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davorg (18)

davorg
  dave@dave.org.uk
http://dave.org.uk/
Yahoo! ID: daveorguk (Add User, Send Message)

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Journal of davorg (18)

Sunday March 03, 2002
01:04 PM

London

[ #3265 ]

I love living in London. I moved here to come to University twenty years ago and since then I've never been away for more than three weeks at a time.

One of the things that I love so much is that even with six million people living here you don't have to talk to anyone if you don't want to. I hate it when I visit friends outside of London and they tell how they've been absorbed into the local community. I do have a community of friends, but very few of them live within walking distance of my home. Many of them aren't even on the same continent. But they are people that I choose to spend time with, rather than people that I just happen to live near.

The only time I have any contact with my neighbours is when I'm working in the front garden. This morning I was cleaning the front path when a woman came out from next door. We'd never met before, but had a brief conversation. Apparently she's been living there for 18 months. We've been here for almost four years. I remember the gay couple who lived there before her (I particularly remember the screaming rows they used to have) but I can honestly say that I've never noticed this new neighbour before today.

And that's just how I like it.

Then this afternoon we watched This Year's Love. This is one of my favourite films about London. Just six people interacting with each other over a period of a few years. It's great.

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  • Loneliness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matts (1087) on 2002.03.03 13:32 (#5382) Journal
    I can never quite put my finger on it, but big cities always make me feel incredibly lonely. London and New York both do that to me, yet nowhere else has really. I can stand in the middle of Oxford street, a thousand people passing by me in an instant, and feel the most agonising despair for someone to just be with me. [1]

    Yet I've never felt that way in the country. I could walk for miles on Strensall Common (across the road from where I grew up), or on the North York Moors, or even now, around the Cotswolds, and never see another soul, yet I'm at peace, and have no inate need to be with somebody.

    Strange. I'm sure someone much smarter than me can explain why.

    [1] That's not to say I don't understand those who love London — I can totally accept that — the variety and intensity is probably quite satisfying for some. Although I consider thinking it's a good thing to never communicate with one's neighbours [2] a tradgedy — people are almost always interesting, even if you hate them.

    [2] I'm not saying that's your ethos, dave, it just comes across as a preference.
    • Although I consider thinking it's a good thing to never communicate with one's neighbours a tragedy

      It's not that I never want to communicate with them. It's that I appreciate having the choice. I've been with people in smaller communities, when it takes them half an hour to do a ten minute walk because everyone they pass wants to stop and chat with them[1]. I'll probably say hello to this "new" woman when I next see her. But the people on the other side are complete nutters. Fascinating to watch from a d

      • Where I grew up, Southeastern Massachusetts, this has always been the case. People often don't know their neighbors, unless they want to. In California, on the other hand, there's an unspoken obligation to know everyone around you on a first-name basis.
        • In California, on the other hand, there's an unspoken obligation to know everyone around you on a first-name basis.

          That may be true in parts of the state, but it is hardly true in Silicon Valley. Most of my friends here know their neighbors only well enough to wave at them when they drive past, if that.

      • On the flip side, it's a choice to live in that sort of village community too. ;-)
    • I feel very similarly (sometimes). I rationalize my feeling thus:

      I think it is a case of "out of sight out of mind". By which I mean that in Oxford Street (London), there is a constant and never-ending flood of people and it is this that reminds me that I am just one of many millions of unique people and that they are all quite possibly feeling the same thing? Anywhere else it is much easier to pretend that you are the centre of your own universe because there are not lots of other people who are clearl

  • Just moved from one place in London to another. In the last place we would sit down with the neighbours every other weekend for an indian take away and a game of mahjong.

    New place we invited the neighbours around us to introduce ourselves. Turns out the guy to the left
    who lived there since 1947 had never spoken to
    the folks across the road, who lived there for 36 years already.

    Go on, call us yokels for being so small village neigbourly and meddling in London Big City ways :-)