Why would you want to live anywhere but London?
Last night Ischlepped to Shepherds Bush for my friend Sarah’s annual Christmas shindig. Like last year - and the year before that and the year before that - there was plenty of Panettone, mince pies and mulled wine and enthusiastic carol singing but there was one difference: this year’s social was the last one that Sarah will host at her Shebu home.
For Sarah - who is expecting her second child - and her husband have decided to swap Shepherds Bush for the suburbs. They’re leaving W12 - aka the land of Westfields - and heading to Hertfordshire. Why? Good question. She says it’s because they want a garden and a garage - two entities that aren’t an option in the capital.
And Sarah isn’t alone in her desire to leave London. Another friend, Heidi, has upped sticks from Southfields to a place called Phipps Bridge (I’d never heard of it either) ready to welcome the arrival of her first child. Meanwhile my single mate Patrick is turning his back on Brixton and relocating to Streatham - all because he wants more space.
I wish I could say I understand it, but I’d be lying. I just don’t get why you’d want to leave London with its bright lights, black cabs, brilliant (family friendly) restaurants, parks and carnivals – for a big house in the arse end of nowhere. Theo - Sarah’s husband - says that he's desperate for a garden where his kids can play football but, 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 not sure whether Theo’s kids will thank him.
Heidi doesn’t harp on about having a garden (although moving to Phipps Bridge means that she does indeed have one whereas before she had a only balcony), but about the fact that she now has a greater chance of getting her unborn children into a good school and thus giving them a better education. But I’d argue that growing up in London with its myriad of museums, theatres and art galleries (as opposed to a place where life revolves around private schools, pony lessons and eating out once a week at Pizza Express) is the best education of them all...
You might be reading this and thinking that there will come a time when I too will be ready to leave the most challenging, competitive and overwhelming city in the world. You could well be right but I suspect it will be foreign pastures, rather than the hum drum Home Counties. Never say never and all that but in the UK at any rate, I would always rather live in postage sized apartment with Wembley Stadium’s iconic arches towering in the background than in a large house that I have nothing to leave it for.
Or as Lord Kitchener once famously sang: “At night when you have nothing to do. You can take a walk down Shaftesbury Avenue. There you will laugh and talk and enjoy the breeze. And admire the beautiful scenery of London: that’s the place for me.”