I spent Sunday in London with my folks, I went to the Royal Festival Hall with my mum for a concert (St Matthews passion - fab), while my dad met up with my bro and they went to the Imperial War Museum.
I realised about 10 minutes after arriving in London that each time I visit it, I loathe it more and more. The beautiful "Old London" with it's churches, minsters, architecture, heritage, monuments, museums and history is slowly being drowned by the "New London" with it's misfit architecture, filthy sooty streets, Millennium eyesores, and what must be the scruffiest dressed people in the universe.
The coach journey into Liverpool Street took us through the outskirts, properties crammed and bursting out of the pavements, shops with shutters down, black bulging bin bags in the gutter, litter litter everywhere, filthy windows, filthy unpainted doors, broken railings, so many tatty houses all no doubt with ludicrous price tags just because they were in London. Lovely old buildings with exquisite masonrywork were standing next to hideous modern steel and glass blemishes that had been erected with no consideration for their surroundings (hideous new building like this right next to the Houses of Parliament, check it out).
Miles of cracked pavements, some of them dotted with red sprayed circles where there are plans to replace them (eventually). Lovely lattice-brickwork pedestrianised areas spotted with grey blobs of chewing gum, flower borders and small lawned areas overgrowing and unkempt, grafitti everywhere, litter everywhere, the Thames with its lovely shade of shit-brown, its fetid stench, and floating parade of litter, and gaunt beggars puffing away on expensive ciggies while asking for spare change for their next pack of Marlboros. Concrete steps and slopes had been chipped away by skateboarders, and crumbled brickwork spilt out from every stairway.
I realise that I am describing most large cities in the UK but London is meant to be our flagship - one of our biggest tourist attractions, bringer of foreign income, shining contender for the Olympics (interval while I fall off chair laughing). All I could see was "Shithole" plastered over every slab of dirty concrete I passed by.
Whilst people-watching with my mum in a grotty street cafe, we tried in vain to spot a smartly-dressed human being. Why do Londoners always dress in shit? I get the impression they all think they are being cool, trendy, hip, arty and very "London" but they all looked like f*cking dossers. Fat girls who have no right to wear hipsters were spilling out over their waistbands, guys were wearing their jeans halfway down their arses, girls with greasy matted dreads, girls with badly fitting stretched coats, guys in hideous ancient badly-fitting jackets shuffled along in battered trainers, it was like being in one huge shelter for the homeless. Maybe I'm too used to spenidng time at Forties events, where the men and women were all beautifully tailored in clothes that flattered their figure, whatever that figure may be? I was just sick of looking in all directions and seeing SCRUFF.
I guess it can't be helped - mass production of clothes and todays junk and processed food generation of all shapes and degrees of fatness can't be tailored for anymore, so clothes are made to just "hang" on our bodies, not shape to them and flatter them.
In all my entire day in London just painted a very depressing scene. In my mind it's no longer the flagship of our country, it's just overhyped, overpriced, tired, dirty and polluted. I was very relieved as we sped away from it on the train and I was surrounded by greenery and space once more.
On a slightly different note, aren't parents embarassing? My mum is 64 now and my dad 67 - they are in amazing shape for their ages but they're at that stage in life now where they say stuff too loud and don't care who hears it.
Mum sat in the middle of Liverpool St Station and said loudly "ooh there are a lot of Chinese people here aren't there....and they all look the same!" she also commented "there are too many male couples walking around", even though I pointed out they could just be mates hanging out together, and if they were a couple then so what? She whinged loudly about the skateboarders, and while I agree that they were doing a great job trashing all the concrete steps, they could be doing worse things like peddling drugs on a street corner, or mugging grannies like her.....
During our lunch break she picked up one of the chicken salad wraps I had carefully prepared that morning, and likened it to "a floppy wet penis" (cue surprised looks from neighbouring table and me crawling under said table), then when we met back up with my dad and brother for a meal on a Thames-side boat restaurant, dad commented loudly about "big stiff poos" floating by the window, before beaming around the restaurant like he had told the funniest joke of the universe.
I know that you are meant to turn into your parents when you get older, so I'd like a volunteer now to monitor my progress and shoot me if I ever get close to my own dear folks....