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INSIDE TRACK: A decade spent learning to love London

Dear London,

Dear London,

It has been a decade since I first stepped on to your fume-filled streets.

In that time I have learned many things: don't stand on the left on escalators, don't bother waiting for a green man and never buy the first round of drinks in an unfamiliar bar.

Much continues to baffle me. I see little reason for an eel to be encased in jelly or a cocktail to be served in a jam jar and I still don't understand what a hipster is despite having been to East London several times.

I love the winding alleyways around the City of London, the stunning Thames views from your bridges and the oceans of people who sprawl in your parks on a sunny day.

I have been assailed by proselytisers on buses, been handed free food samples at train stations and accepted enough free newspapers to make a rather large bonfire.

Much about you is ridiculous: your skyscrapers are getting excessively tall, you will never convince me that any beefburger, no matter the background of the unfortunate cow, is worth more than £10 and why do you think I would queue for hours to enter any restaurant, "pop-up" or not?

I hate driving on your scary roads and I haven't taken one of your expensive taxis since 2006. But I love public transport that is a decent price and runs through the night.

I have drunk beer at a bar on the top of a multi-storey car park, knocked on an anonymous Soho door to enter a late night club and eaten noodles at a Vietnamese canteen in south London.

When I came to London I shared a tiny flat with friends. Ten years on, if I had a cat, twirling it around would still knock over several book shelves, the foldaway dining table and the baby.

It is true that strangers rarely make conversation on the bus. But that means I get to read my book in peace.

The occasional use of the word "Jock" in conversation still baffles and appals me .

You have many contradictions. I love the cars that fly the flags of both their home and adopted countries during football tournaments. No-one has ever queried whether I am settler or a colonist in London. But why do fascists sometimes get elected in your suburbs? While we are on the subject of politics, isn't Boris a complete embarrassment?

There is little doubt that you are self-obsessed. It doesn't help that your residents run the national media.

And something should be done about the temporary blindness that afflicts your residents if a pregnant woman gets on a crowded train or an elderly person falls in the street.

You should be ashamed of the number of people who sleep on your pavements every night.

You have changed me for good and bad. I never give money to the stranger who requests 60p but I rarely judge a new acquaintance by the way they look: unless they are wearing red trousers.

I admit that I have on occasion considered abandoning you. Fresh air, neighbours who are more likely to say "hello" than steal your wheelie bin, and a diminished threat of knife crime really do appeal.

But I am not ready to leave, not yet.

Best wishes

Tim

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