Londoners think it would be better to grow up outside the capital. Not so, says Kaye Holland
Word has reached me that more than half of Londoners think it would be better to grow up outside the capital.
Yes you read right: 52 percent of those surveyed by YouGov last month said they would choose to spend their childhood years elsewhere in the UK. Meanwhile 43 per cent of people polled, revealed they believe London to be a bad place to bring up children.
Words fail me. Well not quite but seriously: as someone who grew up in suburbia and spent every single waking minute of my childhood and teenage years wishing I lived in lively London rather than the boring 'burbs, I’m at a total loss when it comes to understanding these ‘findings’.
I’m not only astounded - why wouldn’t you want to grow up in London with its bright lights, black cabs, brilliant (family friendly) restaurants, parks, carnivals, museums, theatres and art galleries - I’m mad. If you don’t want to live in London, then shoo! Skedaddle. S*d off. London - owing to its housing crisis - doesn’t need you, so get out of here!
I’m sorry if I sound harsh but, for me, the moans about how it would be better to bring up kids in say Leeds or Liverpool are hard to accept, because most Londoners are perfectly free to relocate if they really, really want to. And there are plenty of immigrants who would kill to take their place and put down roots in the capital.
The YouGov poll seems to suggest that slagging the city has become an acceptable blood sport. Yet why is it so fashionable to slight growing up in the capital but blindly champion childhood in every other city?
And it’s not even accurate! Is it really better for kids to grow up in a large house with a garage and garden which you own, rather than rent a postage sized apartment in London? The answer - it’s not a trick question - is no. Out in the sticks you need a big house because there’s not a lot going on to keep the kids entertained and amused. Whereas in London, your ankle biters have everything they could possibly want in terms of activity and accessibility so why - when you’re out and about living life - would you want anything other than a modest, manageable property?
Surely it speaks volumes when the North’s most famous sons and daughters choose to get the hell out of their childhood homes the minute they a) reach adulthood and have a say in such situations or b) hit the big time. Liverpool’s Cilla Black lives in Belgravia while the Gallagher’s are in Primrose Hill and Cheryl Cole swapped her native Newcastle for London at the first opportunity.
Besides the Metro Centre, a desperate retail wasteland complete with a 19 screen multiplex, what else is there to do with the kids during the Easter hols in Newcastle? Manchester – the official suicide capital of Great Britain– might have Selfridges, but shops alone (of which London has a bigger, better selection including the wonderful Hamleys toy store) a won’t put a smile on children’s faces during the long summer holidays.
Then there are those who lament London’s lack of green space but people, please! Open your eyes! Over 30 per cent of the capital is given over to green space meaning regardless of whether you live in Shebu or Shoreditch, a park or garden is within easy reach. It’s easy to gripe (and most of us, myself included, have at some time or other) about living in London, because it’s the lazy option. But as with so many situations, the solution is simple. Either accept that the negatives (i.e. expense) is is a small price to pay for the opportunity to raise a family in this magical, multi cultural melting pot or leave: trains and planes depart from the capital every few minutes. But do stop moaning...