Perhaps the biggest disadvantage with growing up in a surburban satellite such as the towns within the Zone 5/6 boundary is that while you feel comfort in being able to experience both urban thrills and rural bliss quicker than most, you can unfortunately end up knowing not as much about either as may be desired. Metroland et al = limbo. The people there don’t tend to grow up yearning to escape to the big city, because the big city is only 45 minutes away on the Tube anyway. Likewise there’s no craving for the idealised simplicity of country life, because once you’re into Zone 5 the woodland/office block ratio really starts to tip towards the former’s favour. Growing up with cattle-filled farmland AND multiple Tube routes within equal reach I always felt re-assured by having these ‘options’ – nurturing – if not a key influence in – my blatant general dilletantism in life.

Only, now I live in Zone 3, with an urge to get even closer to the centre, and I find myself constantly struggling when it comes to knowing and recommending places to go and things to do. It’s a complacency perhaps not recognised by the abundance of people I know who live in Zone 3 but originally hail from other places in the UK, more often than not THE NORTH. Because of course when people move to London after college or whatever, they’re not going to take it for granted, they’re going to want to live reasonably close to some ‘action’ and seek out the places to go and the things to do in them. This could mean anything from just knowing a little place on a side street that does great tapas, to having been to all the big clubs at least once out of curiosity AND convenience. Anglophiles from overseas who’ve settled in the centre only in the last few years or visit London several times a year can also have this edge over a suburbanite like myself, who bitches about the place all too often thinking they know it so well.

So lately, because I have been living in an area that was previously alien to me (Harringay), and working in an area that previously felt so hostile or just plain indifferent (Old Street/Hoxton), having got to know them a bit more in that time, I realise more and more how little I did and still do know – and I almost envy the people who did feel the compulsion to escape their hometowns to come here, to experience London fully and freshly as an adult. Then again, the wide-eyed fascination I felt for the city as a child what with being able to encounter it relatively easily still counts for an awful lot. Perhaps people growing up in the outskirts of NY’s outer boroughs, or the edge of any large thiriving city feel or have felt these things too. All of which makes me personally feel that there is a little catching up to do, and what better time than now?