When You’re Tired Of London You’re On To Something

I’ve only been back in London for a few days and already the grip of ambition and envy has begun to clamp around me in an uncomfortable squeeze. Gentlemen, all of us know where this pressure is physically manifested.

Every Porsche that drives past, or Primrose Hill house that beams across the park reminds the onlooker that someone’s doing well for themselves. A lunch meeting in the city had me scurrying back home to escape the feeling that everyone else in the city is suited and propelling themselves forward, leaving me in their wake. Advertisements and conspicuous consumption pervade, leaving even the most hardy Simpletom with a see-saw of perceived wants. Even being fully aware of these pulls and pushes, they’re exhausting to fight.

“Oh look, there’s one of those new [insert product with shiny poster here] – wouldn’t it be nice if…?”

Only to be tempered by the Simpletom jumping back into action:

“On reflection it wouldn’t be sensible to buy a new laptop given that I have a perfectly functioning old one in my rucksack, plus I could survive in Africa for 4 months in luxury for the same money”.

It’s pretty tiring being in London. There’s so much to do, so many people to see, so much to buy, so many people, so much to miss.

Which leads me to wonder, is it better to be in London and conquer these? Is the Simpletom greater who can live amongst the noise and find peace, or is this just another bit of ambition disguised as a good idea. To become the best Simpletom ever and dominate the world of Simplefolk [insert evil cackle].

Another thing wot I’ve noticed, being all wide-eyed an all, is how amazingly easy and good everything is (as long as we’re not eyeing up someone else’s loot).

You can drink from the taps, buildings don’t collapse, drinks are always cold, shops are fully (perhaps over) stocked, petrol stations have petrol, cars work, there aren’t cows and goats running across the road, the traffic’s not that bad, you can see a doctor free, and anything you could think of is at the end of our iPad-wielding fingers.

Yet people whine and whinge about the health service, inflation, politics, traffic, others ALL THE TIME. It feels, to someone who’s still just got the perspective of a far-flung place where all of this doesn’t happen so cleanly, that we are, in fact, just a group of unappreciative bastards, looking for things to moan about.

At least our politicians aren’t crooks taking bribes and running illicit businesses atop their already huge salaries.

At least we’re not going to die of an easily curable disease (tuberculosis) leaving five family members because we can’t afford the hospital fees, which sadly happened to someone in my neighbouring village two weeks ago (yes, I did try to help but sadly it was too little too late).

At least we can go into debt if we need to.

At least the sight of a police officer doesn’t induce fear.

Yet we whine and whine. It’s almost as if the better life becomes, the more things we have to find to point out that it’s rubbish. With so many problems at their bare feet, it seems that many Africans decide to enjoy the moment, yet we Londoners are in a permanent state of anxiety that everything is going to shit, even though it’s really rather spanking.

Is it wise to live in London and fight the good fight, or better to opt for a more provincial life, which might be, god forbid, considered somewhat boring?

I’ll keep you posted. For now, I’m off to goggle at some gadgets I never knew I needed.

Psst – If you liked this post, sling it on… Ta muchly.

9 thoughts on “When You’re Tired Of London You’re On To Something

  1. I needed to read this post today. Thank you Simpletom. Keep fighting the fight and don’t give into being indifferent. Indifference = Consent. We’re coming to London in a little over one month but truth be told your post simply reminds me to look beyond the billboards and show my little one, one of the world’s great cities and to see the good in it all. Can’t wait to see you on the coast! Today, I am grateful and going to make it my personal goal to avoid whining for as long as possible. (I think I’ve been a tad too whiny lately when I really should be happy to have my health, family and friends and to live in such a glorious environment).

  2. I’ve always liked this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think…. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

  3. Ahh tom, your thoughts echo mine. In fact, I just sent you an email along the same lines, we must have been writing simultaneously. I prefer the provincial option, it is indeed a much much easier battle to fight… How long will your ‘outside observer’ attitude stay with you? keep it fresh and move on x x x

  4. Thanks folks, wonderful thoughts. Loved this note I got from Olivia in my inbox about the homecoming, which I thought I’d share:

    “How does it feel? Are you enjoying cool nights and sleeping under a duvet? Do you feel a bit like a foreigner, an outside observer, standing back and looking somewhat sceptically at it all? Do you feel dizzy when you go to the supermarket or on the tube because there is just so much to look at, so much information to absorb? Do you keep thinking about practical things, like, how is the hot water stored before it comes out of my shower? Do we have two water tanks in our house? Where are they? And how come all the water is drinkable, how do they do that? Isn’t it amazing that the electricity never cuts out? etc etc. Do you notice how smooth the roads are when you go in the car? And how fast you go on the motorway? And doesn’t it feel weird to go into a shop and not say hello to the owner as you walk in, just pick something up and buy it. When you opened your suitcase did you clothes still smell of Kenya? Do they look horribly faded and dirty? And doesn’t it feel strange to be inside so much, don’t you miss being outside, sleeping almost outside? I think I can imagine some of the things you may be feeling.

    But god, doesn’t the food taste good! And isn’t it fun seeing so many friends again?!”

    Nail firmly slapped upon le tete.

  5. hmm you have some very good points here and yes we are a bunch of moaners – the health service really doesn’t work well if you are in need of an operation but it’s not life threatening or if you need to see a specialist for example.

    Are you sure you should be drinking London water???? Don’t you know how many times it has been through the system – literally – and how many chemicals are used in the “cleaning” process? It is scary. I never drink the water in any country but especially not in big cities.

    Stay or go – I grew up an hour commute from London and it’s the best of both world’s, I think. You can get the culture, the food (but don’t British veggies suck?!), etc, but then can leave and not get caught up in the madness of hurry and competition.

    Sorry, my long two-penneth.

  6. Another thing that happens when you go to London is YOU STOP WRITING YOUR BLOG! Take some time dude, your pearls of wisTOM are appreciated and I’m missing it in my reader. 😉

    Big love and respect,


  7. Ha. WisTom. I’ll have to remember that. Thanks Jonah – I really appreciated it and apologize for my lack of presence. Should be a new one coming online today… still clinging to the vestiges of perspective from Africa.
    Hope you’re doing spankingly and big love right back at ya.

  8. So many of us would love to opt out and lead the simple life but some of us have to keep earning and paying tax to keep all the passangers. My parents, grandparents and we workers all pay a huge per cent of our earnings so that we can keep a civilised society functioning – so when we need the benefits – law, street lights, water, we damn well expect them to function. My recent experience of the NHS was so ghastly I realised I can no longer rely upon it – it was filthy, chaos, terryifying. Don’t let us even mantion care homes. No why should I work to support a system that is failing me – others come a reap the benefits with no input to the system and overstretch it for us all. Yes I might as well opt out of civilisation too – the benefits are no longer there.

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