I used to love London
I still like it, although I have lost some of my enthusiasm in the past few years. Visiting London, or the UK for that matter, is somewhat bitter-sweet these days. And my visits seem to be getting less and less frequent. In fact, last autumn I didn’t visit the UK for 5 months (mainly because I was busy with work), and I didn’t really miss it.
It’s because of Brexit, of course: why would I want to visit a place where I’m seen as a second-class citizen? I’m not a masochist: I think it’s useless banging my head against a brick wall. It’s not going to make the wall love me more: it will only give me a permanent headache.
So, even though we still have a house in the UK, and Professor M still works there, I no longer consider the UK my home (or even a second home). These days I’m just a visitor, and a very infrequent one at that. Let’s call that a long goodbye before the eventual parting…
Anyway, this is what this little post is about: a walk down the memory lane, evoking similar feelings as seeing someone you used to love, long after you’ve moved on. You can reminisce about the good times and share a few laughs, while secretly thinking how shabby and old they suddenly look…
Anyway, for my walk-down-memory-lane I chose an area I’m only marginally familiar with: East London. I thought maybe I should make an effort to see what the fuss is about. You know, while I still can…
Yes, I realise the UK is still going to be there after Brexit (next year), but I will be having my holidays somewhere else. Where my passport and my name are not treated as something offensive.
So, what was it that I was looking for, on this walk? I don’t really know. I’ve always loved graffiti, and I sort of collect photos of inspiring graffiti I see on my travels. And what better place than East London to go looking for some impressive wall art, right?
But I just couldn’t find the enthusiasm. I walked around aimlessly (which I always love to do when I travel), but I just couldn’t get excited. Yes, there was plenty of amazing wall art around. I was just bored. As in, been there, done that, let’s get this over with.
Yes, this is what it has come to: politics has ruined my relationship with London. The Brextremists have poisoned everything I used to love about the UK. Things will never be the same again.
And yet, a small part of me is still looking for that spark of resistance: the strong expression of our common European purpose and shared values. I keep looking for it in the faces of strangers I see on the Tube. Or maybe there’s a rebellion brewing, taking an artistic form in the city streets?
Fat chance. All I found was this:
Seeing this just made me depressed. And when I get depressed I become a cynic.
I really think the artist should have added a few groupies, to show some integrity. I always find it a bit hypocritical how Brits are so keen to criticise dictators and wannabe dictators all over the world while simultaneously condoning their own home-grown band of fascists…
Now, in case you feel a sudden urge to express shock / disgust / annoyance seeing a bit of politics on the blog, or are tempted to lecture me to keep my opinions to myself, let me just say this: not going to happen. I have never shied away from expressing my opinions, and I’m not going to start now. Neither has this blog ever been a politics-free zone: I have made my views on various issues clear before, and will continue to do so in the future.
And the way I see it, half the world (including the UK) seems to be in the throes of some sort of a psychotic identity crisis. Where that leaves the rest of us, well, we can either try to keep common sense afloat, by refusing to play along with this narcissistic game of self-harm, or shut up and be complicit in letting the world drown…
Right, let’s lighten the mood a bit…
In spite of all the depressing stuff going on the world, there’s also incredible beauty and skilled artists. This is why I find graffiti inspiring:
Have a great weekend, wherever you are!
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I think it is so sad that you feel that way!Perhaps you could try the country side more.
I think it's worse in the countryside. Besides, our house is in a small town, away from London (which is by far the most liberal and outward-looking part of the country), right in the middle or Tory-land…
well, at least you enjoyed some Street Art, which could uplift your mood. When the world looks so ridiculously stupid, Art is the one thing that keeps my faith on humanity. I was shocked by Brexit too, as I always felt welcome in London, but not anymore. After all, I'm a citizen of one of those southern countries which are usually looked upon with disdain. Anyway, I'm in love with those last pictures, such awesome art!besos
Well, London is still OK, the liberal centre where you hear different languages and see people from many different backgrounds. But in this current climate I would be reluctant to speak Finnish on the phone in public places. There have been way too many attacks on EU27 nationals, simply because they were speaking a language other than English… And as someone coming from a country with a higher standard of living than the UK, I'm not exactly used to the idea of being the target of xenophobia…
It is a shame that Brexit has spoiled your love for the UK so much. As there are so many people in the UK who do not think of you as second rate citizens, who are against Brexit. I think you will be able to continue working and visiting there after Brexit, but if you feel like this, you don't want to. Shame really. Can't you focus on the nice people who live there too? In spite of the government?Hmm.. I have the feeling that isn't you.As for lovely graffiti… visit Valencia in Spain. Awesome. My friend Anja visited it recently and although she had little time to photograph, just snapping away gave her loads of examples (on her blog: curlytraveller.com).Greetje
Yes, I think Brexit has changed a lot, for me personally, too. I will continue visiting, of course. But not because I want to; because I have to (given that hubby works there, and it's not fair to make him travel every weekend).I've never been to valencia, but that definitely sounds like a place worth visiting. Thanks for the tip!
Tiina, I can only imagine how you must feel when you travel to the U.K. knowing the reasons behind that Brexit vote. On another note that street art is truly spectacular.
Thanks, Jill. Yes, I think many EU27 nationals feel a bit betrayed, and it will probably be impossible to 'get back to normal'. It's sort of as if you'd been stabbed in the back by a friend.