Just over a week ago it felt as though London, despite its vastness and complexity, was an overgrown village. OK, so I was buoyed up by a night at the Paralympics Closing Ceremony, where everyone in the park was smiling and chatting to each other, and the people on duty couldn't do enough for visitors who were so obviously thrilled to be there. I had rose-tinted (and, after quite a few trips to the bar, rosé-tinted) glasses on, but the city genuinely felt new, better, different. And this from someone who loves London with the fervour of a provincial girl still thrilled to live somewhere you can buy biscuits at three in the morning and where buses run all night.
But urban living wasn't quite so thrilling when someone was attacked on the pavement outside my flat on Friday. According to the police who taped off the road, a man had been bottled. "Don't worry, he's not dead," said the officer who had covered up the worst of the blood stains with some dustbin lids. Other than the blood, there was no sign of the poor soul. I hope, whoever he is, he's making a swift recovery. I'm amazed we didn't hear anything, especially since it happened at seven o'clock – in the morning. I was waved under the tape to get to work while my upstairs neighbours watched the proceedings from their window like grey-haired hawks.
Obviously people are attacked in villages, too, but it did serve to remind me that the city is, as it always has been, big and bad as well as sprawling and splendid. There are certain things that are pretty much guaranteed to happen to you if you live in a city. I'd like to think that getting bottled isn't one of them, but the evidence on my doorstep doesn't preclude it. But if you live in London, you will get your handbag and/or wallet stolen, probably more than once. You will almost certainly get burgled (again, there's no upper limit on this. I've learned the hard way that if it happens once, and you want to be insured in the future, you're going to need to get an alarm. And read the small print of your home contents insurance with great care). If you have a car, budget for a broken window every 18 months and a kicked-off wing mirror to boot.
But despite the broken glass, I wouldn't swap it. It might not be the city it was during the winning weeks of the Games, but city life is, by and large, worth the hassle. I love living it. Of course, if there's someone else writing in this slot next week, you'll know that this view is hopelessly naive and that someone's come at me with a bottle. But until then, I'll keep the faith.Reuse content