I was brought up in Camden Town and live in Lambeth. Personally I feel this whole narrative around whether a city is great or not to entirely miss the point. In the recent mayoral election we were told again and again how London is the greatest city in the world. How does that help the person in an overcrowded council flat with no prospect of being moved to somewhere larger? Does anyone who is going to have their home demolished to make way for the next flashy ‘regeneration’ scheme think their city is fucking terrific?
I have lived in many cities. They all had great things about them, and they had some awful things about them. Cities are complex places. Far too complex to be branded with a single adjective.
I recognise the arrogance of many of my fellow citizens you identify and for me one of the most depressing things about London. It blinds us to the real issues facing our city. London is so great that anything that is bad here must be so much worse anywhere else.
At current prices I will never own a home in central London and I can’t qualify for social housing. I feel that unless things change I will eventually be forced out of my city. I have had people say to me, if you don’t like it you can always move somewhere else. There are some people who almost think that those who move out have failed, apparently blind to the idea that all of us do not measure job satisfaction and quality of life in pounds and pence.
It is an attitude I might have some sympathy with if I was moaning about the fact that I couldn't afford a mansion in Kensington, but I am talking living in London, a city of more than 8 million people, a place larger than many countries of the world.
Where is the outrage that our own capital city can not house itself? Where is the outrage that large amounts of land that could be used to house Londoners are being cannibalised by developers and sold off to the offshore pound via ‘exclusive’ luxury developments? Where is the outrage that spivs and speculators are making huge profits out of the misery of millions?
And can a city really call itself great, fantastic or the greatest until it sorts these basic and fundamental issues.