In the words of Britain’s esteemed author Samuel Johnson, ‘No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’
June is the month when the sun shines, the roses are in full bloom and the gardens and parks are heady with scent.
The strawberries are at their sweetest, the clotted cream the richest and the ginger ale-lemonade-cucumber-orange-mint and Pimm’s No. 1 Cup concoction tastes the most delicious.
Wimbledon dominates the tele, the Changing of the Guard livens up Buckingham Palace and the Mall is crowded with excited onlookers. The milliners have their day at Ascot and Harrods has its world famous sale.
Most of all, Londoners in June have a spring in their step because the weather is better and the holidays are fast approaching.
A true Londoner is obsessed with the weather and the weather as a topic for discussion is unavoidable. When a beautiful sunny and cloudless day arrives (remember, this is not that often) a Londoner will appreciate the warmth on his back more than most.
On a miserable, grey and rainy day he will probably complain considerably more than most.
For the Londoner, the ‘grey’ and the ‘drizzle’ has come to represent all that is wrong with the city.
Paris enjoys a very similar climate to London yet weather never seems to predominate the Parisians thoughts.
Mention London and ‘dismal weather’ is the first thing to mind. Mention Paris and ‘glorious, magnificent and romantic’ are the associations first up.
I don’t mind the English weather, probably because I have basked in many sunny days; perversely, I find the rainy, dull days rather comforting.
One thing is for sure…I can now talk ‘weather’ with the best of them, especially the London taxi drivers.
The best barometer of what’s happening in London is not the magazine, Time Out, or the Lonely Planet guide but the cabbie.
The London taxi driver knows his city like no other taxi driver in the world and more often than not, the London cabbie enjoys a chat.
I have learnt more about the city from these guys (they generally are male drivers) than from anyone else. They know their way around.
On average it takes the drivers four years to gain their licenses and in order to qualify they must be familiar with every major road, cobbled street and narrow lane in the greater London area.
Not easy, this is one mighty big metropolis.
Taxis are bountiful in London and hailing a taxi is easy. All it takes is a wave of the right hand in the direction of the approaching cab and the driver’s inbuilt ‘fare’ radar hones in.
More often than not when the front window slides down you will be greeted with the words, ‘Where to Guv’?
When I hear those words I know I am in for an entertaining journey.
I sit back, I encourage the talk, I keep the questions rolling and I try to learn about the ‘real’ London… xv