Living in Northern Ireland these days with a wife and three kids, I don’t get down to London as much as I used to in my single days. Hardly surprising, but it’s a city I’ve been to quite a bit over the years.
I’m a fan of a lot about London. I find the city quite friendly – certainly not as friendly as the likes of Belfast, but definitely more so than many other British cities. I also think that London cabbies are utter geniuses. Whether it’s the local ones with Cockney accents or those who have come in from other countries, there are few people who know the city better.
That said, there’s one thing about London that drives me up the wall. I can understand why this happens – they live in a place where everything you could ever need in life is already around – but it’s no less annoying for those of us who don’t come from the city.
It’s the expectation that there will always be a bus or a train to take you to wherever you need to go. For example, on my second time in London, I was at the Elephant and Castle station on the Tube. I was heading back to my hotel, which was in the Victoria area, if I remember correctly.
I got to the platform and the train I needed was due in 7 minutes, according to the notice board. I thought that was really good! I then saw a bloke talking into his phone, and he said “7 fucking minutes? What a fucking disgrace!” to whoever was on the other end of it.
Seriously? Where I live, there is one bus that goes into town. It’s at 7.30am. The stop itself is five miles away. And there’s no return bus, so God only knows how the hell anyone using it is meant to get back home!
Which is why when I read things like this, it gets on my nerves. London’s Night Tube service isn’t due to get going until at least next year. As frustrating as this may be for some, at least they have other options there.
I still remember one night many years ago when I tried to phone for a taxi. I’d just done a shift at a Haven site in North Wales, and this was before I could drive. I got a bus into town and found the last bus home had left nearly an hour earlier. It was around 10.30pm on a Thursday night.
I phoned for a taxi. No answer. I phoned another firm. No answer. I phoned every taxi firm I could think of. Nothing. They’d all finished up for the night – and it wasn’t even midnight yet!
Londoners haven’t got it that bad…