The quote “when a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life” was famously uttered by Samuel Johnson, who was discussing with his friend and fellow writer James Boswell whether London is more attractive to the visitor or to the resident. Now, for more than a decade I have been a big fan of London and while others have come and gone, as the City of Cities is a highly transitional place, I stayed put for quite a while. Until recently that is.
I might be a(n almost) recovered news junkie, I still consume the diet offered by a small selection of UK newspapers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m looking in from the outside, but the UK seems even more gloomy than it did when I lived there only a couple of months ago. Gloom tends to dominate the news as apparently, like sex, it sells. But what impact are stories on economic gloom including a sluggish labour market, high youth unemployment, a squeezed middle, an increasing underclass and an inaccessible housing market in London topped off with average weather supposed to have on Londoners and other UK residents? It’s not only the UK that seems bleak. Other nations in Europe seem to be in crisis as well and the mighty US of A ain’t grooving as a super power should either. You almost wonder if all those people from outside Fort Europe, who are desperate to get in, got it all wrong. They’re having this idea of the fabulous West as if it were Eldorado. But Europe has been stagnant- if not declining- for quite some time while several nations in the East and the Global South are booming. I wonder if I had the same misconception about London. As the economic and cultural capital of Europe it sure is the place to be. Growing up as a Dark Fairy in provincial and predominantly white settings, arriving in the City of Cities was like arriving in this delicious haven of diversity and opportunities, where no one has to feel left out. The idea of that delicious haven of diversity and opportunities is true to a certain extent. Diverse with opportunities it certainly is, but one sure can feel left out. Not only is London one of the most expensive cities in Fort Europe, it also attracts a lot of people with plenty of talent and drive and if you lack behind it is easy to miss out.
As I arrived in Malta on a late Sunday morning I was shocked by how quiet it was on the streets and wondered if I’d done the right thing. But while adapting to my new rock of residence I was highly surprised by how little I thought of the place I just left behind. That place that always had a special place in my heart. Question of out of sight, out of mind?
Perhaps it was just a sign that it was really high time for me to go. I have always known that London is not for everyone and for a long time I felt it was most definitely for me. But times change and people change. London might be as vibrant as it was in Dr. Johnson’s age, it now is an entirely different place. The Rock is so much smaller. Although international it lacks the cosmopolitan excitement and Dark Fairies are considered a tat more exotic. But I guess I was in high need of some economic and Mediterranean sunshine to wash away the tiredness I inflicted upon myself by means of London living. If the cliche is true that life’s a journey, I guess we should just keep on moving. And perhaps Johnson’s quote is not applicable to Dark Fairies after all.
image below: Jason Hawkes/guardian.com