When I was at university, trying to chose a topic for my dissertation, my research supervisor urged me to pick a subject within which I saw a fundamental unanswered question. Pick something you personally do not understand, she said, something you cannot get your head around. Since that day, numerous other instances have arisen in which I have been unable to fathom why people take a particular view. For a long time I tried to work out why it was that people thought that living in London was so great, for example. Particularly when there were so many other cities in the world to chose from. Awesome cities like New York, just, you know, off the top of my head. And so, wandering the streets of Manhattan the other day I developed another research study...asking myself the ridiculous question: why on earth might someone claim that London was a better city than New York City? And the results are a little something like this...
Let's start with the people, the beating heart of every city. New Yorkers, you need to tone down the friendly. All that smiling, the eye-contact and the endless "have a nice day's". I mean, give it a rest with the perpetual niceties or I will start thinking you're being insincere. And just let me alone, please. If I am wandering down the road, minding my own business, the last thing I want is to be drawn into a conversation with a complete stranger. There is such a thing as being over-friendly you know; back home in London we'd call it 'harassment'. Londoners are much better respecters of personal space than New Yorkers. Rude and frosty? No, we just respect everyone's right to social isolation.
And what's with all the ridiculously beautiful people you have cluttering up your streets, NYC?! People in London have the well-mannered modesty to look plain and uninteresting, because heaven knows that perfectly tanned, toned hotties just make one feel self-conscious and fat. It's basically just showing off, NYC, and that is very unbecoming in a city.
Also, New York City, where are the jolly nicknames for your famous buildings, that show your city has a sense of humour? Seriously, how is anyone supposed to feel fondly about 'The Empire State Building', 'The Chrysler Building' or 'The Freedom Tower'? (A building which is actually even more uncharmingly called 'One World Trade Center' - I think you'll find that's an address not a name by the way.) How about some amusing monikers inspired by things you might find in the kitchen? 'The Gherkin'! Now that's a proper name for a multi-storied building. And - bonus - it even helps you work out which one it is amidst a crowded skyline, by actually looking like one. Inspired, right?!
And it's not just NYC's built environment that London beats hands down. Our green space totally whips New York's paltry vegetation. London has eight royal parks - ROYAL ones! - plus dozens more plebeian ones. Oh sure, you guys say you have lots green space but, honestly you seem to focus mostly on one massive park in the middle of everything. Central Park? More like 'Single Park'. Sorry, but we're claiming greener city points here.
On to taxis. Dear lord, New York's yellow taxis make one long for a black cab and a proper London cabbie. The London cabbie is a proud and ancient breed of Londoner - trained for many years on the mean grey streets of the city, tested to within an inch of his or her life and then finally let loose in London to nobly serve the populace, seeing everyone safely home like wheeled guardian angels. Where does New York City find the people driving its cabs? Have they even walked round New York before? They simply never know where they are going. And unlike the trusty London cabbie, they don't even have the decency to pretend they know where your destination is whilst asking a series of chummy, leading questions to get you to tell them without your even noticing they're doing so. Truly, how do New York taxi drivers have the cheek to charge for their knowledge of the New York grid if the fare has to play the role of navigator? One might as well sit in the front and drive oneself. I guess you get what you pay for, I mean, granted, New York cabs are cheaper than ours in London, but jeez...
Everything in New York City is open ridiculously late; supermarkets, bars, museums, coffee shops. It's like New Yorkers don't want to go home! Now, in London we don't like to overload our citizens with entertainment of an evening. We recognise they've probably had a hard day at the office, so we like to free them from the agony of choice about what to do after work, by simply closing everything so their only choice is to go home and watch television. London opening hours - relieving the guilt of just slobbing about at home. You're welcome, Londoners.
And what is that thing New York City does with its weather? 'Seasons' you call them? I mean, one month it's hot and sunny, another it's knee-deep snow drifts. What about a little consistency, hey NYC? Weather-wise, in London you know where you stand...under an umbrella, 12 months a year. And that makes getting dressed in the morning far easier than if you live in NYC. No need for such fripperies as summer wardrobes and winter coats. You just buy a pair of wellies and have done with it. See how much simpler London makes life for its citizens? Hmmm? Sounds a bit mundane? Never! London just knows what it likes and it likes what it knows.
Oh, and New York? One last thing. Please get over yourself about Citi-bikes; London had public hire bikes aaaages before you. Just saying.