When I came to London 20 years ago, the city was breathtaking and very hard, if not impossible, to leave behind; not only for me but for many other people I came across. London was inclusive, diverse and somehow was able to seduce us all into thinking that life outside of this magnificent wasn’t worth living.
Within that 20 years, London has changed so much that I don’t even know where to begin.
Every time I look at the city from the top of the Royal Observatory hill in Greenwich I feel consuming sadness. The new and flashy buildings are slowly making the inner London disappear. What I see is just ugly skyscrapers, which to me look more or less the same. They differ slightly in shape or name but looking across the river I cannot see the beauty I used to be able to see.
The urban changes are just the top of the iceberg, though. The high streets around the city all look alike with the same coffee shops, restaurants and shops. The indie coffee shops are priced out of areas one after another, even independent places that look busy close down after few years.
The car pollution is vast and unstoppable at this moment in time, and I bet it causes more damage then we all currently realise. The local councils are doing a fantastic job at pushing whole communities out of London to accommodate developers with their flashy, new, unaffordable buildings, office spaces and apartments overlooking the river.
On top of all the changes, the Brexit is looming larger and larger over the capital. Of course, in a way, London will be the last to feel and experience the effects of Brexit fully but the sheer idea that Brexit is going to happen, is already slowly changing everything and the flow of diverse talent that used to feel welcome here will dry out. The greatness is always built on the shoulders of the people who see what so many others don’t or can’t see. It is my belief that the people coming together with ideas, having the freedom to express who they are and what they want is what is the essence of any city. When that stops or is no longer acceptable, is when the greatness dies out or moves on to another place.
All the “modern” changes London has been implementing for years are making it lose its soul, one that grabbed hold of me all those years ago. Now with the diversity on the way out, talent and opportunities leaving this majestic city. As a European who believes in the European values and the EU, and sees diversity as an incentive towards growth and becoming a better, more accepting person, I’m slowly but surely falling out of love with a place that was home to me longer than the country I was born in. With every passing day, I feel we are both growing apart, possibly tired of one another, just like the marriage before the divorce papers are served.
I know that in real life everything has to come to an end sooner or later. There were times when Rome was the best city and country in the world but they too had to pass the baton to another city, another nation. I feel and think it is time for London to do the same.
Do you live in London? What is your take on the changes the city goes through?