Given a certain Mr Buckley asked me why I had put a certain comment on my old facebook (Stray is thinking London is his own personal Hell) I thought I would expand a bit further on it.

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

I grew up in the country. That is probably all you need to know, and save you reading the rest of my witterings. Did you know Courtney Cox was in ‘Misfits of Science’? I didn’t. I remember watching it on OirTayEe way back when I was grewing up in said country. I didn’t know that. I mean, I might have at the time, as, you know, I could read, and might have paid attention to the credits, but it wouldn’t have made an ounce of difference, as, well, it was as irrelevant then as now. Celebs. I have said before, I don’t want to be famous, I want to be rich. And time is running out for that. Anyhow, that London, right?

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

Having worked, for at least the past seven years, in an industry that doesn’t care what time I get into work, I have released myself from the tyranny of the timeclock. (Not the tyranny of the timecube, just the timeclock.) There never has been a rush to get anywhere, and less so now. (As another aside, never turn up to a meeting that won’t start until you get there.) But that London, everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere, everyone is shouting into their mobile telephonic devices that they are on their way, everyone is pushing and shoving and cursing and jostling and charging and thrusting and huffing and puffing.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

Dirty streets, scruffy buildings and a miasma of all the oppression and exuberance of the past heavy upon your soul. It used to be we went to London to see shops and shows you couldn’t get outside the M25. Not so much any longer, when every high street looks the same. (Cambridge-Town Platonists dispute this, but they know where to look. If you don’t look properly, even they have to concede the intrusion of the carbon-copy town centre.) Oh sure, there are the designer shops, it is the centre of the financial world, the hip and happening scenesters paradise and playground, but none of that interests me. Overhearing conversations of how some skinny chick’s friend spent an unwise 5k on a dress that is by a designer she had never heard of, listening (accidentally) to others brag how much they spent in some club or other, doesn’t interest me. How people spend their money is an irrelevancy to me. I don’t care. But when it is bragging, and boy, did both those young ladies realise what they were saying, it gets to be crass. (Oh, the non-Platonists in Cambridge-Town partake of the same rah-rah-rah-we’re-going-to-smash-the-Oiks!-ness, but they are despised for differing reasons. This is about London. If you don’t extrapolate, I won’t either.) Unattractive people bouncing with a frustration borne of being trapped in this sprawling heart of the nation.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new born Infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

Too many people, too much distraction. I hate the underground. Not because of its lack of utility, for it is useful, but for the unending and relentless advertising. Not good for those Stendhal-upped amongst us. The rush of modernity intruding on my now cultivated calmness. Every two yards another poster for another inane product, a splash of colour on the grey, antiseptic walls. Sign after sign, hoarding after hoarding. Never ceasing. Pervasive. I can ignore it, for I couldn’t tell you one event or product that was being touted. But on the edge of my vision there is the mounting menace, clawing at my senses.

Is it really where you have to be to be involved? I don’t wish to involve myself, thanks. I am happy somewhere smaller, somewhere cleaner, somewhere less rushed. A small island of the coast of Finland, for example. Or a shed on a windswept Norwegian fjord. That would do. But, for the meantime, I am still in England, in the summertime, railing against the destruction of our life, liberty and property.

Cassandra loves London. I don’t.

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