Living in a small market town somewhere between the two (although rather nearer the ‘rural’ end of things), I can see both sides of the argument. Yes, it would be lovely to live in a place filled with myriad new restaurants and cutting edge museums, but quite honestly, I like the fact that I can walk from one side of the place to the other in ten minutes and that everything’s shut on a Sunday.
It might be because I don’t live in London that an ad campaign currently running, supposedly extolling the virtues of the capital and those who live in it, hasn’t resonated with me at all. In fact, it makes me thoroughly glad I’m out in my little backwater with the clean air and ability to see stars at night.
If you’re also not living in the Smoke, or aren’t in the city very often, you’re probably not familiar with the current ads based around the line from the old wartime song Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner.
Maybe it’s because you’re a Londoner, the tube posters scream, that you’re like this, picking something about the city or the population about which its inhabitants are meant to be proud; things that should evoke a warm glow about them and the place in which they’re living.
But, bizarrely, the advertisers in their infinite wisdom seem not to have picked the best things about the place: the cultural opportunities; the architectural beauty; the historical richness. Not South Bank; the National Portrait Gallery; the incredible array of amazing restaurants; the acceptance that Londoners show to people from all over the world; the traditions and quirks – be they Changing the Guard or the good-natured ‘thoughts for the day’ that appear on the whiteboards at Angel tube station.
Instead, what’s been chosen are characteristics that, if we’re being generous about this, don’t wholeheartedly flatter. Because apparently, what makes people Londoners is the breathtaking egocentricity for which the rest of the country thinks they’re prats.
For clarity: there are plenty of Londoners of whom I’m thoroughly fond, none of whom can be characterised by the below, and I wouldn’t dream of tarring them as such. But dear me – who on EARTH thought these were a good idea…?
Maybe you carry a designer handbag with a price tag that could not only feed a family of five for six months but fit one in too cries one ad.
Maybe your idea of dressing down for the pub is loosening your tie and undoing your top button cries another.
Maybe you own hiking boots and a four-wheel drive vehicle, neither of which has ever seen so much as a muddy puddle.
I’m sure I’m meant to be impressed by the fashion-forward, suited and booted, cosmopolitan crowd that the ads are depicting. But frankly, I see the posters and they make me think of nothing other than superficial, uptight, greenery-shy idiots who have no idea that if you don’t know one end of a horsebox from the other, then you’ve no place in the driving seat of a Land Rover.
But maybe it’s because they’re Londoners and I’m not. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because they’re prats.