Writing about writing about London

Something really contemporary about millennials in London living in small rooms on wages smaller than they were promised during A-levels, each wondering ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ on their online dating profiles as 22 becomes 25. Write about awareness of immigration and multiculturalism and the growing pace of UKIP, oil prices, underground fares, the neverending march of sport or cultural items or must-see Danish/US series on pirate websites that you can use to while away the time between trips to the pub, gym hits and giving up smoking, so you can present to yourself and others the idea that you are rounded and engaged. Yeah, I could write that, be the fucking…London Lena Dunham but instead of white/female/privileged/mental health/sexually open it’d be more like white/male/privileged/mental health/ebbing frustration. The weather’s worse, the museums less glitz, the theatres seem tacky from the outside (which is all we ever see them from) and the odd Hyde Park festival uses public ground for profitmaking, walled, guarded events. The monuments and palladia of imperial pissing contests remain clustered by the river and spattered among newer districts, all tired and aimless, dirtied by the traffic and stubbornly grey after rain. Revellers in Clapham on inheritances or grad scheme salaries juxtaposed with the more honest Camden party atmosphere, itself well past its peak, with edgy-dressers all equally unsurprising and drugs drying up and the idea that they’re seizing their youth painfully clicheed. Yeah I can write about that. Buzz fed up with the Thirty Two Things You Notice About The Countryside When You’ve Lived In London just in case you needed reminding of those things (that were true) or the smug affrontedness for those (that weren’t true) because now pointing out the obvious is something seen as socially valuable, because ‘meta’ and ‘ironic’ are mighty shrines to visit by clicks or in person twice a day, just past this delicious Egyptian pop-up lunch place I heard about from a guy at the office. Filled with a commitment to self knowledge of your own important specialness and how vital it is to tweetagram details, or at least observations, that come across as unique or at least artfully deployed borrowings, so you can be upvoted and liked by people you don’t know and gain a few rungs in the game of sharing formerly personal, even poignant idiosyncrasies with harvesting advertising data trawlers and the panopticon government that’s probably not watching. But might be. Vogue topics including the morality of moralising about celebrity leaked nudes and the football gossip and the Scottish question (wherein nobody English should hold too strong an opinion) along with affrontery that U2 would presume to invade our phones in a non-consensual blaze, elevated to hyperbolic musings and allusions of Piketty capital greatness. Being at peace with your own disgust and ability to tapdance past the line of pretentiousness and superficiality (and the homeless), to embrace the act until it’s more tangible, then shut everyone else out with headphones chanting Lorde’s noble chorus, her tears: it’s a new art form showing people how little we care. And these are probably perennial problems, which we don’t seem to acknowledge, like the very mute fear of terror attacks or the spikes of anguish each time you hear that a cyclist has been hit. Write about the suspicion that we’re pale imitation Americans holding fiercely onto the minor details of accent and snobbery that indicate we’re not American at all. About occasional excursions to Kent or a European Capital to see similar cities and experience the lives of similar people, breaking up weekends otherwise spent with hangovers after mediocre houseparties or generic pub gatherings, interspersed with the Clubbing Scene that is either unenjoyable or phenomenally expensive. About gentrification and housing developments with ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ entrances and swimming pools and helipads and Russians and French money on display and overt cultural uneasiness in the free public-transport papers making your commute that bit more terrifying. I could write about the impact of private school on my friend groups’ prospects and intersperse that with sex and class and religion and having-gone-to-Oxbridge and how that relates to the current Front Bench and a film about the Bullingdon and the general matrix of kyriarchy and it would be so, so tired.

But I’ll probably pick a few of those things and do them because if I don’t write something soon I’d have to think about getting a different career I don’t even theoretically not judge.

I’m not usually this grumpy. J x


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