So, then. London. As I mentioned last time, this new job takes me down to London every so often, and last week was one of those times. I was there from Wednesday to Sunday, and it just reminded me of the parts I hate, and the parts I think I need.
Getting from Euston to Victoria should be a relatively painless process. Sadly, this week was rather warm in London, which means descending to the Underground gives many people a religious epiphany, and they swear to lead better lives. Add in the fact that on certain lines (Victoria being one of them) I simply cannot stand up on a tube train, and you can see why I didn't enjoy being jam packed into said train along with my luggage.
Nevertheless, to the credit of the Underground, I got to where I needed to be quickly and efficiently. Very efficiently, considering the number of people they managed to transport in that one train.
Anyhow, I managed to get to the office. Which led me to overhear a conversation which was a perfect example of the next issue I have with London:
"I can't imagine having to work in Manchester, you know. I mean, the great thing about working here is that you're really where it's important, you know? It's being close to the action. And working in marketing here, in the public sector? It's great! You always know it's really important, and the media are actually wanting you to tell them things, instead of you trying to sell it. It's great being involved in such an important job.
"And another thing, in London you can, you know, be normal without being boring. I mean, if you do exciting and different things in London, it's not seen as that unusual, but if you tried to be exciting in the regions, well, you'd be looked on as weird. You'd be unusual. I don't think I could stand that."
The final issue, I suppose, is the people. The sheer damn number of the sheep-like entities. Sitting in a pub jam packed with people - and this on a dull Thursday evening. Trying to make my way across Victoria station was a nightmare. When I started off with my normal vaguely genial expression on my face, people kept ambling into my path, or banging into my as they went past me in the other direction. Being the height I am, this isn't something I am used to... As my expression started to turn towards irritation and annoyance, people started to get out of my way. Some of them even started to apologise when they clipped me on the way past.
On top of that, this mass of people means that all the public transport is rammed solid. My sense of personal space appears to extend an awful lot further than that of most Londoners, meaning I am on edge most of the time. Bah, humbug. Just ignore the complaining provincial.
But, on the other hand... I was able to see some friends easily. Being able to go out to see a film, and get a damn good meal, at a late hour was unusual and pleasant for someone from the sticks. Transport was, on the whole, quick, and reliable (though the closing of the Circle line that weekend was a bit of a bugger), or at least there were numerous alternatives.
But I suppose the thing I needed was the conference I attended on Saturday.
The conference was for Compass. Compass, for those who do not know, styles itself as a "critical friend" of the Labour Party. They have been embarked over the last year or so on producing a vision and policy ideas for a more left-wing path.
Some of the conference was exciting, some inspiring, but all, somehow, depressing. I've been to a few of these things before, and I always seem to end up in badly ventilated halls, listening to the same speakers tell the same people that things will get better, honest. That people agree with us really, we just need to tell them. Feh.
Of course, Compass has been having some success recently. I could tell that in two ways: firstly, there were more people there, and more exhibitors. Secondly, the percentage of attractive young women was much greater than the last Compass conference I was at. I am firmly of the belief that you can tell how well any particular political party, organisation or event is doing on the basis of the attractive young women percentage. I can only assume that attractive young women are, in fact, the only true political experts out there.
I've noticed myself wanting to get more involved in politics since I started the contract. (I'm assuming that it's because I believe I've sold out...) I've been reading more widely, and trying not to get too worried about that fact it all makes me so angry. And the one thing London does offer is the chance to get closer to this sort of thing.
So, on the whole, I guess what really annoys me about London is that it sucks you in, and it reshapes you. From the behaviour as you walk along a street, to the view you have of the rest of the country, to the importance of the meetings and people there, you find yourself believing the view of itself that London presents. You start to believe this is the only natural way to behave in such a place, that this behaviour, these beliefs, are perfectly natural. I dislike London because, on the whole, it turns me into someone I dislike. Or, perhaps, it simply holds a mirror up to me, and I don't like what it exaggerates, and what it fails to hide.
Tsk. This is rambling. But frankly, I need to sleep, so I'm going to post it.
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