Things I don’t miss about London

Having previously posted about the things I do miss about living in London, I thought I would redress the balance with a few recollections of things that I really do not miss.

Rubbish

This is everywhere, especially paper. It blows about, in winds fanned by the high buildings, and narrow streets. There are a few free newspapers handed out, mainly to commuters at rush hour, as well as countless leaflets; for cheap meals, computer deals, and the sale of golfing goods. This discarded forest of unwanted paper lies everywhere in view, and when it is raining, forms clumps of undesirable paper-mache, that cling to your shoes. At the end of the evening, the many restaurants and fast-food establishments, pile the detritus of their day’s trading onto the pavement, awaiting a late collection by refuse trucks. Food scraps, bottles, cardboard, all urinated on by drunks, kicked around, disturbed by seagulls (yes, there are lots of seagulls in Central London), rats, and vagrants, all this litters the narrow pavements.

Loud music systems

Whether in cars, next to you on the train or bus, or just wandering around, the users of these personal music systems seem unable to enjoy anything, except at full volume. Regardless of annoying anyone nearby, or more likely deliberately to do so, the monotonous beats bang out, day and night, the theme tune to the mindless.

Helicopters

News channels and the Police, the Ambulance Service, and rich people, all love to use helicopters. A news report is not complete, without an aerial shot of a moving prison van, or a cordoned-off crime scene. Ambulance helicopters love to descend into the midst of a busy shopping area, closing off all the streets, and surrounding walkways. Police helicopters patrol ‘sensitive locations’, day and night, as well as chase cars, along the faster roads in the city. Having worked in the emergency services, I remain firmly convinced that helicopters are unnecessary in Central London. They are an expensive vanity, with little practical application in the metropolis. What they do succeed in doing, is to disturb you with noise, wake you up at all hours of the night, and shine lights as bright as the surface of the sun into your flat, when least wanted. I was pleased to say ‘farewell’ to them.

Light pollution

London must rate as one of the most brightly-lit cities anywhere. Street lights, lights on housing estates, security lights, office lights left on all night, floodlit buildings, and stations glowing like alien spacecraft. It has it all. When I lived in Camden, I could get out of bed at any time in the night, wander around the flat, use the bathroom, make a coffee, in fact anything I wanted to do. This is not unusual, unless you consider that I did not need to put on any lights inside my home. The intrusive ambient light was strong enough to do the job. This made it difficult to sleep, and easy to be disturbed. It was also wasteful, though that didn’t seem to concern anyone, except when it came to forcing me to buy low-energy bulbs, useless for reading.

Sirens

I used sirens in emergency vehicles for over 20 years. I know that they can be useful for getting through heavy traffic, and alerting road-users to your presence. However, in London, there is a culture of siren use that extends throughout the full 24-hour period, even when it is patently not necessary. Live near a Fire Station, or a busy road junction, and you may as well kiss goodbye to sleep, and peace and quiet. The emergency vehicles will crawl along in traffic, sirens wailing, or have them on at 3am, driving through deserted roads, just for the sake of it. I know, I was there…By contrast, in Norfolk, sirens are used sparingly, on fast roads, with difficult visibility, and people take them all the more seriously for that.

So, just the five things for now. I am sure that there will be lots more, but for now let’s just call it my ‘top five’.

43 thoughts on “Things I don’t miss about London

  1. I do not like any big city these days. I truly love small towns. I have a question-I have a friend (blogger) from Dorset, she has health problems, and so does her little grandson, sadly. We correspond via wordpress, emails and the postal service for several years. Therefore I have her address, but not even her real name! We have not heard a word since Feb (she has a small group of fans) We are all worried as she has not responded to any of us. Is it possible to get a phone nmbr with just an address in Dorset? If so, how? I would appreciate any advice. thank you Michele

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michele, it depends if your friend is ex-directory or not. If she chose to exclude her details, then only the police can access them. Send me the details you have, to petejohnson50@yahoo.com and I will try. If that fails, I can contact Dorset police by email, and ask them to investigate, if you wish me to go down that route.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that I’m back in Barcelona, yes, indeed, those are general issues with all big cities. I visit my friend in Paris every so often, and although she lives in a relatively quiet part of the city, those are issues there as well… In an ideal world I prefer a quieter setting but close enough to be able to visit at regular intervals. Thanks, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been to Barcelona a few times, and found it charming. But as a tourist, I was unaware of the wider city, issues with the suburbs, or everyday life in the winter. We have a tendency to romanticise cities, forgetting how much population they need to support.
      Thanks, Olga.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. London is for the young. When you want to experience the vibrancy and don’t care about the noise and the crowds you can enjoy the city and then when you crave fresh air and quiet it is time to move to the country, or, if that isn’t practical, the suburbs. Part of the reason why people are angry at present is that they feel crushed by numbers. I don’t know the answer but maybe it will get sorted if folk realise there is plenty more UK up north.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s right Julie. Once you start to get older, London can lose a huge amount of its appeal.
      (Unless you are incredibly wealthy of course, and can escape to a second home occasionally)
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. You’re so right about the light and the sirens! I used to live in Wheatley, which is as calm as it can get, and when I went to London to spend the weekend there I could tell the difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of the first things people notice here is the silence and at night we have to keep light on I the house to help us get about as its so dammed dark πŸ™‚
    I never really liked cities or big towns for that matter, I’m sure my list would be similar, and then some πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Laments from a London boy. I could imagine those scenes you described Pete. Here in our country, I just hate motorcycle riders who pass through our subdivision. They drive so fast as if they own the road. And yes the litter, cleaning the streets in front and at the side of our house is always an early morning ritual. I hate those cigarette butts that people throw haphazardly.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Never been to London but this sounds like a lot like Underwood, Washington, population 861, where I lived for 17 years before moving East 15 miles in the Columbia River Gorge. I live in Carson, Washington now, population 2116, so it’s worse now than ever… πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I live in a village (Beetley) with a population of less than 1,400. But it is very quiet, and doesn’t even have a shop. There is no traffic, almost no litter, no light pollution, and very little noise. Looks like I got lucky, Charlie. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  8. Hi, Pete! Unfortunately, your description of the loud music, helicopters and sirens sounds a lot like Los Angeles. Most of the time, I can tune it out. It is especially annoying when I am at a gas station and some guy (it’s almost always a guy) drives into a bay, gets out leaving his music on full blast and goes to the cashier to pay for the gas. Why do I have to listen to his music?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly the sort of thing, Mona. Also the young people on buses may be wearing headphones, but they have the volume so high, I can hear everything. I am sure they will all be deaf by the time they are 50! πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. During the last ten years I lived there, the amount of paper (and chewing gum) littering the pavements between Camden and Covent Garden was reaching epidemic proportions, Robbie. Maybe they have cleaned it up a bit, since I left the city in 2012?
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You have just written five reasons why I would not want to live in London, or most cities come to that. The one thing I have noticed here is the lack of sirens. Very rarely do we hear one, but when we lived in Surrey there seemed to be a constant flow of siren driven vehicles passing our flat. Usually fire engines. We do get helicopters here, often the Search and Rescue but also Power companies. We were watching one today over in Hayle, just circling overhead round and round for about half an hour. What for? Was very irritating as we were trying to absorb the peace and quiet of the garden. And sometimes the super fast planes from RNAS Culdrose. Maybe that’s where the helicopter was from.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are close to two busy military air bases, Lakenheath (30 miles) and Marham (12 miles). So we do get a lot of low-level flying over Beetley. But it doesn’t last long, as they are flying so fast! πŸ™‚
      They should only be using sirens to get past traffic, so where there is less traffic, siren use should be minimal. But some emergency crews just love to leave them going!
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’d think that Las Vegas would be just as badβ€”or worse! But it’s actually rather clean and quiet here. And despite the bright lights of the Strip, and all the street lights around the valley, it’s still fairly dark at night in the neighborhoods.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. On a recent jaunt into the city (Vancouver) to stock up on things that cost less there than here in more rural America, we ran into a traffic backup that we were able to avoid by taking an exit on to neighborhood streets rather than the expressway which was then a parking lot by then. Once we were off the main roads, I got to thinking, β€œI used to live in a place like this.” We were in a densely packed residential area. β€œYet, I am a bit uncomfortable here now.” Reading your re-post this morning summarizes some of the reasons I was uncomfortable in that detour.
    Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on beetleypete and commented:

    A very old post, from 2012. People often ask me if I miss living in London. Well here are five things I do not miss. This post has never received a like or a comment, and has hardly been read since 2012.

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