Asked by vivaladolcevita
Martin Pengelly, at your service:
1) Contrary to common American expectations, it doesn’t always rain, the locals don’t all have bad teeth and speak rhyming slang and the food isn’t shit. More on this next week, possibly.
2) However, the tube really is shit – it’s purgatory on wheels. Small wheels, supporting small trains that run in small tunnels that were drilled in the 19th century. And the city’s small-minded politicians think a pathetic little public-private partnership that hides private-sector profiteering in the small print – while being perfectly open about BIG ticket hikes every year – is the way to fix it. Do not use the tube– the buses are perfectly good.</p>
3) Be prepared to live south of the river. The tube doesn’t go there much, granted, but see above and anyway, people who live in north London are generally the kind of polenta-munching smug gits, fixated on house prices and school catchment areas, that no one in their right mind would want to mix with. The south is mixed, vibrant and vast and not all of it is like Streatham, honest.
4) Should you ever, despite having chosen to live south of the river, need cheering up, go to the London Review of Books shop and café on Bury Place, near the British Museum. It is heaven.
5) At the LRB, buy this book, then follow its walks over buried rivers and forgotten alleyways in all parts of London. Much better than the obvious tourist nonsense. And if you want to see the City – the pre-Roman, oldest part of London – go exploring at weekends. When the bankers and lawyers go home, the place just empties. It’s timeless (or time heavy, come to that) and marvellous.