Don’t Give Up On London

London

As Brexit looms, iconic venues close, and terror threats reach record levels, Dylan Jones implores you to have faith in our city.

 

Living in London is tough. It NEVER lets up. Think a Tuesday night trip to Tesco will be a chilled, salubrious shopping experience? No. Because the homeless man on the corner’s gone into cardiac arrest, there’s a 30’s-themed swing night at the gastropub across the road, the frozen aisle’s gone into meltdown, and the queue for the self service checkouts reaches out the door and down the road. Sirens blare and pint glasses smash as people dressed like Agatha Christie shove mini sausage rolls in their clutch bags.

This is a perfect example of the wild unpredictability of our city. It’s like Lindsay Lohan. Very occasionally it’ll have a moment of tranquillity or artistic integrity, but mostly it’s just an illogical, drunken mess.

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It’s also a bit like The Hunger Games, especially for LGBT millennials. It’s easy to get disheartened by the constant stream of doom and gloom from mainstream news outlets. If the chemsex and pollution don’t get you, the rent hikes and terrorists will. Or you might just get hit by a bus while you’re playing Pokemon Go.

The fact is, the rent IS ridiculous. We’ve all had that anguished conversation with mum and dad on the phone haven’t we. “But darling, couldn’t you just live in Manchester? Manchester’s great! Or Brighton! You know, me and your dad looked at prices in Norfolk, and you can rent a five bedroom cottage with the amount you’re paying for a bedsit in Bethnal Green.” Yes mum, we know. But let’s face it, the reason we pay eye-wateringly extortionate rent, is because there’s simply nowhere like London. Nowhere in the UK anyway. We all moan, but if it wasn’t worth it, we wouldn’t still be here. Why? Because living here is amazing and glamorous and the possibilities are endless. In the words of Miranda Priestley, everybody wants to be us.

Next, terrorism. Yes, terrorism is a very real threat in London. As it is in every major European capital at the moment. But we can’t let it control our lives. As I’ve said in almost every opinion piece I’ve ever written…WE’VE GOT OYSTER CARDS TO TOP UP! WE’VE GOT DRAG QUEENS TO GET DRUNK WITH! If we never leave the house or get the tube for fear of being blown up, the terrorists have won. So forget about it and get on with your life. In fact if anything, live life with even more adventure and spontaneity than before. That’ll show ‘em!

Another thing that seems to be disheartening people, especially on the gay scene, is the closing of venues. It goes hand-in-hand with the blindly capitalist, relentless monster that is gentrification. And those two stomach-plunging, drink-smashing, gig-obliterating, pub-closing words: LUXURY FLATS. Just some of the iconic venues to close over the last few years are The Black Cap, The Joiners’ Arms, The George & Dragon, Area, The Green Carnation and, just last week, The Shadow Lounge and internationally renowned superclub, Fabric. Most of them have been taken over by millionaire apartment moguls or worse, transformed into chains like Pret or Pizza Express. Many see this as a symbol for dark times ahead. The quashing of bohemian creativity to make way for the rise of faceless consumerism.

What people have forgotten though, is that the way has been paved for new and exciting venues and nightlife concepts. The Glory in Haggerston is a perfect example – a creative, unique venue, run by creative, unique people who care about their customers and are passionate about giving the city something new and truly enjoyable. It’s living proof that London still has hope. No matter how many bulldozers get sent in, no matter how many city boys named Kev stumble into Shoreditch, no matter how many Foxtons Estate Agents get installed on high streets, we will always bounce back with innovation, imagination, and John Sizzle.

I’ve had some of my darkest times in London. Terrified 3am escapes from physically violent landlords. Collapsing in the snow. Getting trapped in a chicken shop in Camden when they rolled the metal blinds down while I was still inside. I could go on. Basically, it’s a miracle I’m still alive with all my bodily functions.

But I’ve also had the best times of my life in London. I won’t go into it, because it’d just turn into a monologue about how wonderful my life is, which let’s face it, would make everyone hate me. We’ll just leave it at this: it’s been amazing. And continues to be amazing. At least once a week, something happens that’s so ridiculous, exciting, unexpected, or all of the above, that it takes my breath away.

I’ve lived here for over six years, and every day, it still delivers. At risk of sounding like a breathy Sarah Jessica Parker voiceover – my dreams have come true in this city. Don’t look at me like that. They have! When I was fourteen years old and had just recently come out as gay, I remember chatting to my parents about what I wanted to do with my life. I said my dream would be working at a gay magazine, surrounded by beautiful, artistic, open-minded people. That dream has been realised, down to the last shimmering hand-glued sequin. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

So don’t give up on London. Enjoy its wildness, its grittiness, its unadulterated, unapologetic insanity. Throw cautions to the wind, down a shot of tequila and hope for the best. Happy Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favour.

More: How To Live Your Larna Del Rey Fantasy On The Streets Of London
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        How to survive London On £50 per week

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