“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.” Simon Van Booy
My ex-husband was always desperately trying to get me to move to the countryside, which, tellingly, indicates that he really didn’t know me at all. I am most definitely a city girl. In fact, the only positive thing about moving to the country with him would have been the vast open spaces, miles from civilisation in which I could have inconspicuously buried his body. Anyway, I digress.
I like being surrounded by hustle and bustle and colour and sounds and things going on. I like seeing my neighbours to say hello to in the morning. I don’t want to have to walk for ten minutes to ask Mr Number 14 to lend me a corkscrew or a hammer (two things I have genuinely borrowed from neighbours in the past). I’m actually more alarmed about the time that I didn’t have a corkscrew in the house then the day that I needed a hammer.
I like having things to hand. If I’m facing some sort of vodka or cake related emergency (likely to be ‘lack thereof’) in the early hours of the morning, it’s reassuring to know that Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local or that scary looking shop covered in Polish writing which offers to ‘unlock your phone’, ‘fix your laptop’ and ‘clone your credit card’* will come to the rescue.
*I don’t think they actively advertise this third service
Another good thing about living in a city is that things generally work. I don’t have to go to the next village and stand half way up a tree in order to get mobile phone reception and I can’t remember the last time there was a power cut. That’s quite a relief because I do not want to spend an evening playing monopoly by candlelight, trying not to set fire to Old Kent Road, the banker’s stash of money or the cat’s tail, whiskers or any other part of her furry, and therefore highly flammable, body that she’s likely to attempt to rub against the candle whist I desperately try to demolish three tubs of Ben and Jerrys before the freezer defrosts.
I love the 24 hour a day-ness of a city. I once had to travel to Selby in North Yorkshire for work. I arrived at Selby train station at about 2.30pm and started looking around for a taxi rank. I found a little taxi office and asked the lady behind the counter if I could get a cab. “Sorry love, about five” she said to me kindly. I thought, ‘Ooh, what they say about people from the North really is right, they are so much more polite than those from the South. She’s apologising for a taxi even though it’s only going to be five minutes.’ and I said “Oh five minutes is fine, thanks”. She gave me a pitying ‘she’s not from round here’ look and said “No love, about five o’clock”. Apparently there isn’t much call for taxis in Selby on a Monday afternoon.
Now, what I have failed to mention is the fact that the city in which I live is Brighton. Well technically, it’s Brighton and Hove, but I am old school and consider these to be two different places. Brighton being the sexier but sluttier, older and wiser sister of Hove. Hove is more of a librarian. A librarian in stockings and suspenders, but a librarian nevertheless.
This means that although I’ve described myself as a city girl, I do live in a city with rather luxurious amenities: the sea and beach on one side and the downs (pretty much countryside; there’s rabbits and buttercups and all that shit) on the other so I’m hardly living in a concrete jungle having never laid eyes on a horse.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-countryside. I appreciate the peace, the fresh air, the beautiful surroundings and the quiet. I love being able to look at the stars rather than a Shell garage sign or a railway line, but personally I just prefer being in my city, the one that feels like home.