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Is London getting on top of you, or are you on top of London?

Posted at 10:00 am, December 19, 2012 in Fun London
© Neal Fox

Rich? Healthy? Contented? Or are you skint, scared and exhausted? Living in London can be as gainful as it is occasionally painful. David Clack looks at some downsides and the upsides of what the capital is doing to your mind, body and soul.

Is London getting on top of you…

You’ve got no money
The average London salary is £33,760 – and most Londoners earn less than Mr Average. Average London rents are a whopping £1,240 a month. After tax and all those other expensive luxuries like electricity and bus rides that’s a daily budget of £16. Or, around the price of a craft beer and a burger from a pop-up.

You’re cruising for a bruising
This city’s violent crime statistics are the worst in the country. During an average month in the West End, according to the Met, you’ve got a 0.7 percent chance of being mugged, a 2 percent chance of being assaulted and a 4.5 percent chance of encountering antisocial behaviour (they obviously don’t hang out in Soho on a Friday night much).

You’re mentally fragile…

Although Londoners are less prone to depression than the rest of the UK, we’re struggling with more serious mental issues. In Hackney, the rate of hospital admissions for schizophrenia and delusional disorders is almost five times the national average, with Kensington and Chelsea not far behind. And you thought hipsters and Sloanes had nothing in common.

…and you’re working too hard
In what can only be described as ‘not a coincidence’, Londoners also work longer hours than the rest of the UK, with a quarter of a million of us clocking up 60-hour weeks. Cheers, boss!

Your heart can’t handle it

Although you’re less likely to die of cancer than your country cousins, that’s only because your major organs will probably pack up long before you get the chance: London’s rate of premature death from heart disease and stroke (75.3 per 100,000) is well above the national average. Maybe swap that round of sliders for a salad next time, eh?

Your lungs are doomed
This city’s air quality is worse than a ‘Mad Men’ board room. Out of 17 European capitals measured for air quality, London ranks twelfth. Annually, around 4,300 Londoners die an avaerage of 11 years early, thanks to air pollution.

Your bits are on fire
We spend a third more than the national average in sex shops, but it seems we’ve forgotten the protective basics. The capital is worse than anywhere else in the UK for chlamydia and HIV, while only Manchester has more gonorrhoea. Think about that the next time a hot stranger returns your smile across a packed tube carriage.

…or are you on top of London?

You’re book smart…
It takes a sharp brain to cope with 5,000 advertising messages every day. Not only are you tooled up to self-educate at the city’s wealth of free museums, galleries and libraries, 40 percent of Londoners are already educated to degree level (compared to a national average of 30 percent).

…and tube smart
One benefit of delays on the Underground is that they instil us with a heightened ability to think adaptively. Caledonian Road to London Bridge without using the Northern Line? Not a problem for most, even if your solution is to fork out £30 for a taxi and huff about it for the rest of the week.

You’re well fit
With 17,000 acres of public parks, more gyms than ever and the 2012 ‘inspire a generation’ effect, the future of the city’s waistline looks good. We’re pushing for the burn on the dancefloor, too: London’s clubbers are developing a taste for ‘footwork’ – a strain of Chicago dance music characterised by tempos of up to 140bpm (compared to the standard 126bpm).

You’re the country’s culture kings
Half of all the UK’s theatre admissions (plus a quarter of cinema admissions) happen in London, with box offices taking £528 million from 18,615 performances in 2011. It’s hardly surprising that we’re obsessed with performance – the average Londoner is captured on CCTV 15 times a day.

Your diet’s pretty good
Contrary to the efforts of street food vans (which now outnumber cars by three to one), Londoners consume the least calories in the country (an average 2,191 per day). We also buy more fruit and veg than anywhere in the UK and, if you fight your way through the fumes, you can pick up a bunch of bananas, a lemongrass smoothie and a punnet of rambutans on just about any high street in town.

Your immune system rocks
During the summer, the city’s population topped the eight million mark. As a result, it’s become a soup of unfamiliar germs which, although technically disgusting, is great when it comes to building defences against common illnesses. Weren’t in town for the Games? Get the same boost by going down to Leicester Square and snogging anyone peering at a map.

You’re getting laid loads (or so you say)
Though our relationships tend to be briefer, Londoners have more sex than the rest of the country, with a sixth of us claiming to have slept with more than 20 people. You’re getting regular action, too – three times a week, on average. Hardly surprising, since half of you also think it’s fine to go all the way on a first date.

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