Chicago has bald eagles nesting in its parls. Rio has the golden sands of Ipanema. Paris has the monument that inspired a million proposals. But do they have anything to match our manky pigeons and gelatinous eels (above)? Rob Orchard doubts it, and counters with a full measure of London pride.
You’ve got Red Square…
…we’ve got Leicester Square
Okay, Moscow, we get it: your city’s premier quadrangle will take our breath away with its imposing size and that cathedral with the twirly ice cream towers and, yes, it houses Lenin’s 88-yearold corpse. But does Red Square offer the Leicester Square area’s ample selection of lukewarm, three day-old pizza and buffets? Its vast multi-level store devoted entirely to M&M-based merchandise? It’s all very well embodying the spirit and stoicism of the Russian nation, but if you can’t sell me a £109.95 figurine of an anthropomorphised chocolate button playing bass guitar, then I’m out.
You’ve got Ski Dubai…
…we’ve got the London Dungeon
Building a snow-covered indoor mountain in the desert is a true feat, both of engineering chutzpah and ecological irresponsibility. But which will bring tourists more joy: slaloming down the black run, or being chased around a darkened room by a man dressed as a plague victim? You tell us, Dubai. You tell us.
You’ve got bald eagles…
…we’ve got pigeons and bemused parakeets
So bald eagles have started nesting in your metropolitan area, eh? Big deal, Chicago. Head to Kensington Gardens and you’ll find London’s very own exotic birds – a clutch of highly disoriented parakeets. Still not impressed? Visit Trafalgar Square: we’ve got thousands – yeah, you heard right: thousands – of hungry pigeons, many of them amputees.
You’ve got the Presidential Guard…
…we’ve got Beefeaters
You may think your soldiers look silly, Athens, with their pompom-topped shoes, their tassely caps and their slow-motion goose-stepping. And you’d be right – they do. But check out our Yeomen Warders. They’re supposed to protect the Crown Jewels armed only with pointy sticks, while wearing stockings, ruffs, ribbons and what can best be described as felt saucepans on their heads. Now that’s properly silly.
You’ve got Mounties…
…we’ve got chuggers
In need of directions in Canada? Ask a Mountie! They will be delighted to help and engage you in friendly banter. In need of directions in London, England? Ask a chugger! They will be even more delighted to help, and engage you in yet friendlier banter, quite possibly about your feelings concerning the fate of the snow leopard. You may, however, have to sign a direct debit form before they allow you to continue your journey.
You’ve got the Eiffel Tower…
…we’ve got the BT Tower
Sleek lines, exquisite engineering and a playful, graceful aesthetic combine to provide an enduring – and inspiring – symbol of a nation’s pride and cultural heritage. But that’s enough about the BT Tower. What of Gustave Eiffel’s puddled-iron phallus? It’s certainly pretty enough but – unlike its antenna-clad cousin in London – it has never been turned into the world’s biggest lightsaber. Must try harder, Paris.
You’ve got free citywide wifi…
…we’ve got pornographic phone boxes
Yes, it’s wonderfully convenient to be able to get online at any time, wherever you are, Auckland. We’re all terribly impressed with your free citywide wifi. But what if I don’t want to communicate through the internet? What if I prefer to connect with my friends using a pricey, urine-steeped, anachronistic phone booth papered with explicit adverts for implausibly glamorous prostitutes? What then?
You’ve got Ipanema…
…we’ve got Bankside beach
We’ve all heard you boasting about your endless strip of golden sand, fringed by turquoise waters and populated by mahogany-tanned gods and goddesses, Rio. But some of us aren’t quite so showy. Some of us actually prefer a short stretch of grey grit, fringed by murky, freezing water and populated by dead birds and suggestive graffiti.
You’ve got cheaper accommodation…
…we’ve got exclusive accommodation
Large, well-built, detached houses in the city centre for under £400k? Whatevs, Los Angeles. Here in London, we’ve gentrified our central zones so successfully that modest family homes are unaffordable to almost everyone. Unless you’re a titan of finance or a senior member of the Royal Family, you’d better start Zoopla-ing bungalows in Milton Keynes, playa.
You’ve got chicken skewers…
…we’ve got jellied eels
What’s that you’re sizzling up there on your crowded streets, Bangkok? Tender, fragrantly spiced chicken skewers, fresh from the charcoal grill? Served with delicate peanut sauce and a twist of lemongrass? Pah! Check out our indigenous street food: jellied eels. That’s right: eels. Cold ones. Covered in jelly. With the bones left in. Eaten standing up. You want sauce? Here’s some vinegar. Bon appétit.