Being a Londoner surrounded by Arsenal fans for the past five years, last weekend's visit was of particular relevance to me. Their fans were reasonably gracious in victory, and I've spent far too many years watching Albion's failure to qualify for even the fourth round of the FA Cup to be truly disappointed. A few of my Sunday league football side (based at Hackney Marshes) were in the away end at Falmer, and joined the North Stand Atrium Social Club (NSASC) post-match for a bevvy. They kept telling me their team is good, despite the contrary (certainly defensive) evidence. It got me to thinking that London-born Londoners have this complex almost across the board - they believe it is full of goodness when, in reality, it is a little bit grim.
I'm not saying that Brighton is particularly any better, but the capital of the UK tends to be a bit shi’ite. One thing going against London is the fact it's still in England. The weather is still shockingly bad. The commute is a nightmare from almost anywhere - there are people everywhere. The streets are lined with not gold but, quite simply, a layer of dirt. I mean, Croydon thinks it's in London, and we all know how terrible life can be there. Plus, born and bred Londoners are riddled with self-contentedness, which tends to irk those of us who aren't exactly (to put in in footballing terms circa 1991 Play Off Final, Mr John Byrne) over the moon with our own lives. Perhaps the (slightly) higher wages are supposed to make up for it? But I’m convinced that living costs probably ruin that.
Apart from Crystal Palace, the thing that annoys me most is an attitude that - despite the evidence listed above - London is the best, and the rest of the UK needs it. It's a very similar attitude that Arsenal fans have: they simply can't accept that another team could be better than theirs. For the record, London needs those educated workers from the regions, more than those from the regions need an ego-inflated dirty old town. London waits for the regions to spend all their hard-earned finance on educating people, and then the capital (on the proviso of higher wages) creams off workers willing to work (incidentally illegal) extra hours because of the bright lights. Of course, the criticism of London offering higher wages doesn't exactly work in the case of Arsenal.
London's (unnecessary) regional tier of Governance, the London Assembly, are convinced that London should be given more and more money from central Government, mainly on the basis that the capital is 'driving the UK economy'. This is a bizarre claim when you think that the capital already gets many more advantages than the rest of the UK. But that’s beside the point, the country's finances are already hideously skewed in London's favour. Indeed, evidence published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North undertaken a year or so ago claims that transport spending per head is £2,700 in London yet only £5 per head in the north east.
OK I admit it, the north east isn't where I want to spend the rest of my life. But the point is Londoners are so far up their own backsides, they don’t realise how rubbish they are. A bit like Arsenal fans.
Of course, my favourite city in the world is General Roca near Patagonia in Argentina.