London’s a bit sh*t when it wants to be

Last week I was mugged. I was staying at the flat of my colleague, Rupert – anyone from up north will inevitably associate his name with annoying posh gits, which he is – after a night out. Due to an infusion of alcohol we missed our stop on the bus and we decided to walk home, not realising we were about ten miles from his flat. Seventeen hours of walking is perfectly logical when you are drunk.

We ended up in a place called Waltham Forest – where Home Secretary John Reid was heckled recently by Muslim extremists – and were jumped by a gang of around 10 youths.

Surprisingly they were really crap muggers and took only my wallet and not my phone and Rupert’s phone and not his wallet. We joked that as muggings go it was fairly pleasant – we weren’t particularly hurt, no knife was drawn on us, and Rupert’s phone was a work phone and my wallet was empty after buying a couple of rounds at a club in London (those that say London is stupidly expensive are understating it – it is officially the second most expensive city in Europe, after Moscow).

It was probably our fault for being so stupid. I just pity the muggers.

However bad being mugged sounds, my life is fairly comfortable and I will never be in the situation where I will feel the need to mug anyone. I can cancel my cards and get on with my life – my muggers have little in life to look forward to, except maybe an eventual prison sentence, unless they change their ways.

Mugged twice in one evening – by a London club’s pricing policy and then by Waltham Forest’s finest! It’s never happened to me or any of my friends in Bradford because we know the area and how to get home from wherever we are, but perspective is needed – it could happen anywhere in the world.

London’s a lonely place when you start being negative. It’s worse when you can’t speak to family about it because you don’t want to worry anyone. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of home. I’ve missed so much in the short time I’ve been here and recently missed my niece’s first day at ‘proper’ school, my other niece’s first steps and my nephew’s first sign of being cheeky. As long as I’m down here I’ll always be that crap uncle who turns up every so often to give them birthday money.

I know what everyone’s reaction will be if I told them about my experiences. Every time I go home for a weekend it’s a sign of weakness to them: why aren’t you in London? (You hate it don’t you?) Why are you home? (You’ve been sacked haven’t you?) How come you come home so often? (Work is too hard isn’t it?) I don’t know whether this is exclusive to Asian families but I think if I did go home, mum and dad would have a lot of aunties gloating who still think that I’m a failure because I’ve had to move to London to find a job – you cannot win!

I won’t be leaving ‘Town’, though, the job’s too good. I’m learning a lot and I’ve never worked in a job that places such emphasis on a structured support system. This may seem biased, and obviously I would never be over-negative in a public space about working here, but nor would I praise the company if it wasn’t true. The whole point of me coming down here is to learn – learn as much as I can as quickly as I can regardless of how much I am enjoying it. It’s just a bonus that I’m enjoying work and get on with colleagues, many of whom I have as much of a laugh with as the mates that I grew up with back home.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I miss home so much either. I’m the youngest in my family, and this is the furthest away from home I’ve lived, I’d prefer to miss home than not because whatever happens Bradford will always be my home and I’ll be back there someday.

One thing I always do to make me appreciate living in London is to look up when I am walking around central. I looked up a lot this week.


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