Archive Article: 2001/11/02

2 November 2001

LIFEs different in London. Its dirty, grimy. You notice it on the tube – certainly the Northern Line – where the seats are dusty and torn, and litter and discarded copies of The Metro virtually carpet the floor. I was sitting on there the other day and saw fleas jumping on the seats. Fleas!

You notice the dirt on the bricks, too – bricks which were once white or yellow are black from the car exhausts and smoke. I feel like scrubbing them clean.

Maybe you just notice bricks in the city because youre closer to other buildings. Sometimes I feel as if Im living with my next-door neighbours. I can tell you what time they get up and what time they go to bed; what TV they watch and what radio stations they listen to; what time, even, they use the toilet! Its like being back in the halls of residence at college.

If I can hear them, I guess they can hear me. For this reason I keep a radio in the bathroom. Sometimes I whistle, too, to be on the safe side. And sorry, should they happen to be reading this, about last Saturday night. We probably shouldnt have had the music up that loud. And Tom definitely shouldnt have used that lamp post outside your house for what he did. All I can say in his defence is that were from the country and are used to answering the call of nature the moment it strikes.

Sometimes when I sit at my desk in my room I see the man next door sitting at his desk a few feet away. Weve never spoken but we exchange a glance or two then look back at our screens. One thing Ive learnt from using the tube is never catch anyones eye. Assume everyones a psychopath unless you know for a fact to the contrary.

Last night I noticed the flashings on my neighbours chimney needed replacing. Its weird, but I had an urge to go out there and fix them. Maybe Im missing practical work. My mother always said I got restless if I wasnt doing anything with my hands.

The nearest I get to practical work nowadays is the washing-up in the flat, and tackling that after the three of us have been ignoring it for a few days (or weeks) is more like hard labour than practical work.

It might be frustrating working in an office, but I should be grateful for the regular salary. Its the first time in my life I have not been short of a few quid. Not, of course, that the money lasts long in London. A big chunk of this months salary disappeared last weekend in The Duke of Argyll in Soho. It would probably have been easier just to cut out the middle man and get my salary paid straight into the pubs bank account.

Id been promising my mates for ages Id show them the sights so, with harvest over, two of them came to stay for a couple of days. They enjoyed the sights, especially the sights of Soho.

Our monthly Letter from London brings

you the highs and lows of one countryman living and

working in the capital – but whose heart remains

firmly back on the farm

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