London’s Seven (Excellent) Wonders
1. The Impromptu!
Walking into a theatre off the street at 7:20pm and getting a ticket for a so-called sold-out West End play. Gathering friends at short notice, wandering off to find a pub or a restaurant without having booked.
2. The Low Key!
Curling up with some Squeezable Marmite, McVities Chocolate Digestives, a nice cup of tea on a rainy afternoon, or wandering around parks in your favourite ratty jumper. London is about wearing and doing whatever you want.
3. The Calories!
The South Bank on a warm summer morning one hour before the tourists turn up, followed by breakfast in Brixton Market, a lunchtime beer in Spittalfields, Dim Sum in Chinatown, Sunday chicken, lamb or beef with a Yorkshire at the Pig & Butcher or the Jugged Hare or the Lady Ottoline, an evening curry in Brick Lane. Calories be damned!
4. The free stuff!
London is one of the most expensive cities on earth but there are free museums, movies, plays, concerts and readings – it’s just knowing where to look. And my free coming-of-age travel pass. How cool are those things? I keep thinking they’ve made some kind of weird mistake.
5. The language!
How many complex pinball-topic conversations can you have in a single day just by walking around London by yourself and chatting to people? Savour the sarcasm and surreal off-the-cuff wit! Listen to a taxi driver rant! Have a drunken pub conversation about Iron Man taking down Boris Johnson!
6. The Unexpected!
Leadenhall Market, the Huntarian, the Cinema Museum, site-specific pop-ups, unscheduled events, a protest march you didn’t know about, secret gigs, a barely advertised appearance (last week I heard Alan Bennett discuss his career an hour before curtain up on one of his plays), a band you’ve never heard of turning out to be brilliant.
7. The diversity!
All the languages of the world are here, yet everyone who spends even just a short time in London becomes an honarary Londoner, and starts apologising for standing on the wrong side of the escalator. It’s the most inclusive city in the world, and gets moreso with each passing year as the wealthy head off to their countryside estates, leaving the place to those who really appreciate it.