Monday, 28 November 2011

Life Beyond London...

Ladies and gentleman, I have a warning for you. More specifically, a warning to those of you who live in London. You are in danger. In fact, the longer you have lived in London, the greater the danger is. Those of you born and bred in the city are probably beyond help, as are those who never venture further than that insulating M25 boundary.
The danger? Becoming a snob. Not just any old snob, but a London snob. You find yourself pitying visitors to the capital who struggle to get to grips with the tube. You roll your eyes at your colleague who commutes in from their freehold in the middle of nowhere every day as they give you yet another update on their chickens’ egg production. Even I often find myself wrinkling my nose when I head up north as I quote Bridget Jones’ nemesis Natasha;
“Doesn’t anything work outside of London?”
Well, in case you were wondering, yes it does. Take the last week, for example. After a failed attempt to get pre-release tickets for Florence and the Machine, on Friday I tried my luck once more. I wasn’t hopeful – tickets went on sale at 9am, and my boss had scheduled my six month review for the same time. Asking him to postpone whilst I went online to buy tickets for a gig was not really an option. So, at 11.35, I rushed back to my computer and went straight to Ticketmaster. Of course, Ally Pally had sold out. My heart sank. I looked at the other venues to see if she was playing anywhere nearby on a weekend. A Sunday night gig at Cardiff just wasn’t going to work, and Bournemouth had nothing left either. But there were still tickets left for Nottingham. It was on a Tuesday, but a quick calculation convinced me that we could leave London at 5 and be in our seats before even the supporting act appeared on stage. Let’s face it – hundreds of people travel into London to see shows and events, so why couldn’t I do the reverse?
More than a little smug, I headed to Kings Cross and caught a train to meet my mum and sister in York. Sis had arranged for us to stay at her friend’s luxury flat over the weekend for a bit of girly bonding and a spot of Christmas shopping. Although it was certainly a welcome break, I didn’t have high hopes for my Christmas list – but was pleasantly surprised. The St Nicholas Market provided some beautiful gifts for a couple of girlfriends and something rather cool for my cousin’s son. The Shambles rustled up a rather specific – and had to find – foodie gift, and a little shop just around the corner from the flat ticked all the boxes for a fashion-loving chocoholic. The high street saw another friend crossed off the list and filled some gaps in my parent’s stockings. By the time I got the train home, my cotton shopping bag was bulging – and my Christmas list is looking much more manageable as we head into December.
The moral of the story? Londoners, there is life beyond Watford Junction. And it can provide you with a plethora of delights, from shopping and gigs to a little bit of peace on quiet. So, next time your colleague invites you over to her country retreat for a home grown, hand reared Sunday roast, take her up on it. You will be pleasantly surprised. Just make sure you take a good book with you – no, not because you’ll be bored, but in case your train gets stuck behind a broken down one just north of Huntingdon. I know, it’s a real inconvenience. And it would never happen in the city...

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