Ever get the feeling you’ll need to flash your passport as your train rattles across the boundary into the M25? If so, you’re not the only one. Londoners have been joking – or seriously suggesting – that their city should be its own state for donkey’s years!
Well, London might be the capital of the UK, but it doesn’t always feel like it quite fits in. This is a place that follows its own rules and beats to its own drum. Here are 9 ways that London acts like a nation of its own.
1. The Futuristic Skyline
If picture-postcard Britain is all quaint villages, Tudor castles and country lanes, London is like a vision of the future dreamed up by a sci-fi writer with a love of blue-tinted glass and a penchant for magic mushrooms. Barely a year goes by without a bizarrely contoured megastructure blooming high into the London sky and quickly earning its own local nickname – the Gherkin, the Walkie-Talkie. It’s an unmistakable skyline, but one that’s a million miles away from your standard UK town.
2. It Has FIVE Airports
Okay, okay, so whether Luton, Stansted or even Gatwick are *really* in London is debatable, but still. What other city boasts five whole commercial airports? That’s the same number as Barbados, Malta, Brunei and Luxembourg put together.
3. It Has Its Own Language (Sort Of)
Take my lump of ice: ride a clever mike down the apples & pears and you’ll be brown bread, me old china! Got that? No? Not to worry, these days you’re more likely to hear Cockney Rhyming Slang in a Guy Ritchie film than the actual East End, but that doesn’t mean the capital doesn’t have its own distinctive turns of phrase – with a healthy smattering of Asian and Caribbean slang thrown in. ‘Low dat, fam.
4. Fashion Follows Its Own Rules Here
Beard-and-eyeliner combos: check. Unicycles: check. Dyed-black quasi-goth undercuts: check. This is a city where anything goes, even leopard-print skinny jeans and fluoro-coloured jumpsuits. Just you try that in Grantham. I double-dare you.
5. House Prices Never Crash
While the rest of the country has its normal ups and downs, London’s house prices just keep going up… and up… and up. Good news if you own a place; not so great if you’re renting.
Like the UK in general, though, things vary wildly from area to area, even within the capital and there are, thankfully, a handful of fun places that are still just about affordable for us lowly non-millionaires.
6. It Has a Separate Economy
Could London go it alone, financially speaking? Er, yes. If the capital became a Singapore-style city state it would have a GDP the same size of Sweden or Switzerland and would bring in twice as much money as Singapore. The streets might not quite be paved with gold, but there’s a lot of cash sloshing around the city!
7. It’s Culturally Unique
One of the best things about living in London is being in the middle of a great big hodgepodge of cultures (and cuisines) from all over the world. Depending on where in the city you live, your local go-to place for always-in-the-mood comfort food might be Indian, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Turkish, Italian, Ethiopian, Brazilian… you name it. The city is one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world, and that makes it a fabulous little microcosm all of its own.
8. It’s A Red Island in a Sea of Blue
Politics is just one more way that London refuses to fit in with its nearest neighbours. The 2015 elections might have seen most of the South of England turn Tory blue, but London bucked the trend, big-time – especially towards the centre, where just about every borough voted Labour instead.
9. Everyone Wants to Migrate Here
Is anyone from London actually from London? Moving to the big smoke after Uni (or for Uni, or instead of Uni, or at any other time in your life) is practically a right of passage for young Brits. Stroll down your average street and you’ll meet people who have been drawn to the bright lights of London from every corner of the globe – and every corner of the UK. And who can blame them? There’s just something about this place that makes it a world all of its own. Don’t see the attraction? Don’t be a doughnut.
Recently moved to London from elsewhere in the UK? Is living in the capital really so different to home? Share your stories in the comments below!