"Why Glasgow?" asks my London doctor when I tell her I'm moving. "It always rains. And do you know what it'll do to your life expectancy?"
I suspect the salubrious air of the West End bubble may actually improve my longevity, but as I don't have the results of a randomised study to prove it, I simply say my decreased life expectancy will allow me to negotiate a better pension annuity. Given my pension pot contains all of £36.50, this isn't exactly an incentive for moving, but I have another motive anyway - a very simple motive.
Loading article content
"I like it," I tell my doctor. "It's a wonderful city."
Yes, liking Glasgow is the main reason for my move. I haven't followed a partner or a job here. I'm single and work for myself, so I can stay wherever I choose. And I certainly wasn't desperate to leave London. It's been my home for most of my adult life, and I love it. Although I was born in Dorset and spent my teen years in north Wales, I think of myself as a Londoner. But you only live once, and I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the same city.
A significant secondary benefit of the move is that property prices are more sensible here. I've swapped a small studio flat - admittedly on a fashionable street in a central location - for a huge tenement flat on a popular North Kelvinside street. The close - not wally, but it has panelled walls and beautiful stained glass windows - looks (and smells) romantically continental. My London removers thought so too: "It's like that place in Paris."
Inside the storm doors, my new home is six times larger than my old one. In terms of volume, it's probably 10 times bigger. I sometimes find it hard to believe I am the proprietor of this palace - especially as I bought it without signing a single piece of paper. Discovering the differences between the Scottish and English legal systems really brought it home to me that I was moving to another country.
"When do you exchange contracts?" my London friends would ask when I told them I'd found a flat.
"Oh, we concluded the missives last week," I'd reply airily, thinking I'd got the system sussed. But when my solicitor told me there was no final contract to sign, I felt unnerved. Could the flat really be mine if I didn't sign anything? But it is, and here I am in a different country - one that could soon be an independent nation. As a political geek, I couldn't have moved at a better time. I'm undecided on the question of independence and looking forward to the debate leading up to the referendum.
For the time being, though, I'm focussed on settling in my new city. Already I've been subject to the usual Glaswegian irritations, and I don't just mean the midgies. It doesn't take long for the deep fried Mars Bar jokes to pall.
After 25 years in Islington, one of London's most misunderstood boroughs, I'm used to people making assumptions about my manor. It's all the fault of former resident Tony Blair and his now legendary dinner with Gordon Brown at a restaurant called Granita. There the two (then) youngish guns reputedly decided who should lead the Labour Party.
As a result, everyone assumes Islington is packed with power-hungry barristers fuelled by lobster linguine. But although Islington has more than its fair share of wealthy lawyers and financiers, almost half its residents live in social housing. And according to the 2010 English Indices of Multiple Deprivation, it's the 14th most deprived local authority area in the country.
It was the same when I stayed in Kolkata for six months in 2001. People in the UK assumed I was going to volunteer with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. They wondered how I was going to cope with the living conditions. They thought I was brave.
The reality was that I went to have a six-month writing sabbatical, and I have never lived more comfortably. Because while there is terrible poverty in Kolkata there is also a thriving middle class, and all the attendant social and cultural infrastructure: clubs, smart hotels and restaurants and vibrant arts venues.
I wonder if these crude urban stereotypes stem from a reluctance to acknowledge the reality that deprivation and affluence often go hand-in-hand: a reality many of us don't like but lack the will to change.
Back to Glasgow. Yes, life expectancy in some parts of the city is shockingly low, but moving here probably won't knock 15 years off my middle-class lifespan. Yes, it rains, but not all the time. As for the deep fried Mars Bar, that was added to the menu of fashionable London restaurant Mash in the 1990s by my Kolkata friend, chef Shaun Kenworthy. So it's a London delicacy after all.
Macaroni pies, however, you can't find in London for love or money. And I do love a macaroni pie.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.