Friday, 31 January 2014

31/01/14 - The North-South Divide

There’s a debate that’s destined to rage well beyond the point when the sun burns out and the hunched rodent-men that the human race has evolved into are forced to scurry for cover under the oversized palm fronds of the 40th century: which is better, south London or north London?

Spoiler alert: the answer is obvious. South London is better, by miles.

People who live on the wrong side of the river will fervently disagree with this, but they can safely be ignored; they’re not as sophisticated or evolved as us southern dandies, and their monosyllabic, malformed grunts and baffled demeanour are no match for our superior articulacy, clean clothes and complicated mobile telecommunications devices. Also, there’s a muscular body of water separating us, and they’ll never work out how to ford that without accidentally ingesting a gallon or two of treacherous effluent, so we can safely thumb our noses at them across the Thames without fear of attack. (To be honest, even if they do somehow work out how to traverse a bridge without shitting themselves messily to death in fear of troll attack, all you need to do is close a door between you and them; the doorknob will stymie them so comprehensively that they’ll scratch their scalps until they make it through the bone and into the pulpy, pink marshland beneath.)

Why is it so much better down below the river? Well, for a start, south London’s got Wandsworth in it. Forget Westminster: Wandsworth is the heart of London, which effectively makes it the most important place in England.
The core of Wandsworth is the Platinum Waffle (known to estate agents as ‘the Tonsleys’), which is a magical middle/upper-class wonderland, protected by an invisible but effective forcefield to bounce the plebs around the edges. You are technically allowed to live in the Tonsleys if you don’t own a Volvo XC90, but you have to sign a waiver that says you will buy one at some point in the near future. The Alma serves as a gateway to the Tonsleys, giving Australians somewhere to watch sport and observe the wealthy pass by, resplendent in flip-flops, disposable income and carefree attitude.
But Wandsworth isn’t elitist. Oh, no. Poor people are allowed to live in the tower block next to Southside, the gangsta-monikered Jekyll-and-Hyde shopping centre with Poundland at one end and Waitrose at the other.
There’s a swanky riverfront (the Thames speed limit ends at Wandsworth Bridge, so you can observe some aquatic hooliganism as you sip your vodka Martini), a lush and verdant common, and the jewel in the crown: Old York Road. It’s so pretty and villagey that they’re always filming cutaways from property programmes outside the various bistros. It’s like being in Barnes, but with fewer ducks.

South London also offers you quick and easy access to all the best counties. Where can you get to from north of the river? Hertfordshire? Buckinghamshire? That’s shit. From the south you can slip into Kent, the Garden of England, with ease – this pisses the north London folk off no end; they’ve heard of this mythical land called Whitstable, but have absolutely no idea how to get there. You can glide seamlessly into Surrey – perfect if you’re into big houses and Range Rovers – and carry right on over to Hampshire, which is like driving through a Wodehouse novel. Fancy taking a cruise into Essex (the cunningest county of all, which has kept its gorgeous countryside and rolling coastline a lovely little secret by creating The Only Way Is Essex, thereby ensuring that nobody wants to go there)? Make a beeline for Kent, then spear off at the last minute and rumble through the Dartford Tunnel. As tunnels go, it’s pretty bloody good – thunderous acoustics if you’re driving something meaty, and lots of Hollywood-esque fans on the ceiling. Awesome.

The south of most places is generally superior to the north, and that’s a solid gold fact. Look at North Korea. It’s rubbish. South Korea is a sensible place with proper businesses and a decent moral code and stuff, while north of the border is just like being jabbed in the sphincter with a rolled-up spike of the past. Crying. In a dustbin. With Kim Jong-un slapping your face with his despotic genitals.
The south of France is way better than the north too. It’s hotter, has a broader selection of cured meats, the wines are more robust, and they have a Spanish twang to their accents which makes a mockery of that Parisian French you learned at school.
And why do you think Wellington is on the very southernmost point of New Zealand’s North Island? So that it can gaze in wonder at the beauty of the vastly superior South Island.

The easiest argument for south London being better than north London is that, well, it just obviously is. Look at that Run London thing Nike did in 2006, where they pitted the humans from the south against the subhuman baggage from the north; they were just stirring up trouble – the northerners were running from the police, and the southerners were running from the northerners. It’s a metaphor for England as a whole.

OK, there is some good stuff north of the river. You’ve got the verdant expanses of various lovely parks. There are impressive museums and theatres. Pretty much everything between Holland Road and Bishopsgate - flanked by the A40/A501 above and the river below - is worth wandering around, actually. But down south we’ve got the South Bank, Clapham Common, Dulwich, Crystal Palace, some sort of tennis competition in SW19, the enormous Chicken Cottage on Upper Tooting Road, the official centre of all time itself at Greenwich (your wristwatches would make no sense without us), a pretty big IKEA, Clapham Junction (you can get anywhere in the world from there), Chessington World of Adventures, the London Heliport (which is miles better than Heathrow), the Tate Modern, that bus depot where they filmed a bit of The Apprentice, the Ritzy cinema, that recycling plant where they filmed a bit of The Apprentice, Barnes Common, Vinopolis and, er, my flat. So there.
Famous south London residents include Adam & Joe, Gok Wan, Rio Ferdinand’s aunt, Judith Chalmers, Gordon Ramsay, Skin from Skunk Anansie, Mel & Sue, Jimmy White, Charlie Chaplin, Jamie T, King Henry VIII, Dizzee Rascal, Ronnie Corbett, Ben Elton, Jeff Beck, H.G. Wells, Athlete (the band), Jerry Springer, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Saracen from Gladiators, Joanna Lumley, Bloc Party, Martin Clunes, Spike Milligan and Bradley from S Club Seven. Who have you got up north? Jack the Ripper? Jog on...

Also, north London is where all the crime is. That’s what I heard.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent write up about North South Devine. I love to read your article very much. Please keep sharing with us !!