“Dear old dirty London” isn’t so dirty any more, in fact it’s rather nice to come back to.
Home after a summer of much travelling to some fine places with exotic names, it’s time to enjoy London again; the city taken for granted by us Londoners but still mobbed by many tourists and people seeking better lives.
Starting from Barons Court, my local tube station (from where I have departed for so many adventures) the brick architecture and rounded design of the old trains seem friendly and warm compared with so much tech-look steel and concrete elsewhere; then meeting for coffee a friend in Foyles’ stylish new bookshop in Charing Cross Road, walking homewards from the burlesque of Chinatown, Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road and through the monumental calm of the war memorials at Hyde Park Corner amidst the thunder not of guns but of the traffic.
London is changing - cranes abound - but the historic lines and colours moderate even the brutalist boxes (like Centre Point) or the rapidly increasing number of post post-modern fantasies.
It’s the people who make the difference; even if the streets are not literally paved with gold, they are cleaner than you’d expect from the words “Dear old dirty London” of the old song, now mostly remembered as a bawdy rugby club song. Londoners walk their streets confidently and with high expectations; events happen mostly safely and mostly without oppressive police supervision, today’s skate blade rally around in Oxford Street and Shaftesbury Avenue seemed to be without an active police escort: a freedom to be cherished.