“When a man is tired of London, he goes and lives in California,” quoth the grand old mephitic philsopher Sir Jack “Boswell” Jimbobberty of Hull, quite wrongly in my opinion. No, it’s not tiredness which drives anyone from London, or boredom, dullness, doldrums, weariness, apathy, or any lacking of interest. There’s usually just the one thing that does it, and that’s as predictable a thing as you might expect: the weather.
I’m perfectly happy with London aside from that one issue of the inevitable unpredictable clouds. If you could transport Californian sunshine to London, I’d leave the surfboards, the canyons and the orthodontically perfect smiles behind in a jiffy, lovely though they are, and return to the teeming complexity of this wonderful capital city more often that the few months a year my aching body can stand.
London is genuinely one of the world’s great cities; all complexions, nationalities, languages, attitudes, shades of skin, types of intelligence and senses of humour (spelled with a “u”) are to be found (also spelled with a “u”) in this two thousand-year-old metropolis. Just as you’re sure you’ve understood it, it reveals another aspect of itself, it reinvents itself. At the moment you’re sure it’s dating rather well, it capriciously modernises (spelled with an “s”). As soon as it seems parochially subservient, it usurps its place in the order of things and gets uppity with you. It refuses to lie down, and yet it is a city, unlike most American cities, which does get regular, healthy, refreshing sleep.
Wandering through the centre (spelled “re”) of London on a Sunday morning in the summer sunshine, one can almost imagine that down the piss-stained alleys lie secret orange groves and vineyards, that in the vast and manicured parks, the great London planes might harbour (spelled with a “u”) rainforest fauna, that walking on the south bank of the Thames (pronounced “Temz”) one might stumble upon a secret beach, a bunch of hippies having an arty party which everyone can join in…
If only the weather was like California.