Cross-looking old women in brown fur coats, hard grey skies, and Mercedes Sedans swinging around street-corners straight out of The Third Man: that is my lasting impression of Vienna, which this week was voted the world's most "liveable" city. The best thing about Vienna is the coffee shops, where cakes are artworks and a simple café latte is served on a tiny silver tray with much pleasant fuss. If lifestyle is measured solely by the sophistication of a citizen's regular afternoon snack, the morose Austrian city deserves its elevation.
Notoriously disappointing on the cake front, London lurked at a mere 38 in the same quality-of-life league table, which was compiled by an American management consultancy. The rankings, which, as always, favoured the duller, minor German and Swiss cities, were calculated by comparing crime rates, pollution, political stability, educational provision etc.
A separate strand of the survey scored cities specifically on infrastructure. It was here that our capital performed well (eighth out of 215), "reflecting the high level of public services", say the researchers, who commended London's transport system. I can't believe anyone who commutes on the District line would recognise that description; must be that famous American sense of humour.
Never run dry again
Feverishly checking the post this morning for the expected pig-flu-emergency-advice-panic-panic leaflet from the Government (it hasn't arrived yet), my eye alights on another, no less alarming, flyer that's been pushed through the letter box. It advertises the services of a company called "Drinks on Wheels". A scheme that Charles Bukowski could only dream of, it is "London's late-night booze delivery service", and with one phone call, bottles of whisky, vodka and gin can be dropped off at your home between the hours of 10pm and 6am– after all other off-licences have shut. Running out of booze is usually a sign that it's time to go to bed. No longer. Now that's what I call quality of life.
My vote goes to Marco
The Evening Standard ran a story this week revealing that Londoners want Alan Sugar to succeed Boris Johnson as Mayor. I know it's been a series lacking in thrills so far, but is nobody else in this city actually watching The Apprentice? Siralun makes a dud choice every week, either by preferring the splenetic (Raging Ben) or taking too long to fire the pointless (Noorul). Of the reality-telly tyrants, I would rather see Marco Pierre White take over City Hall. He's fair-minded and disciplined – and it's the only way we'll ever challenge Vienna in the cake stakes.