One Week In July – You Touched My City
It's big and univiting, and the people in it are unfriendly.
Apart from all those people you know and grew up with, you mean? Y'know, the kids you played with, your parents' friends, your relatives…
That's a fraction of the 10 million people who are there! And it stinks.
Yeah but the fraction of the ones you know who you don't like is minimal. Extrapolate. Anyway, everywhere stinks, the city, the country, you've lived in both, you know this is true.
But it's so brutal, so dog-eat-dog.
You're up to it. You were when you lived there.
Parts of it are falling apart.
And getting rebuilt. The new Olympic site? And the bits that exist ain't too bad. Great Ormand Street? Don't you owe it your life?
Ok, so a hospital and a non-existant sports ground...
And a million and one other things.
The IOC saw it. Remember how we watched on a TV in a hotel in Amsterdam? How the English Eurosport was simply spoken over by a Dutchman. We could still hear the English underneath. The blonde reporter who was bubbling away, clearly biased but trying to be objective. How we groaned as they dragged out the moment when we were sure that Paris would win. Mum said she thought it would be Paris. How we watched the countries' videos, the self important Parisien one, the half arsed New York one, the frankly baffling Muscovite one and the unmemorable Madrileno effort. Ours was witty. It was cute. It had the women out of M People who is half human half foghorn. We were passionate and that's how we got it.
Remember the Dome?
Yes, and so does everyone else. They won't cock this up like that. And anyway I like the Dome. It's a good building and it's being recycled. We recycle our waste. Old buildings and new purposes.
I'll believe it when I see it.
And you'll see it. Live 8? Whatever your stance on the principles, we put it on at short notice and people came.
It involved Mariah Carey.
Not my fault.
So it can host concerts of controversy, so what?
You're not being constructive here. You want to argue with me then be more constructive.
Navigable. You hate driving, and anyway, the public transport there is good…
I know where this is going now.
All doubts must be faced.
London isn't perfect. But imperfection is endearing and deserves better.
Yes and no. Yes for the people, always the people. But no because I can't see anything other than defeat in sadness. Or fear. They want that. That unseen, uncertain 'they' who have such a void in them. I can only feel pity for them, pity that they are such malformed humans that they can twist their lives into the hateful way they are now. I can't bring myself to anger over them because they want that and they do not deserve what they want.
It was a shock...
Yeah, just us and the BBC World Service. There was initial shock, even knowing that it would come can't prepare you for when it does. But it faded and the only option that remained was the one I chose.
They want to change us but we can't. We won't. We will not be dictated to. It's not the London way. We built a city on the hundreds of groups who settled there. It's glue. No divisions, no quarter, no splits. I, and millions of others, will do what we always do, because this is what scares the bombers, our freedom to be as we want to be. I'll take buses and tubes. I'll be free. I always said I could never live in London again, but I'll never feel seperate from it. They claimed they had London shaking in fear. They wish. Look at yesterday and the Second World War comemmorations. These terrorists can look at one of the largest, best organised armies in history, the Nazi army, and see how it failed.
London – The Moscow of the West. You'll have the power if you take it… but you can never take it. It's ours and forever we will guard it.