London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

13/06/2002, By Pat Theodorou

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 22692 votes


I was born in London and know that both of my parents were too, but I had grown up mostly in the country and had never rated London highly. I used to pop in to do a bit of shopping at Christmas, and go to the Chelsea Flower Show or the odd exhibition at the Royal Academy, but was always glad to get the train home at the end of the day.

Twice I went after and was offered a well-paid job in London but chickened out at the last minute. In 1976 I met my future husband in London purely by chance and we then lived in North London for eighteen months before I freaked out and needed to move away, I found it dirty, unsavoury and expensive.

So when I started researching my fatherís family tree recently I was a little daunted by having to start my research in London at various archive offices.

I was amazed to discover our family had been in central London from at least 1736 (I hope to do more work on this and go back even further).

My husband and I now live in the West Country for work purposes and to go to London means a hotel stay, which felt decidedly odd as before we could reach the capital in 40 minutes easily from door to door.

So at Christmas last year for the first time in 56 years I stayed in a London Hotel and became a tourist. What a revelation!

I discovered a London I loved! I even complimented a street sweeper on how clean it was. Either I have changed considerably or London has... I could even live there now.

And as for Westminster and Southwark, my main areas of research, I was bowled over. We had a drink in a pub in Westminster, something I would never have thought of doing years ago.

The South Bank is a revelation and recently I found myself wandering around the City on a Saturday en route for the Guildhall Library and felt history all around me.

That is what is so surprising.

There are many places in England that now have lost the atmosphere I knew in my 20s and 30s, thanks to chains of burger bars, etc, and possibly just too many visitors, but not only does London possess that atmosphere, it seems more confident of its role and I just love it to pieces!

PTheodorou@lion29.fsnet.co.uk

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Jen 01/07/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 21553 votes)

This person obviously does not appreciate things around them. How privileged they are to live in an area that is so rich with history and culture. Shame on them for just now opening their eyes.

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Pat Theodorou 01/07/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 21397 votes)

Jen, were you talking about London or the West Country, you didn’t make that clear or perhaps you didn’t read it very clearly???? I lived in London for approx 18 months. I worked in Camden Town and in those days the streets were full of litter and I had to step over sick every day on the way to work. We didn’t go out very much from where we lived in North London as we couldn’t afford it and a real treat for us was going to Waterlow Park and feeding the squirrels and hopefully listening to the band or up to Ally Pally and hoping it wouldn’t be too crowded to bat a ball around. My boyfriend, now my husband, was an out of work actor and walking around the local streets which were not particularly interesting architecturally was our daily exercise but it a chance to get out of our tiny rented flat. I am a professional artist so am very alert to beauty even if it is a skyline with majestic cooling towers such as Didcot Power station which I have painted before now. My mother was a professional artist and I was aware of beauty in everyday things from an early age. But even I draw the line (no pun intended!!) at some of the sights I saw then!

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Will 02/07/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 21359 votes)

I'm glad that Pat found the London that I found a while ago. I have only been a visitor to London. I've been coming since the 1980s and it has always been a good place to be. Yes, the tourist areas are cleaner than other sections of town, and I've walked over a lot of it. I have been to the parts of town where there are weeds growing thru the curb and in the Theatre District. But for me it has always been a wonderful mix of history and today.

London compares quite nicely with San Francisco, where I have lived and worked. And just like London, SF has it's clean swept areas and places where it doesn't feel safe to walk in the day light. And I had to visit it as a tourist to fully appreciate it. My excuse was that friends wanted to visit and see the sights and I'd never seen them. It is strange and wonderful to see your home as the tourists do. And that includes when I was fresh out of school without much money.

I didn't always see the silver lining way back then, either. But, I don't blame those cities for feeling bad. With all the trash at my front door, I always seemed to feel a bit better cleaning it up than complaining about it. Even when I knew it would all be back in a moment.

I like London, even the not so clean parts.

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Pat Theodorou 02/07/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 21258 votes)

Whoops, just seen that the previous one has gone up!

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Pat Theodorou 02/07/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 21494 votes)

I really don't mind if someone agrees or disagrees with any views I may personally hold but this response did seem like a knee jerk reaction to something I'd said, though heaven knows what! And by the way, as I didn’t have a bucket and broom with me on my way to work it was a bit difficult to tidy up litter (joke) but I certainly wouldn’t have attempted it outside our communal front door as we witnessed two muggings in the 18 months I was there, in broad daylight; one with an iron bar. I would have loved to go to the bright lights and to special places but we just couldn’t afford it in those days. It IS a great pity that it's taken so long for me to be able to do so.

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Victoria 17/07/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 21270 votes)

I totally agree with Pat. I live about 30 mins away from London by train and when I first started working in London I didn't recognise its good points. However, one weekend not having much in particular to do I went up to London and really enjoyed myself just wandering around as a quasi tourist.

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Valerie Atkinson Brown 02/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 21322 votes)

When I visited London for the first time, I fell in love with it. I've been back twice since then.
Consider yourself lucky to be near the capital of the world. It is a magical place!

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Re: Either London Has Changed Or I Have!

By Janice 01/06/2003, (Rating: 2.9 from 20889 votes)

Thanks Pat for your viewpoint. I have visited London many times and have seen many changes. First time was in 1957 for a few hours between flights, could not understand the spoken English and feared for my safety in not getting lost (I was a young American)!! London has gone through many cycles of charm over the intervening years but overall the charm has not been lost although the oldtime venders no longer exist and the fastfood have made their ugly presence. I find that traveling in the US lacks any excitement BUT to travel to Britain and be able to speak the "native language" resonably well is a blessing and enjoy the historic sights is such a joy. I love England and Scotland and look forward to visiting again soon. By the way, New York City beats London for grime and crime !! I love living in the city but weekends in the country. Enjoy London, it is a wonderful city.

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