Partially inspired by the 1000 Things About Japan blog that I read from time to time and also, inspired by the sheer scale of idiocy and other grievances that I’ve come across during my twenty-five and a half years of living existence, I’ve decided to compile of list of things I won’t miss about my humble and yet infamous city of London, England. There will be a Will Miss List too, but today I feel like slandering my city. Many people the world over desire to come here and I still believe that I am truly blessed to have been born here, but it’s not physically possible for me to love every waking moment of my time here in the UK and so as I embark on my journey across the world, I give you – the unsuspecting internet surfer or Brown Jem loyalist, a peak into the downs and the lows of London town.
I’ve probably mentioned before, but according to sources, Japanese transport is one of the most punctual in the world. In the UK – particularly in London – it isn’t uncommon for trains to be late or signals to fail; neither is it uncommon for people to fling themselves in the paths of speeding trains for that quick and easy death. But while my heart goes out to those people who desired nothing more than to eradicate their existence, I still need to get to work on time. I despise getting on a packed bus during particularly bad weather, having to rub shoulders with people in thick, damp heat, while the bus creeps along the road because the congestion charge just isn’t cutting it. I hate having to pile drive myself onto a train just because people don’t want to move into that open space directly beside them. I hate rising fares for exactly the same service as last year. I like having an oyster though – it’s quite convenient – but I will not miss public transport in London.
Now, anyone who knows me will know that I despise cigarettes with a passion. I had a really rough experience with cigarettes as a child and ever since, I have purposely gone out of my way to avoid the puff…and the puff ponies themselves. According to a few people I’ve been speaking to, however, outdoor smoking isn’t common in Japan – albeit sometimes there are areas designated for this. Ever since the UK imposed its smoking ban back in 2007, people are no longer allowed to smoke inside public establishments however; they must now smoke outside. And this is great. It means that when I leave a club or a restaurant, my clothes don’t smell like ash. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to deal with people blowing their smoke in my face while I wait at the bus stop or try to evacuate a smoke stream if I happen to be walking in the path of a chimney. I literally have to get in front of them to avoid the ash; it’s like a bloody game – only the game is with my life as I’d rather prolong it for as long as possible thank you very much. The only downside is that in contrast, in Japan, they’re encouraged to smoke indoors so while I’ll be able to breathe easy on the streets, I’ll still have to deal with it inside in Japan.
Anyone who’s been to London or has lived in London will know that no matter how many road sweepers and dustbin men we employ, London’s level of cleanliness sucks. A Japanese friend of mine couldn’t believe the amount of chewing gum stuck to the streets outside a fancy establishment such as Harrods, but people generally don’t care and fling their rubbish here, there and everywhere. Even I’ve been guilty of it in the past but I try to locate a bin these days. There’s actually a fine for persistent littering, fly tipping and the like but people don’t pay it any mind and I think this is because it’s difficult to police. Someone I know who went to Japan remarked about how clean it was and that had it not looked out of the ordinary, she would have walked the street bare foot. It’ll be nice to walk down the street and not have to worry about what I’m stepping in for once.
While this year’s summer was nice, it kicked off late again and it finished just as abruptly. I couldn’t believe how quickly the temperature just dropped. One moment, we were in our shorts and tees and the next we were reaching for our raincoats and umbrellas. I heard that in Japan the seasons are bit more well-defined whereas in London, we often get mass bouts of bad weather; it snows late January instead of December and the “rainy seasons” cross into June sometimes. I will not miss the crappy, unpredictable and random habits of British weather in the slightest.
British Drinking Culture
If there’s one thing the British are famous for, it’s their outlandish drinking habits. In Europe, the bars and nightclubs open their gates for the sole purpose of welcoming the British who spend copious amounts of their vacation time inside a bottle of Vodka, or Hoffmeister, or Mojito…or just about anything they can get their hands on. Every Thursday (that’s right, Friday is still a working day mind you), Friday night, Saturday night, Football Match Sunday and Bank Holiday weekend, you can expect to find a bunch of British people drinking the night away in their local boozer. They’ll get drunk, lose themselves, get lost, get leary, get flirty, make themselves sick and then wake up without any memory of the subsequent evening before deeming it a ‘cracking night out’. I dislike being around drunk people as is because there’s no reasoning with them so I won’t miss the British drinking culture at all.
In the early 2000s, England decided to ditch the dramas and replace them with extensive coverage of reality TV. Gone went the really gritty series’ like At Home With The Braithwaites, Catherine’s Cookson’s The Girl, Bad Girls (before it got silly)…etc and on came Big Brother, Popstars, X-Factor and 10 Years Younger. Now I watch some reality television. Channel 4’s Dispatches is pretty good, The Apprentice gets you thinking, and I even enjoyed Wife Swap, but our television is full of these things now. And if it’s not reality television, it’s celebrity television from Strictly Come Dancing to I’m A Celebrity! Get Me Out of Here. I miss a good old fashion drama that has you hooked until the next episode. I don’t want to have to phone in to evict someone. I already pay TV License; why should I pay more? I have no idea what Japanese television will have in store for me but I probably won’t understand a lick of it to begin with anyway. So yes, I won’t miss reality television at all.
I believe that it’s been said by countless people that Londoners are not the most friendly of people and I’m about to confirm that this may well be a fact. A lot of expats or foreigners will say this as well but what they fail to realise is that nowadays, London isn’t just made up of British people but of all types of people from all walks of life. So what we have here in London is a giant culture clash with many people attempting to live their lives by their own cultural standards. But I’m not blaming the foreigners, because while I know that they’re not perfect either, it’s a known fact that London lost its community spirit over fifty years ago. People are rude. (Kids are worse). They will nudge you, step on you, push in front of you in a queue, take up one and a half seats when sitting on the bus, disregard rules, road rage, yell at each other, and that’s not the half of it. I’ve heard that people in Tokyo are equally as cold – although perhaps not as abrasively rude – but I know I won’t be anywhere near Tokyo when I move to Japan. All I know is, I certainly won’t miss the little brat that keeps kicking his ball at my kitchen window and nor will the London mentality either.
So this is all I could think of that stood out in particular because no place is perfect and everywhere has it’s pros and cons. I think that with most places, you have to take the good with the bad and even though the bad is infuriating, we simply have to make do.
I, fortunately, won’t have to make do for much longer, but I do know that Japan will probably come with its very own negatives as well and I look forward to updating you on what I find.