London--A Love/Hate Affair

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with London for, what, twelve years now? It’s high time I buried the hatchet, right? I don’t know. I think London has to make the first move. She should apologize for her animosity towards Americans. She should make amends for her ornery public transport system.

London brings out the worst in me. I’m talking knock-out-drag-out worst. So when my partner said to me, “We’re moving to London again in January,” I said, “Grand, but half of us is staying in Munich” where the world is still in Ordnung.

Don’t get me wrong. London is a nice place to visit. Go to the Globe and Madame Tussauds if you must. Stand in a queue in Leicester Square for half-price tickets for nose-bleed seats to West End shows. Shop till you drop (dead) in the Oxford Street. Fall asleep in the theater. Pray to Diana at the shrine in Harrods. Stumble drunk through the streets of Soho in the early morning hours. It’s all so much fun.

But London is not all that much fun when you live there. The Tube never runs on time. The bus is late, and then three come at the same time. Everywhere you look, someone is accepting the miserable state of things. And London is miserable.

But I love her. I love Indian food. I love British TV. I love my friends in England and Scotland. And Wales of course. Sorry, Wales.

OK, so much for love.

I hate the superficiality of London. You can’t go out at night dressed like a normal human and expect to be “allowed” into a club. In Germany, there is no dress code, and I like that. I am a normal human who dresses thusly: jeans and a T-shirt.

We were the first humans to arrive at the Ministry of Sound. We took our place at the front of the line and gabbed with the hostess and the bouncer for about twenty minutes. When it came time to let people in, the bouncer looked at me and said, “No jeans. You can’t come in.”

Pissed? Yes. I was more than pissed. He was twice my size, but I was ready to fight. He let me stand there for twenty minutes without telling me I was dressed inappropriately? The hostess looked like she should be walking the street looking for Johns. What does London have against denim?

On another evening, someone shoved a free pass into my hand. I asked for a second one for my friend, but she said the pass was good for two people. When we got to the club, the bouncer told us the pass was good for only one person. When I tried to explain what his employee had promised us, he said, “We don’t need you. Go away.”

We don’t need you. Go away.

I’m really tired of this. And this is what I hate about London. And Venice. And Florence. And Paris. And Barcelona. They don’t need you. At least they think they don’t need you.

Starting in January, I will be in London two or three times a month. I will work on my relationship. I promise. I will try to love her, but she will have to do the work also. At some point, London will have to start loving me.

I must be off,


  1. A surprisingly touching piece, Hub.

    Most of the problems you mentioned are still prevalent, except there's MORE people on the Tube and on buses now. MORE rudeness. And bomb threats.

    So maybe you'll assimilate into London's steaming welter of rancour with greater ease this time.

    Nah. Have fun. London is a harsh but rewarding mistress. :)

  2. And don't forget to treble all this when the Olympics come to town. London does not handle crowds well--the topic of my next London memory.


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