as we acknowledge the deliciousness of cheese. All of which makes this a flawed and frustrating city, but also the epicentre of any possible, future turnaround in the nation's attitude towards wealth. In the meantime, we just give anyone wearing a pinstripe suit a wide berth.
11. It's dirty
No, no. It's just well-loved.
12. There's a lot of crime
The person saying this probably won't be a statistician. They might be an 'EastEnders' viewer. Crime happens in London. It affects people who don't deserve it. It doesn't affect everyone, however. And that's the reality that Londoners quickly come to terms with. We're not sensational and we're not scared. We treat crime with the seriousness it deserves, but, generally, we just get on with our lives.
13. It's full of tourists
You mean, interesting people from other countries, who've turned up to see how awesome this country's capital city is? There are a few of them, yes. And though they bother us with their backpacks and risqu?? approach to crossing roads, we're pretty glad they're here. It's a clich?? to say it, but it bears repeating: London is a melting pot it's a flipping fondue's worth of people from different cultures, all getting hot and cheesy with each other.
14. Everyone looks ridiculous
And yet, you know that, right now, people in Carlisle are dressing like people in Shoreditch did ten years ago.