Friday, September 9, 2011
I have lived in London for almost 15 years and I have loved (almost) every second. Despite three noisy kids, an incontinent dog, two warring hamsters, a sputtering literary career and the high cost of living I'd like to think my stress levels are low. I attribute much of this to the fact I can work from home (despite the noisy kids, incontinent dog, violent hamsters etc). Even when I worked in an office, and it feels like a long time ago now, my shift patterns were at odd times, so rarely did I have to commute to work in rush hour.
If I had to, I doubt I would have lasted in the city so long. The London rush hour is awful. On the tube you are crammed cheek to jowl with a bunch of sweating strangers who have all consumed four bulbs of garlic and nine pints of ale the night before. Go by bus and you're stuck in the long, grinding queues of traffic. Go by bike and you risk life and limb from angry bus and car drivers, plus you turn into that most objectionable of human sub-species: the cyclist. Smug, sanctimonious, breaking red lights because you believe you're above the law, entirely unaware of how bloody stupid you look in lycra. Go by taxi and you would be bankrupt in seconds. No, I think if I had to commute to and from work each day and evening in London I'd be in the ground by now.
But, it turns out, London isn't that bad. According to the IBM survey included above this post London is one of the best big cities to work in. My first thought was: no way! My second was: how bad must it be in Mexico City? Almost five times worse than London! I can only think the downtown traffic never moves. It's always there, and people sleep in the cars, head on their horns, for perpetuity, while taxi drivers of Istanbul craziness weave in and out cackling maniacally. Moscow sneaks in about halfway down the list. I once went to Moscow. It took four hours to get from the airport to the centre of town. It should have taken twenty minutes. Again, it lags in way behind Mexico City. Again I ask; just how hellish must it be in Mexico City? I'm almost intrigued enough to visit just to see how bad the traffic and public transport is. On the other hand, Beijing ranks quite high and in my time there the traffic didn't seem too bad.
I notice that Johannesburg sneaks in reasonably high up. Perhaps Michael might be able to tell us why? Is it because you might you get stuck in traffic, and while you're stuck in traffic you might get shot? Which is enough to ruin anyone's trip in to the office. But still, not as bad as Mexico City apparently.
I can't make it to Bouchercon this year, sadly, but I think someone should offer Mexico City to the organisers as a putative hosting city. Full of crime and sleaze, it sounds like the perfect backdrop to a writers' convention.
Dan - Friday
at 9:05 AM