One thing to know about me: I’m a city girl. From the age of 12 I was plonked onto a London tube and told to commute for an hour each way every day to get to school, a harsh and abrupt introduction to living in this city. London’s huge, and I’m tiny. In that sense my relationship to it is somewhat bittersweet. It’s too huge. I don’t think that anyone can really feel truly a part of it as a city, almost like if you were to disappear or leave, London wouldn’t really care. London has bigger things to worry about than you, so don’t expect people to smile at you on the tube or on the street (chances are if they did you’d think they were a psychopath). As such it’s always been hard to associate a sense of identity as a Londoner. I certainly don’t have a nightlife; the trains are ridiculous and so however much I would LOVE to stumble home at 3 in the morning, it’s simply not possible: my last train is at 12; I can walk home quite sober and coherent at about 1 if I’m lucky.
But it’s not all frustration and insignificance in the UK’s capital; it is the capital after all. I’ve seen some of the best theatre in the world and I’ve seen huge events play out in front of my eyes. Things happen in London, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I defy you to walk down the South Bank and not get a little bit pretentious and happy. In some ways I’m quite proud to call it my home. Though I don’t have much idea of what it means, I ‘m happy to call myself a Londoner…sometimes.
Then I moved to Glasgow, and I’ve been living there for two years now. London, and generally the south’s opinion of Glasgow isn’t the best to say the least. Films like “Trainspotting” and “Neds” haven’t really helped the city’s reputation (however many times I remind people that “Trainspotting” is ACTUALLY set in Edinburgh). I have a confession: I loved this city before I decided to study there. My mother is Scottish and so I’ve been raised around Scottish people, and Glasgow was one of the places we would visit, often to see the pantomime at the legendary King’s Theatre. Usually when people make the move to University it’s something entirely new and exciting, but I was really moving from home to another home. However much I have gone on about being a “Londoner,” I have to admit that I feel more at home in Glasgow.
It’s the second cultural capital of the UK, without a doubt. Things happen in Glasgow too, but they happen with a smile! I could go on about the wonderful theatre and music but I think it’s pretty obvious. The amount of artists and musicians and theatre practitioners that have come out of Glasgow speaks for itself: John Tiffany, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian, Primal Scream, James McAvoy (!) The south has got it so wrong.
London is huge, as is Glasgow, but Glasgow is beautifully manageable. Sometimes looking at a tube map in London makes you feel like you’re living in “Inception,” but the Glasgow subway system (affectionately named the “clockwork orange”) is a circle. Just a circle. You have a choice: go clockwise or anti-clockwise. I was living in paradise; Oh sweet simplicity!
I feel at home in this city and I have loved being a student here (thank God I’ve still got two more years). The move from London to Glasgow has been an adventure; both cities are huge and cultural and a centre of activity and I’ve had the advantage of experiencing life in both. The people in Glasgow are friendly and the character of the city is so rich you can’t help but feel a part of it. I have come here and I’m a student and a city girl again, but this time a Scottish city girl.