They say: “Back in my hometown you can get eight pints of snakebite and black, a big pie and still expect change from a tenner. In London it’s all just trendy gastropubs!”
You say: Sure, 10 pubs a week are closing in the capital. But did you go to those pubs? They were dire. Before about 1997 all pubs looked like a depressing John Cassavetes film. Look hard enough though, and you’ll find London still has its affordable, atmospheric drinking spots. This place out east is around £2.50 a pint. The John Snow is vibrant and cheap in a good way. Both Cittie of Yorke and Ye Olde Cheddar Cheese feel suitably olde worlde.
They say: “Everyone on the Tube just stays silent and avoids eye contact. It’s so alienating!”
You say: Yeah, we’re rude. So what? That’s the price you pay for living in a bustling, cold-hearted metropolis. A city full of winners. You want to spend the rest of your life walking into the same rural pub, being nodded at by the same seven unnaturally cheerful blokes sat at the bar, all of them secretly and severely addicted to internet pornography, then be our guest. That “friendliness” you’re always banging on about in your hometown of Hellhole-Upon-UKIP? That’s just bored people being nosy.
They say: “Why must I queue to get in everywhere now? And why can’t I go to a pie and mash shop without it being an ironic, urban ‘take’ on a pie and mash shop called MASH UP LDN?”
You say: Not all gimmicky restaurants are over-priced! Gunpowder is good value “Indian tapas”, Eggbreak provides all egg everything, The Bowler does interesting things with meatballs and Chick’n’Sours offers fried chicken with sour cocktails. Yes, they cost a bit more than “chicken parmo” in Middlesbrough, but so does dog food. Anyway, magical old-school restaurants still exist. We write about them in places like this and this.
They say: “Whither the vibrant ‘London beat’? All the venues I read about in my youth have been knocked down as part of Boris Johnson’s plan to transform the city into one, gleaming, frictionless 4G high-speed transport hub.”
You say: Oh alack and alas, dank hepatitis-infused dungeons like the Astoria and Mean Fiddler have closed down. Listen, if you want to watch flush-faced teenagers with their hair in gel spikes play “ska-tinged groove metal” then by all means move to Bristol. Meanwhile we’ll make do with Cafe Oto’s brain-punting modern jazz, in-store performances at Rough Trade and reasonably cutting-edge nights out courtesy of Oval Space.
They say: “My uncle, a semi-professional bongo tutor, bought a maisonette in Notting Hill for £300 in 1976 but I can’t even afford to live above a septic tank in Balham! London’s become the playground of investment bankers and the spoiled, bastard scions of acquisitive petrol dynasties. Please, don’t make me move to Walthamstow with all the ugly people!”
You say: Hey man, everyone rents in Berlin! In all seriousness it’s hard to argue this one. Even this earnest man with a ukulele is up in arms about it. Maybe it’s time to come to terms with not living within walking distance of Franco Manca.
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger