I asked Gary C today how the transport was in London, now that the congestion charge had kicked in. “Great,” he replied, “no problems.” I was surprised. Until he finished off, “Apart from the normal ones, that is.”
And that’s the problem. I’ve written before about why I really wouldn’t want to work in London. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing place – the buildings, the history, the events, it all contributes to one of the great tourist cities in the world.
But tourists don’t stay. It’s great to visit and see the sites, but working there at the moment is entirely different. It’s a daily battle of wits, loosely based around a hilariously ironic “integrated transport scheme”. You try the tube – three lines have been closed for a month and a half and the trains and tracks are so old they’re falling to bits. You try the trains – the fares have rocketed, most of them arrive late, and they’re packed. You try the car – the roads were full, and now you have the congestion charge – a charge which forces people down the broken tubes and onto the extortionate trains. You try the ever growing terrorist threats.
And a lot of people just accept it. I hope it’ll get better, but at the moment a lot of people I know hate working there, and are trying to get jobs away from the capital.
I, meanwhile, work in Guildford. There are no transport chaos, no closed lines, no rising crime rate, relatively affordable accomodation (well, compared to London), and it’s a town that’s big enough to be known, and small enough to be a community.