I know it’s been a long time since I’ve properly lived in London – and even longer still since I’ve actually worked in central London – but I still consider myself a Londoner. I think being born there and having spent my formative years there qualifies me for that tag.
Equally, people who live in London now, despite having been born elsewhere, maybe even in a different country, could still as validly call themselves Londoners.
That’s what I love about London. For me, it really is a proper melting pot and you’re a Londoner if you live there or come from there. London’s as much about its present and future as it is about its history. It may boil the blood of the Daily Mail but London is multiculturalism working. It may not work perfectly but it’s pretty bloody good.
While I was going through my old CVs and LinkedIn profile to find content to add to my online CV – now up at kennethyau.net – I was reminded of a book I co-authored in 2006 with a few Londonist colleagues, The London Collection. Amazingly, it’s still available on Amazon (that’s where the link will take you – if I were more organised I’d put an affiliate link on there but it’s just a normal non-kickbacky link).
It’s a lovely little book with interesting titbits about London. It’s not meant to be a guidebook. My part was really minimal compared to everyone else (I was drafted in very late to help finish the book) but I’m still proud of being a published author and for having my name next to people I respect very much. One day, if there’s a Londonist reunion, I might remember to take a copy of The London Collection and get it signed by my co-authors. I’m not sure I could point out with 100% certainty all the bits that I wrote but I know for sure that the extract below is mine because I had a bit of an obsession about the subject at the time. (Note the musical reference in the headline again!)
Up The Missing Junctions
Visitors to London lucky enough to fly to gentlemanly Gatwick Airport but stupid enough to decide to journey into town by road will find themselves travelling in on the M23. Joining the motorway at Junction 9, they’ll soon wonder why, merely two junctions later, they’re forced off and dumped onto the motorway’s A road namesake. Slowly and painfully wending their way through the less-than-picturesque London Borough of Croydon, weary travellers will have plenty of time to ponder the stupidity of a motorway that terminates at Junction 7 and wonder what happened to junctions 1 to 6.
Abandoned in 1979, the M23 was originally intended to stretch all the way into Streatham, a good 11 or so miles further into London. The plan was to join the M23 to the South Circular, as a solution to the rising levels of London traffic. Scuppered by nimbyism and escalating cost estimates, perhaps Londoners should be thankful that it never came to fruition, given the reputation of the M25 as Britain’s largest car park.