London is a mess. A big, hot, fiery mess. Nonetheless, it’s a mess that 8.5 million people pay extortionate rent to live in, and a mess that nearly 18 million people – over 4 times the population of New Zealand – visited last year. It can sometimes be hard to remember why when the Metropolitan line stops moving because of the rain, you’re crossing from the Jubilee to the Piccadilly line at Green Park during a heatwave, or just trying to use Oxford Circus station during rush hour, at Christmas or generally at any point ever. However despite many initial protestations, the London Underground actually holds a soft spot in the hearts of many of the people that call the city home. This ceaseless hidden network keeps the city moving, when it works. There are certain rules that just must be obeyed however, or be prepared to face the intensely silent wrath of your fellow passengers (we are British after all, it’s not seemly to whinge out loud. Why bother when anger management comes in 140 character sized packages online?). For God’s sake, stand on the bloody right of the escalators. Some people just like to stand and coast down to the centre of the earth which is fine, but don’t whatever you do get in the way. Commuters get antsy when you shave off time they’ve allowed for a last minute bagel.
Rush hour(s) aside, what really tickles the pickle of many Londoners is the sheer magnitude of escapism available. When your day’s been long and your temper’s short the dark corners of the London Cocktail Club will dissolve your distress in the dim candle light. When nothing but a full English will sort you out at 4pm on a Wednesday, the Breakfast Club have got your back. And when nothing feels more appealing than listening to live music while standing at the feet of a dinosaur, The National History Museum is now occasionally open until the wee hours.
I sometimes feel that the city absorbs all the energy expunged from those woeful peak time tube travellers and re-bestows it like party favours in our hour of need. So that’s why I think so many people come here, and why so many people stay. You can create your own little fantasy fairytale bubble in the city where it was once necessary to make beating a carpet in a public park illegal, luxury department stores sold cocaine until 1916 and the Houses of Parliament has eight bars, courtesy of Mr Joe Taxpayer. Madness.
Tom Cruise has called his latest film, Mission Impossible 5, a love letter to London, and if that’s true (considering it was produced by Americans and for the most part was shot in Morocco and Vienna) then take this as my confession of an affair with a city of excess. On the grounds that the rent has to stop rising at some point, hopefully it is one that will continue for some time.