An Alphabet Of My Life: L

L=London

It had to be London of course. Anyone born and raised in that city will know how it gets into your blood. It goes further than being British, or English. You are a Londoner, and that is what you portray to the rest of the country, and to the world.

There is history on every street corner, much of it dating back to the Romans and beyond. You can walk the same streets as Shakespeare did, and stroll past the house where Charles Dickens lived. You develop a London accent, one that marks you out wherever you go in the rest of the country. You have your own slang terms, even a kind of local language. Other Londoners get you. They shared the same experiences.

There is architecture dating back to the time of the Norman invasion in 1066, alongside medieval, Victorian Gothic, Edwardian, Art Noveau, Art Deco, and the very latest styles. Something to please everyone. You can look into the dark corners where Jack The Ripper committed his famous murders, and gaze at a river that started the great commercial expansion of the British Empire.

Drink in pubs steeped in history. The one where the Mayflower tied up, before leaving with the pilgrims to America. Others that featured in the writings of famous authors, and were the hangouts of artists, criminals, or penniless aristocrats.

The restaurants are so numerous, you can eat almost any dish available anywhere in the world, as well as traditional British food that has not changed in hundreds of years.

Culture is everywhere. Museums, galleries, theatres, opera houses, jazz clubs, dance halls, concert venues. You are spoilt for choice. It is also green, in the sense of open space. Huge parks, ornamental gardens, fountains, lakes, all beautifully maintained and lovingly tended.

Yes, it is noisy. Yes, it is crowded. It is a 24-hour non-stop city, with awful traffic problems. Londoners are not that popular with the rest of England either. Derided as ‘Soft Southerners’, or ‘Cockney Bastards’, that accent can sometimes get you into trouble if you venture too far North. A city of districts, boroughs, areas, all distinctly separated by the River Thames. It is not a city for everyone, but it was everything to me.

It is London.

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