London: The Break Up

by Guest Blogger

Before we started our full-blown love affair with Berlin, we enjoyed a few fleeting holiday romances. And as we fell in love with the city, we slowly fell out of love with our home at the time, London. We’ve heard the same story time and again, though rarely as eloquently put as in this post, from a (relatively) recent refugee from the Big Smoke. Presenting “London: The Break Up”, written by Marie J Burrows, and illustrated by Joe Wray.

Berlin vs London

I used to love London, until I found Berlin…

I used to love London. Hailing from a crappy ‘city’ in the Midlands, as far as I was concerned the streets were paved with gold, not just chicken wrappers. I live there for three years, and every time I was forced to leave it’s smoggy borders my heart yearned to be back, and on arrival after rushing off the train at Euston I would inhale the familiar smell of the tube affectionately; happy to be home.

This was three and a half years ago. The last five months I have spent living in Berlin, moving there after a brief affair a couple of years ago which left me wanting more. I left London with abandon, sad but excited for the future, thinking one day we would be reunited. Now I’m back I know that I was wrong. My relationship with London has soured dramatically, its fast pace now leaving me weary.

Tired of London, tired of life?

They say if you’re tired of London you’re tired of life, and tired of London I am not. I am however tired of its inhabitants, swarming frantically over each other constantly, its public transport, clogging its veins and its mentality, angry and unforgiving.

Since living in Berlin I have learnt to chill out. To not exasperatedly huff and puff my way around the person standing on the left on the escalator, cursing them for perhaps causing me to wait an extra 30 seconds for the next train. I have learnt to walk at a normal pace, not a shin splint inducing million miles per hour, even taking in my surroundings occasionally. I have learnt that it won’t kill me to stop and help people read a map or find somewhere, now I know what it feels like to live in an alien country where I struggle with the language.

Cruel to be kind

Kindness in London is also definitely in shortage. With all that rushing around everyone’s doing it makes it just that bit harder to stop and help someone with their suitcase, to give directions or just to meet that old friend for dinner (well they do live all the way in Angel, that’s the other side of the river!).

After only three days here, working temporarily in central I found myself already slipping into ‘angry Londoner mode’, hastily side stepping tourists/the elderly/children on the pavement lest they hinder my oh so important progress. I also felt that old tiredness start to creep up on me, that overwhelming tiredness which causes you to lie on your bed for five minutes when you get home out of sheer exhaustion. The tiredness created by the feeling that this is London, I should be making the most of it, there are a million and one things that I could be doing this evening! The tiredness from traipsing from one end of London to another, to a destination that is not even that far geographically, but which seems to take half a lifetime by bus.

Pricey ‘Privileges’

All this moaning without even mentioning the cost of living in this mayhem – a travel card for zones 1&2 now setting you back a hefty £30.40 a week! I’m already yearning for the more spacious and efficient transport I left behind (which isn’t hindered by snow either, whole INCHES of it in fact). The cost of living in London is also obviously a far cry from its German capital city counterpart, the idea of 50p litre bottles of beer here simply ludicrous (not only because of the new prices being implemented to prevent binge drinking).

Needless to say, I can’t wait to get back to Berlin. I may not be able to speak German very well, I don’t earn lots of money and health insurance costs the earth but hell, the people are nice, and that’s one up on you, London.