Londoners: Are We Proud or Ashamed?
Written by: Sophie Dyer
According to a recent Provident Personal Credit survey Londoners still remain at the bottom of the friendliness scale scoring just 6.44 out of 10.
Begging the question, how could anyone possibly be proud to be a Londoner?
A city where its inhabitants revel in their ability to remain as cynical and isolated from the outside world as possible.
A shallow group of people who are far more interested in Instagramming their brunch then saving money to buy houses or giving back to the community.
If that means barging into innocent tourists at Kings Cross to get to that new pop up bar in time, so be it. It’s also socially acceptable to pretend that you don’t speak English when someone tries to talk to you on the tube. And as far as knowing your neighbours’ names? Don’t be stupid! Londoners don’t interact with anyone outside their circle.
Or so that’s what we’re told.
I found that although not a single Londoner is alike, it may be more of case of Londoner’s simply picking their battles and focusing their energy on the things that matter.
Because let’s face it, London is a tough city to make it in and despite the idea of wellbeing taking centre stage it seems that the next generation of Londoners will have to work even harder to keep their heads above water.
That equals a stressed out and constantly tired group of people who may or may not be tiptoeing on the edge of their overdraft.
In all honesty, we are all guilty of getting caught up in our problems and perhaps Londoners are just a little more upfront about it.
Or maybe the world should do better than to judge every Londoner in the same way.
Regardless of how the stereotypical Londoner is often portrayed, I knew I was proud to be one when I saw the capital’s reaction to the recent terror attacks in Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park as well as the horror of Grenfell Tower.
Londoner’s from every walk of life coming together with longing to volunteer and comfort those who were most in need. This coupled with an attitude of defiance against attacks in the capital (insert a keep calm and carry on pun here).
I found it bizarre that these were the same people who are often labelled with ‘Britain’s rudest’ title yet there they were being in fact quite the opposite.
I moved to London around eighteen months ago and although I settled into my North London home pretty quick, it was in that moment of pride while witnessing first hand Londoners coming together that I knew I was part of something a lot bigger.
As someone who grew up in a quiet suburban town in Kent, London always felt like a far off dream and something I was itching to be a part of.
A place where you were free to love who you want, believe what you want but more importantly a city where you didn’t have to be born there to truly belong.
Even though there are times that the capital can feel all-consuming and sometimes so vast you can feel somewhat insignificant, isn’t it ironic that I’ve never felt more part of a community than anywhere else?
I’ve found that in North London it’s a place where so many cultures are immersed into one, cultures I have no real part of and yet still I feel at home.
It’s somewhere where diversity is celebrated and that’s also something that I take great pride in. The person that London has made me: with constant exposure to incredible people from a variety of backgrounds who have taught me so many things.
I have been able learn not only about these amazing cultures but also about myself. The Londoners that I surround myself with are constantly challenging and teaching me, and regardless of their postcode they bring something to my life that I hadn’t found before.
As someone who always thought that the most important thing in life was fit in to in, here I was presented with the reality that being true to yourself it not something that you need hide.
Londoners don’t care about your race, sexuality, gender, religious beliefs, social status etc. and as someone who’s had the fortune to travel a lot; there are few cities that I think can match that mentality.
That’s not to say that London is this all embracing advert for diversity because it has a long way to go. But when it comes to coming together in difficult circumstances, I think that Londoners have got that nailed.
Nearly every day I walk down the bustling high street in Golders Green where you’ll find amazing Turkish restaurants, delicious Jewish bakeries and Korean supermarkets all within a stone’s throw from one another. It’s the people behind those businesses that give Golders Green its cosmopolitan identity and make it such a great place to live.
Like any other human being Londoners have their flaws. But whether you’re a Londoner who eats avocado on toast in Stoke Newington or simply loves dipping your toes in the ladies pond at Hampstead Heath, by standing together in such difficult times you’re setting an example to the world of how and why it is awesome to be a Londoner.
Photos by Mike Barry.
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