I lived most of my life in London. It is a horribly chaotic place and the noise has got worse. Of course, if you have the money you can live in one of many leafy suburbs. Even in central London, money gets you somewhere relatively peaceful. Nothing except a major volcanic eruption can stop the insane level of air travel in and out of London. When Grímsvötn erupted, Londoners emerged from their homes and roamed the parks and green spaces with wonder, troglodytes suddenly witness to the sounds of nature. Four halcyon days before the planes started again. Anyone who lives in London knows that moment in the early morning when the planes begin to land. It is like the advent of bombing as the noise gets louder and louder.
Those green spaces in London are crucial. Quite recently I walked in a petrochemical haze by Embankment, feeling appalled that all the efforts to reduce pollution had come to nothing. But most Londoners will be insulated from pollution because they are in the cars making it, so never aware of it. I used to go regularly to Battersea Park. There is a vegetable garden there run by the charity Thrive. It is a wonderful place to sit when it’s quiet.
Like every important city or large town in Europe, London is stuffed full with the relics and opulence of its colonial past. No one with the faintest awareness of the atrocities committed by Britain abroad can look at its buildings without shuddering.
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