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NyxAustin
07-28-2012, 11:01 PM
I've visited London before, but mostly stayed in the outskirts.

For those that have spent any length of time in London, what was day to day life like? Basics, sights, smells, transport. Did it always feel crowded? What were the people like?

Particually interested in anyone who can give me any insight into the police system in London. Private detective work would also be useful.

I have one detective who I think I'm going to have as a detective constable in the CID who has transferred to a London district. Members of a private detective agency play a part, as does a woman who I am leaning toward having on benefits.

So any insights about anyone in those situations in London would be useful, or experiences of anyone who lived in London would be useful so I have more of a rounded view of the place.

crunchyblanket
07-28-2012, 11:18 PM
I've lived here all my life, and in several different areas. Fire away with the questions and I'll do my best to answer - the more specific you can be, the better an answer I can give :)

(I know there are several other London-based folk about who'd be happy to answer questions too)

Torgo
07-28-2012, 11:27 PM
I can't give you much of an insight into the police or shamus angles but as Crunchy says, fire away with the questions. It might be easier than just throwing out impressions of the place.

Parametric
07-28-2012, 11:32 PM
I lived in London for a year while studying. Some brief thoughts:

In central London there is a very high level of general grime. I would come back to my room in North London and find my fingertips were ingrained with dirt. I think the air must be full of soot particles - if you blow your nose, it's black. (Ick.)

Everything is cripplingly expensive. Rent? Forget it.

At peak times central London is so crowded that just walking down the street is an exercise in constant vigilance. You get bumped, pushed, jostled. You have to stay on your toes ready to take evasive action.

You get stopped by chuggers (very pushy people hired to collect for charity) every ten feet. Gangs of them from the same charity will work the same area, so it's not unusual to be stopped multiple times on the same street by people collecting for the same charity.

You pass all kinds of weird daily dramas that you never completely understand. For example, when I tried to show my cute German friend around, we nearly walked into a hostage situation on Tottenham Court Road.

Lots of planes overhead.

Rush hour on the Underground is apocalyptic. Absolutely apocalyptic. People are forcibly jamming themselves into carriages already bursting at the seams. You're teetering on the edge of a platform two feet from a lethally electrified rail with a train approaching at high speed and a million commuters trying to shove you off. Somebody goes under a train every week.

London is full of free newspapers that get picked up and put down like library books.

Just a few quick thoughts.

waylander
07-28-2012, 11:32 PM
I agree with Parametric - London is dirty

One of my neighbours is a Detective Sergeant in the Met. What do you want to know? Which area were you thinking of having them assigned to? There is considerable variation between areas.
Steve Collins, who is a AW regular, is a ex-Met copper.

On the positive side there is an incredible range of cuisines/restaurants to choose from and, outside of the centre, they can be pretty cheap.

Parametric
07-28-2012, 11:35 PM
One plus about living in London: the free museums! As a student, I used to sneak in at quiet times when everyone else was at work or school. I went to the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Imperial War Museum. All free and fun.

mirandashell
07-28-2012, 11:41 PM
I was visting London one day and was travelling on the Tube. A young French guy asked me a question and I answered him. We then got into a conversation. He told me that he'd been in London for a fortnight and I was the first person that had spoken to him......

Siri Kirpal
07-29-2012, 12:04 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Stayed there 2 weeks in 1997.

The food, to my surprise, was excellent. (The stories about how bad English food is are dated.) Easy to find vegetarian fare.

My experience is the reverse of what Mirandashell says: People were a lot friendlier than we'd been led to believe. One lady ran up to me and asked if I was a Sikh; when I said I was, she said, with obvious sincerity, "Well, you look very nice!" And one lonely gent chatted with us on the train to Brighton.

Those are tourist comments only, but they may help.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

mirandashell
07-29-2012, 12:07 AM
Maybe I better explain. I was talking specifically about the Tube. Londoners do not talk to each other when using the Underground. It is not done. Unless there is a major hold-up or something really annoying happens. Then they moan to each other. But otherwise, no.

Torgo
07-29-2012, 12:10 AM
Maybe I better explain. I was talking specifically about the Tube. Londoners do not talk to each other when using the Underground. It is not done. Unless there is a major hold-up or something really annoying happens. Then they moan to each other. But otherwise, no.

We will occasionally have a conversation on the bus, but this usually presupposes (a) both parties are drunk or (b) there's something to complain about.

mirandashell
07-29-2012, 12:11 AM
Siri, I'm a little confused. Why would a complete stranger run up to say you look very nice because you're a Sikh?

NyxAustin
07-29-2012, 12:22 AM
Thanks for all the replies so far, they really help me build up a picture of the place.

As for what area my detective constable would be assigned to, I'm not sure. It starts revolving around crimes on richer families in London, so based around one of those areas I'd think.

I've been told that there are basically rich areas and poor areas in London. That there are some areas you avoid because of crime, is that the right idea?

My mother who hasn't lived in London for twenty years said that the richer areas tended to be more in the inner city, then more around the outside you had working class areas. Is this the case or is it something different?

I'll list a few questions I've been thinking about and any you can answer would be useful. Though I'll likely think of more down the line. I really want to have a good idea of the setting.

Do most people work in the inner city and live elsewhere?

I assume because of traffic issues police would have a smaller area that they were assigned to than if they weren't in the city? How do they get around? Do they walk? Do they use cars? Bikes? Public transport?

Are there 'warehouse' districts about? Or many places with abandoned buildings?

What are the visual and location differences between the more upper class neighbourhoods and the lower class ones?

How hard is it to get a place that allows pets on a lower income?

What would you say is a usual commute in London?

What would be the estimated required annual wage for living in different types of areas?

If you were on benefits I imagine you would live on a council estate? What are those like to live in? To catch transport from?

Are there annual tickets or something like that to decrease costs of using the underground or other public transport?

What sort of mix of people do you meet travelling around London? Is there a mix of races? A significant number of people that speak little or no english? Any culture shock to do with that?

Are there many homeless people? If so, in what type of areas? What are they like to talk to?

Are ethnicities spread pretty evenly or are there pockets in different areas or in different classes?

Torgo
07-29-2012, 12:25 AM
Siri, I'm a little confused. Why would a complete stranger run up to say you look very nice because you're a Sikh?

Coincidentally I was on the train today behind a Sikh wearing a magnificent blue turban, and I did rather want to compliment him on it, though British reserve won out in the end. Sikhs are among the spiffiest of the devout.

mirandashell
07-29-2012, 12:27 AM
Have you tried Street View?

If you can look up Chelsea, Regents Park, Southall, Milwall and Tottenham.

I think that will give you a wide spread. But Crunchy and Torgo will correct me if I'm wrong.

Parametric
07-29-2012, 12:45 AM
Roughly, the rent is cheaper the further out you live, so a lot of people will live further out but commute into central London to work or study. I lived in North London but came in on the Tube for University College London.

You can get monthly and annual travelcards to decrease the cost of using public transport. You can charge up your Oyster card with a monthly travelcard and use it on basically all forms of public transport - the buses, the trains, the river ferry, etc. You can get discounted or free travel in some circumstances. Look up tfl.co.uk (Transport for London) for details.

London is very ethnically diverse. Lots of immigrants. I lived on Green Lanes, which has a big Turkish population. Lots of tourists as well. The Tube is full of confused tourists trying to figure out why the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road won't take them to King's Cross. (There are two different branches of the Northern Line.)

You see lots of police cars, police motorcyclists, police walking. Occasionally police on horseback.

Mr Flibble
07-29-2012, 12:46 AM
I don;t live in London, (in Sussex) but I used to travel up there loads, and still do occasionally. I shall answer what I think I can.




Do most people work in the inner city and live elsewhere?

I suspect so - I live in Sussex, like I said, and a fair few people around me work in London - it's an hour and a half to almost anywhere in London, basically, or anywhere near a tube station anyway. Surrey is your basic commuter belt (and parts of Essex etc). The rich people either have a flat in town and a place outside, or commute from outside. Middle income, would be the people who live around here (not as pricy as Surrey, still bloody pricey!), or who prefer a shorter commute who'll live in the nicer suburbs. Personally I have trouble telling the suburbs apart...


I assume because of traffic issues police would have a smaller area that they were assigned to than if they weren't in the city? How do they get around? Do they walk? Do they use cars? Bikes? Public transport? Cars, bicycles, motorbikes, walking depending on the sort of patrol.



How hard is it to get a place that allows pets on a lower income? I've never had trouble, anywhere, renting with pets. If pushed, the council don't disallow pets.


What would you say is a usual commute in London? See above.

If you were on benefits I imagine you would live on a council estate? What are those like to live in? To catch transport from?


Are there annual tickets or something like that to decrease costs of using the underground or other public transport?

Yeah you can get season tickets. From here to London is several thousand pounds a year by train.


What sort of mix of people do you meet travelling around London? Is there a mix of races? A significant number of people that speak little or no english? Any culture shock to do with that? HUGE mix. I've spent many a trip on teh tube where everyone else is speaking a different language. However, while they converse in their own language, most also speak English (in some cases better than I do!)


Are there many homeless people? If so, in what type of areas? What are they like to talk to? Yes, and all over. Like people who've fallen on hard times...A fair contingent have mental health problems (and quite a few are ex military from what I can tell)

Torgo
07-29-2012, 12:51 AM
I've been told that there are basically rich areas and poor areas in London. That there are some areas you avoid because of crime, is that the right idea?

My mother who hasn't lived in London for twenty years said that the richer areas tended to be more in the inner city, then more around the outside you had working class areas. Is this the case or is it something different?

Well, like any city, there are bad areas, but because London is a far older and less planned city than most, there are rich and poor areas dotted all over the place, often right next to each other. As a rule of thumb the farther out from the centre you are, the cheaper the rents are, but it's honestly so complex and varied it's hard to sum it up.


Do most people work in the inner city and live elsewhere?

Again, very mixed. A lot of people live outside London and commute, as rents are a lot cheaper; but then there's also a lot of social housing in the inner city (I am writing this from a council estate - a housing project - in NW1), so you may find the people commuting furthest are the richest. I'm somewhat melting my brain trying to come up with a useful or meaningful response, sorry. I think you need some kind of infographic or stat-set to get your head round it.


I assume because of traffic issues police would have a smaller area that they were assigned to than if they weren't in the city? How do they get around? Do they walk? Do they use cars? Bikes? Public transport?

Cops get around in cars, or they walk (the so-called 'Bobby on the beat' - now largely supplanted by cheaper 'community support officers', or 'plastic coppers', at least as far as this Londoner can tell.)


Are there 'warehouse' districts about? Or many places with abandoned buildings?

To an extent, though I think as with the housing it's a patchwork quilt. The couple of square miles east of me - through King's Cross - has for years been one big derelict industrial site, though that's being redeveloped.


What are the visual and location differences between the more upper class neighbourhoods and the lower class ones?

Have a wander about in Google Street View. Compare, say, Mayfair to Tower Hamlets.


How hard is it to get a place that allows pets on a lower income?

Not hard at all. Council flats allow pets. Rented flats might not, but I've rarely in practice ever known anyone be barred from owning a cat or dog.


What would you say is a usual commute in London?

A walk to the nearest Tube station, and anything from 30 to 90 minutes' travel. I currently get an overground train and then a bus, and it takes about an hour door to door.


What would be the estimated required annual wage for living in different types of areas?

Check rental agency websites.


If you were on benefits I imagine you would live on a council estate? What are those like to live in? To catch transport from?

Variable. Mine's quite pleasant but you have to keep an eye on the occasional crack house - we haven't had one for a few years but now I have my suspicions about No.24. Then again, the estate I can see from my window as I type, over in Agar Grove, has a bad reputation for gang activity. Public transport for me is as good if not better as it is for Jude Law in Primrose Hill, should he ever choose to use it - the patchwork aspect of the town means the rich are just as near a Tube station as the poor.


Are there annual tickets or something like that to decrease costs of using the underground or other public transport?

Yep. Check the Transport for London website. I have an annual travelcard, so I get unlimited use of buses, tubes and rail so long as I stay within Zone 3. They try to discourage single-trip tickets, so they're amazingly expensive by comparison.


What sort of mix of people do you meet travelling around London? Is there a mix of races? A significant number of people that speak little or no english? Any culture shock to do with that?

We're amazingly cosmopolitan, so yes, yes, and yes. You'll see people from everywhere on Earth. I live on an estate with a lot of Bengali and Somali folk, many of whom speak very little English (I am a sort of unofficial scribe to a few.) You won't go more than a stop on the bus without hearing some Russian or Polish or Arabic spoken.


Are there many homeless people? If so, in what type of areas? What are they like to talk to?

Yes, sadly. They're on every busy street. To talk to? They exhibit as much variety as the rest of humanity, except for the fact that they tend to be sorrowful, for obvious reasons. If you know any homeless people from where you live, you'll be able to write London's homeless, I think.


Are ethnicities spread pretty evenly or are there pockets in different areas or in different classes?

While any given bus will show you a broad mix of nationalities, there are plenty of enclaves. To pluck two examples off the top of my head, Southall has many Indians, and Stockwell many Portuguese.

mirandashell
07-29-2012, 01:28 AM
Also remember that London is a very old city and grew organically. So an area that 200 years ago would have been considered posh could now be much poorer. And vice versa. Google 'gentrification in London'.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=gentrification+in+london&rls=com.microsoft:en-gb:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7ADSA_en&redir_esc=&ei=K1kUUKLjJoH80QWt3IDQDg

Shakesbear
07-29-2012, 01:36 AM
I am a Londoner born and bred. When you talk about London and call it a city - which city? The City of London (which has its' own police force) the City of Westminster or London as a whole?

You might find this map showing the London Boroughs useful.
http://www.brent.gov.uk/home.nsf/pages/lbb-757

I'd agree with most of the answers given here - but it is terms like 'inner-city' that can be confusing. The City of London is the commercial part of London and is run mainly by the Corporation of London http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Pages/default.aspx sometimes referred to as the square mile. Most of the City of London's 1000 strong police force deal with fraud and other money related crimes. If there is a murder on their patch they usually ask the Met to deal with it. The Metropolitan Police Force look after the rest of London.

Oh, just to confuse you there are three mayors - the Lord Mayor of Westminster, The Lord Mayor of the City of London and Boris Johnson who is head of the "strategic government of Greater London". Each borough has a mayor. Collective name for a group of mayors is chain gang.

cornflake
07-29-2012, 01:55 AM
Just a note - I think a lot of the impressions and stuff depend on the origin of your characters.

For instance, I've not thought London crowded at all, or particularly dirty, though yes, a bit more sooty; presumably growing up in NYC inures one to finding a city crowded.

Same to do with the culture shock w/re various ethnicities and the homeless questions. if your character grew up in or around London or another large city, these things don't really appear on the radar. I don't know the perspective of one who didn't grow up that way, personally, but if that's what you're looking for - like, your character has only lived in a small town of X that is very homogeneous - I think you'll get more info with specificity.

As to the 'do people not live in London' thing - this is a thing particular to some 'cities' which have a central business core that is the 'city' itself and no one lives there, everyone lives in suburbs. Not the case in London, no. Fewer people live right in the financial district but it's not like what I think you're thinking. Though of course I could be wrong, heh.

zahra
07-29-2012, 02:02 AM
Thanks for all the replies so far, they really help me build up a picture of the place.

As for what area my detective constable would be assigned to, I'm not sure. It starts revolving around crimes on richer families in London, so based around one of those areas I'd think.

I've been told that there are basically rich areas and poor areas in London. That there are some areas you avoid because of crime, is that the right idea? Well, generally, yes, though because of the astronomical house prices, you will find middle-class families in less salubrious areas these days. I don't think you will find an area of London that's really 'no-go', as you would in NY, say.

My mother who hasn't lived in London for twenty years said that the richer areas tended to be more in the inner city, then more around the outside you had working class areas. Is this the case or is it something different? Yes, the richEST areas tend to be closer to the centre.

I'll list a few questions I've been thinking about and any you can answer would be useful. Though I'll likely think of more down the line. I really want to have a good idea of the setting.

Do most people work in the inner city and live elsewhere? Depends. People work all over and live all over, but it's true that the concentration of offices and shops tend to be higher in the City and West End, and not too many people can afford to live in those places.

I assume because of traffic issues police would have a smaller area that they were assigned to than if they weren't in the city? How do they get around? Do they walk? Do they use cars? Bikes? Public transport? Not sure about the area covered. They use cars and shanks's pony (foot) for patrol.

Are there 'warehouse' districts about? Or many places with abandoned buildings? Ha! I've just done some research at a 'warehouse area' in SE London, Bankside. There are abandoned buildings in many places in London, especially in the current financial climate. I noticed some recently in Brentford, West London, grimy old buildings boarded up.

What are the visual and location differences between the more upper class neighbourhoods and the lower class ones?
Well, the houses might be better-kept, though of comparable size. The high streets of poorer neighbourhoods tend to be dirtier - burger wrappers etc dropped on the pavement and people happily dumping old TVs and sofas on the side of the road. Posher 'hoods tend to have minty little shops like Jojo Maman Bebe, poorer ones will have shops like Costcutter.

Posh London areas - Knightsbridge, Hampstead, Chelsea, Holland Park, Chiswick, Fulham, Mayfair, Pimlico, Primrose Hill, some parts of Clapham, Barnes, Battersea, Richmond, Putney, some parts of Bermondsey. The poshest you're going to get is Knightbridge. Chelsea is posh but there is a lot of crime there, according to my friend who lives there. Go to John D Wood estate agents' website - they tend to do posh and the house prices'll give you some idea. Poorer areas, well, Acton, Croydon, Thornton Heath, Lewisham, West Ham, Plaistow, Finsbury Park, Manor House, Holloway.
How hard is it to get a place that allows pets on a lower income? Not sure. Probably not that difficult. I'm betting it's the posher landlords who object to animals most. Just a guess, though.

What would you say is a usual commute in London? I guess most workers can hope to do half an hour or more on the Tube. Took me 40 mins from Chiswick to my job in the City (near St Paul's).

What would be the estimated required annual wage for living in different types of areas? Oh, blimey. if I were you I'd do a search of average income per place - pick one from each list. Say, maybe Holland Park and Thornton Heath.

If you were on benefits I imagine you would live on a council estate? What are those like to live in? To catch transport from? No, loads of people are on benefits without being in a council home. Especially these days. Some council estates are pretty rough, some are OK. They tend to be near public transport, buses if nothing else. A lot are high rises, but not all of them are, and not all of them are in poor areas. We have a small council estate down my road in Chiswick. It seems pretty quiet, clean, never heard any trouble from it. Some are horrendous - lot of criminal activity and noise and unpleasant people, badly-behaved kids and scary dogs.

Are there annual tickets or something like that to decrease costs of using the underground or other public transport Not sure of the specifics of this, but yes. Go to tfl.gov.uk - the London Transport site. That'll give you answers.

What sort of mix of people do you meet travelling around London? Is there a mix of races? A significant number of people that speak little or no english? Any culture shock to do with that? Loads of different cultures, huge mix of races. Black, Asian, white, and they tend to mix a hell of a lot more than they seem to in the US. There's no problem with mixed-race relationships, though Asians tend to stick a little more with their own race. By Asians, we mean Indian, Pakistani etc, not Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc . Loads of Eastern Europeans. A lot of Turks, Arabs and Greeks have settled here. You'll find problems with English tend to be amongst the older people, except in the case of the Eastern Europeans. It tends to be younger ones who come here and some of them are not anywhere near fluent.

Are there many homeless people? If so, in what type of areas? What are they like to talk to? Yes, you'll find homeless people all over. Any area. Some of them sell a newspaper called 'The Big Issue'. As they are all different, it's not really easy to give one answer about how they are to talk to. Some are young and depressed, some alcoholic, some mentally ill and incoherent, some good conversationalists, some aggressive.

Are ethnicities spread pretty evenly or are there pockets in different areas or in different classes? Migration is always happening, even in one city. There are a lot of Turks in Finsbury Park and Shepherd's Bush, many Asians moving into Thornton Heath and doing up the houses pretty fine, loads of Asians in Southall, Caribbean-descendants in Brixton, a lot of Eastern Europeans in Hammersmith and Acton. But that's very general. You'll also find a lot of Eastern Europeans in Thornton Heath and Streatham, for instance. Golders Green is still pretty Jewish, I believe, though I haven't been there for years. Quite a few Russians in Chelsea. As for ethnicities across class, well, if we're talking about wealth, it still tends to belong to the whites. You will find non-caucasians with money in the richer areas, too, of course, as they will tend to move there! And like I said before, middle-class people of all ethnicities do live in poorer areas out of necessity. We'd be talking about class there, not wealth; if they had enough money, they'd be out of Catford and into Chelsea! But they are educated and have jobs.

Hope this helps somewhat.

Parametric
07-29-2012, 02:17 AM
For instance, I've not thought London crowded at all, or particularly dirty, though yes, a bit more sooty; presumably growing up in NYC inures one to finding a city crowded.

You're probably right. I grew up in a rural village of a few dozen people - there was only one street and we used it to play football on. So moving to London was a major shock to the system. :tongue

Siri Kirpal
07-29-2012, 02:22 AM
Coincidentally I was on the train today behind a Sikh wearing a magnificent blue turban, and I did rather want to compliment him on it, though British reserve won out in the end. Sikhs are among the spiffiest of the devout.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Mirandashell, I think this answers your question. And thanks for clarifying about the Tube.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

mirandashell
07-29-2012, 02:25 AM
Not really, mate but whatever. No one says you have to answer the question.

TudorRose
07-29-2012, 02:27 AM
My mother who hasn't lived in London for twenty years said that the richer areas tended to be more in the inner city, then more around the outside you had working class areas. Is this the case or is it something different?

It's not quite that straightforward. Hampstead, for example, is further out from the centre than Kentish Town, but "posher" and more expensive. This list might help you identify the cheaper areas to rent

http://www.londonpropertywatch.co.uk/average_rental_prices.html


Are there annual tickets or something like that to decrease costs of using the underground or other public transport? Compare cash fares, oyster cards and season tickets here

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14416.aspx


Are ethnicities spread pretty evenly or are there pockets in different areas or in different classes?In the last decade there has been a huge influx of Eastern Europeans in West London - a lot of Poles and Lithuanians from what I can gather. You can see this reflected in the little shops/groceries that cater to them and the languages you hear on the street. Not familiar enough with other areas to comment.

waylander
07-29-2012, 02:39 AM
Do most people work in the inner city and live elsewhere?

What would you say is a usual commute in London?


Tens of thousands of people commute in to central London for work. Either from outer London suburbs or areas outside. I live in a village outside London where many people take the train in to Waterloo - takes about 45 mins on the train, but you'd be lucky to get a seat - the trains are packed between 6.30 and 8.30 am with people going in. Some people do a 2/3 hour commute. It's a hell of a way to live; most people do it because of the London housing costs. The house I live in would cost x3 as much if it was in a half-decent London suburb like Chiswick or Wandsworth.

cornflake
07-29-2012, 02:39 AM
You're probably right. I grew up in a rural village of a few dozen people - there was only one street and we used it to play football on. So moving to London was a major shock to the system. :tongue

I'd imagine, as it'd be in reverse. I'd move to the village you grew up in and be weirded out by something you never even noticed I'm sure.

Hence I think the origin of the character is important. Some of the stuff you noticed - the free papers, the tube being crowded, weren't a blip for me, as it's just like home. Same as walking by some weird police thing or whatever. :Shrug:

Ooooh I didn't know we had Snoopy! Snoopy!! :snoopy: :snoopy::snoopy:

Becca C.
07-29-2012, 06:33 AM
Just popping in to say this thread is fascinating. I'm going to London in a little less than two months :D to research books. Because I always end up setting my stories in places I've never been.

But it'll be neat, considering the Olympics. My city had them two years ago, so it'll be cool to compare the post-Olympic atmospheres.

SirOtter
07-29-2012, 06:46 AM
She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and I spent a few days there last year on our way to the Continent, almost all in the City of London except for a brief excursion across the Thames to see the Globe and ride the Eye. We found the people to be very friendly and helpful. All we had to do was stand on a corner and look confused, and someone would ask if we needed help.

I can't say the food was anything to brag about, although the beer was terrific. And yes, I drank it as it's supposed to be drunk. The barmaid at the Adam & Eve Pub agreed with me that only American beer is so bad it has to be drunk cold. ;)

BunnyMaz
07-29-2012, 07:38 AM
Just popping in to say this thread is fascinating. I'm going to London in a little less than two months :D to research books. Because I always end up setting my stories in places I've never been.

But it'll be neat, considering the Olympics. My city had them two years ago, so it'll be cool to compare the post-Olympic atmospheres.

If you can at all find the time to do more than just the tourist hotspots, take a trip over to Camden Town! Check out the World's End pub, enjoy the massive goth markets and ignore the people loudly offering drugs on every street corner. It's an experience like no other.

Just had a thought... given what Camden is like on a normal day, what on Earth must it be like now, with the 'lympics on?!

Shakesbear
07-29-2012, 12:05 PM
If you can at all find the time to do more than just the tourist hotspots, take a trip over to Camden Town! Check out the World's End pub, enjoy the massive goth markets and ignore the people loudly offering drugs on every street corner. It's an experience like no other.

Just had a thought... given what Camden is like on a normal day, what on Earth must it be like now, with the 'lympics on?!

There is a World's End pub in King's Road, Chelsea. Though some say it is the wrong end of King's Road.

TudorRose
07-29-2012, 12:55 PM
The Geograph website (http://www.geograph.org.uk/) has a searchable database of images from all over Britain. Might come in handy to help you visualise things and identify specific places to research further. For example

Council estate - London (http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=34174196)

Police Station - London (http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=34174335)

Pub - London (http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=34174512)

Bus Stop - London (http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=34174376)

Bookshop - London (http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=34174428)

(okay, I'll stop now, or I'll spend all day on this site)

Torgo
07-29-2012, 02:28 PM
If you can at all find the time to do more than just the tourist hotspots, take a trip over to Camden Town! Check out the World's End pub, enjoy the massive goth markets and ignore the people loudly offering drugs on every street corner. It's an experience like no other.

Just had a thought... given what Camden is like on a normal day, what on Earth must it be like now, with the 'lympics on?!

About to brave it in search of lunch.

Hideous though the World's End is, there's been a pub there since Pepys' times. The drug dealers are less prevalent these days, thanks to a local crackdown. (They never actually sold any drugs, anyway - it was all burn bags.)

crunchyblanket
07-29-2012, 03:04 PM
I've been told that there are basically rich areas and poor areas in London. That there are some areas you avoid because of crime, is that the right idea?


Yes, although sometimes this is down to perception - for example, I grew up on the infamous Heygate Estate in the Elephant and Castle, which was a very poor area (it's now undergoing some serious gentrification) So what I view as a 'dodgy area' and what my middle-class husband views as dodgy don't quite gel - for example, I find Ilford very pleasant and perfectly safe, whereas he thinks it's rough as arseholes. There are certain areas that most people will agree tend to be rougher than others, though.


My mother who hasn't lived in London for twenty years said that the richer areas tended to be more in the inner city, then more around the outside you had working class areas. Is this the case or is it something different?Not necessarily. Again, the borough of Southwark, where I grew up, is as inner city as it gets, but is mostly very poor. You've got your Westminsters and Hammersmiths and Chelseas, which are more affluent areas in the centre. The suburbs/outskirts tend to be better off, although not all of them are - think Enfield, Dagenham, Eltham.



Do most people work in the inner city and live elsewhere?Depends on the job. People who commute to the city (i.e the ones who work in banking, big business, the traditional "city" jobs) tend to commute from outside of London or the outskirts, in my experience. In poorer boroughs, it seems that a lot of people work locally because the cost of public transport is very high.


I assume because of traffic issues police would have a smaller area that they were assigned to than if they weren't in the city? How do they get around? Do they walk? Do they use cars? Bikes? Public transport?Where I live now (Redbridge) you see a lot of policemen out on bikes. Not so many walking around these days, although that might just be perception. Police cars and motorbikes are fairly common.


Are there 'warehouse' districts about? Or many places with abandoned buildings? Not so much anymore - a lot of the old warehouses on the docks have been converted or knocked down. The entire Docklands area has pretty much been renovated now. If you go around Bromley-By-Bow, to pick an example, you do find old industrial estates that look pretty empty. Google maps is handy for this one.


What are the visual and location differences between the more upper class neighbourhoods and the lower class ones? Difficult to be specific, since even the look of neighbourhoods vary from borough to borough, but as a general rule: lower-class - more high-rise flats and narrow terraced housing, usually in a bad state of repair. These days, there are a lot of boarded-up shops where the economy's crashed and businesses have failed. I don't think the amount of litter varies all that much - we're a fairly mucky sort regardless of class. Upper-class neighbourhoods tend to have bigger houses, gated driveways (where I live, anyway) and far less in the way of white goods abandoned in front gardens ;)


How hard is it to get a place that allows pets on a lower income? Actually, I've found this a struggle myself. It's not about the income, really - most rental places these days are buy-to-let jobbies, which means the landlord privately owns the property. The perception is that pets will cause more damage to the property, so we got round it by offering a higher damage deposit (we have two cats)


What would you say is a usual commute in London?Varies greatly depending on where you're coming from. I used to work in London Bridge, and took the tube from Redbridge. It took around an hour all in, with a few changes. Now, I work in a local hospital and get the bus - takes twenty minutes. Some people walk, some cycle. Distance is key. People don't usually drive unless they work fairly locally.


What would be the estimated required annual wage for living in different types of areas? This is kind of a 'how long is a piece of string' type question. It'll vary depending on a) the property you live in (e.g, a one-bed flat in Chigwell costs less than a three-bed house) the lifestyle the person leads (do they shop in Waitrose or Asda? Own a plasma TV and an iPad, own a car or two? Do they have kids?) On the whole, London is an expensive place to live regardless of how affluent a borough you live in.


If you were on benefits I imagine you would live on a council estate? What are those like to live in? To catch transport from?I lived for 16 years on the Heygate Estate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heygate_Estate) (we were a fairly typical family - single mother on antidepressants working three jobs, absent father, income support) Contrary to reports, I actually didn't find it a bad place to live. Common problems included drug dealers (lots of them, commonly convening around stairwells and in cars) You'd get a lot of young people scrapping, although I don't recall any serious violence. Sometimes it could be very loud - people playing music out of their windows, that sort of thing.



What sort of mix of people do you meet travelling around London? Is there a mix of races? A significant number of people that speak little or no english? Any culture shock to do with that?I consider it completely normal to be on the bus and hear three or four different languages being spoken. Some Londoners perceive this as a bad thing but I actually love it - you can get pretty much any type of world cuisine somewhere in London, there are supermarkets dedicated to Oriental food, Afro-Carribean food, Eastern European food, Asian food.


Are there many homeless people? If so, in what type of areas? What are they like to talk to? You tend to see them out in Central London quite a lot, sleeping in doorways and such. I don't think there's anything specific about our homeless - a fair few of them sell the Big Issue. Otherwise, they're pretty normal, save for their situation.


Are ethnicities spread pretty evenly or are there pockets in different areas or in different classes?Mostly mixed, although certain groups do favour certain areas - Elephant and Castle has a strong Latino population, Ilford is largely Asian while Edgware is strongly Jewish. Enfield and the surrounding area has a lot of Italians, while Brixton is still strongly Afro-Carribean. You'll still find a mix of other ethnicities even among these enclaves.


If you can look up Chelsea, Regents Park, Southall, Milwall and Tottenham.

I think that will give you a wide spread. But Crunchy and Torgo will correct me if I'm wrong. I think it's a fairly good basis for comparison. I'd say Bermondsey, Tottenham and Plaistow for poorer areas, Knightsbridge, Richmond and Chelsea for richer.

MisterFrancis
07-29-2012, 04:31 PM
My mother who hasn't lived in London for twenty years said that the richer areas tended to be more in the inner city, then more around the outside you had working class areas. Is this the case or is it something different?

What are the visual and location differences between the more upper class neighbourhoods and the lower class ones?

In much of London rich and poor streets often sit right next to each other. Even in rich areas like Westminster there are social housing estates, while in poor boroughs like Hackney and Tower Hamlets there are enclaves gentrification. These are usually started by younger, arty professionals (like London Fields or Dalston), but eventually they become established and the area moves upmarket (like Stoke Newington). I think Islington is probably the best example of this, with some of the country's poorest people living on the same roads as millionaires.

Are there 'warehouse' districts about? Or many places with abandoned buildings?

Absolutely. Look up Hackney Wick on Google Maps - a lot of warehouses and light industry, some of the buildings either derelict or squatted. Follow the river east from North Greenwich through Newham and Dagenham and there are a lot of warehouses still. Some of them 'regenerated', like Trinity Buoy Wharf, some of them like the Thameside Industrial Estate, still very much in use as warehouses.

How hard is it to get a place that allows pets on a lower income?

Probably easier than it is on a higher income! I'd guess that most of the council houses in London contain at least one vicious-looking (not necessarily actually vicious, though) dog.

What would you say is a usual commute in London?

Very few people drive - the 'congestion charge' on entering central London makes it too expensive for anyone but the rich - and even they wouldn't be able to find a parking space. Even rich bankers heading in the the city use the trains or underground.

And anyone with any sense cycles! The tube and buses are so slow and overcrowded that more and more people are using bikes. For me, an hour long tube journey or an hour and a half on the bus, is better accomplished by taking a 20-minute cycle. There are now public hire bikes (known as the Boris Bike, after the current Mayor) which many people use for this.

If you were on benefits I imagine you would live on a council estate? What are those like to live in? To catch transport from?

At least in the inner-London boroughs, the council estates are really fine. Because they are cheek-by-jowl with rich areas anyone, they aren't ghettoes in any sense other than psychologically. And the 'right-to-buy' means that many will contain privately-owned flats anyway.

Because many of them were built in the 60s and 70s, they were built to high standards, so are warmer and have bigger rooms than even the middle-rung of the private-rented sector.

What sort of mix of people do you meet travelling around London? Is there a mix of races? A significant number of people that speak little or no english? Any culture shock to do with that? Are ethnicities spread pretty evenly or are there pockets in different areas or in different classes?

They say of the 2012 Olympics that it is the only time the games have been held in a city where there is a community from every competing country already living there.

There are whole areas where English isn't the first language, like Banglatown (an offical designation!) in Tower Hamlets, where even the street signs are in Bangladeshi.

You can't walk down any London street without hearing a huge range of foreign languages.

onesecondglance
07-29-2012, 06:08 PM
Roughly, the rent is cheaper the further out you live, so a lot of people will live further out but commute into central London to work or study. I lived in North London but came in on the Tube for University College London.

Another UCL alumnus here, also from rural places before and also having lived in north london (Finsbury Park, Cricklewood, Tottenham, and Walthamstow).

Much of the answers above will have given you the stuff you need, but something I didn't see mentioned particularly was the different identities of the various places.

London is a rough conglomerate of many different villages, absorbed over the time. The "style" and atmosphere of these different parts gives the city a variety I've not found elsewhere. Camden has been mentioned as a distinct "personality" - it's certainly not the same place I visited ten years ago, and is a lot less alternative nowadays, but it's still worth a visit to see something different to the centre.

With regard to the busyness - London never, ever stops. There is never a time of day when it is quiet or empty. Ever. Whilst it's not always bustling - and having spent a good amount of time commuting during rush hours, I've seen my fair share of strangers' armpits - there is never a time or place where you are truly alone. For me, having lived in Devon before going to London, this made it claustrophobic and suffocating. I had to get out every six months or so before it drove me mad.

It's a great place though. I hold a lot of affection for it, still. My mother-in-law is a Tottenham girl born and bred, so should you need any info about that area drop me a PM.

NyxAustin
07-29-2012, 06:42 PM
Thanks for all the replies, they've been really useful. I think I need some time to digest what I've got here in this thread and make notes. The links also look useful, as does the mention of specific places (I've had a look around google maps but hadn't known which bits to focus on till now).

If anyone has anything else they wanted to add, such as little things a londoner would know that others wouldn't then feel free to add. I'll be trawling through this thread many times over the next few weeks as I gather information.

There will likely be more specific questions I think of later on, but I think I need to make sense of what I've got already first. The observation that someone from a more rural area would view it differently from someone who grew up in a city was particually useful - gave me a lot to think on.Thanks again.

Bufty
07-29-2012, 09:04 PM
Nyx- glad you found the information helpful. I found it all interesting, too. London is a truly massive city.

I see you live in England so you'll have some idea what London is like from news articles, TV etc..

I lived in London SW20 (Wimbledon/Raynes Park/New Malden/Kingston) area from 1946 to 1954 and have visited many times and still only seen a microscopic fraction of London and Greater London. It covers over 600 square miles!

If you've any friends or relatives down there (or maybe it's 'up' or 'across' there) -chat them up and get a bed for a few weeks.

I love London and its people.

I've never found them unfriendly and the word 'dirty' would never spring to mind to describe London. I visited Sheffield in the mid 60's and that city was 'blacker' from industrial smoke than anything I ever recall seeing in London - and I remember the notorious 'smog' one November in the early fifties when you literally could barely see your hand in front of your face. I walked in the gutter beside my dad's car with my hand on the car bonnet/hood to guide him because he could see nothing at all beyond the car.

But someone who has never been to a big city is obviously going to find London or New York or any major city overwhelming simply from the size aspect but that also applies to the country lad visiting the nearest town for the first time.

Your post brings back memories that I know are irrelevant to your question so I slink back into my usual shell now.

But, seriously, if you can visit London, do so - and enjoy a beer on a river cruise while researching.:Hug2:



=NyxAustin;7473175]Thanks for all the replies, they've been really useful. I think I need some time to digest what I've got here in this thread and make notes. The links also look useful, as does the mention of specific places (I've had a look around google maps but hadn't known which bits to focus on till now).

If anyone has anything else they wanted to add, such as little things a londoner would know that others wouldn't then feel free to add. I'll be trawling through this thread many times over the next few weeks as I gather information.

There will likely be more specific questions I think of later on, but I think I need to make sense of what I've got already first. The observation that someone from a more rural area would view it differently from someone who grew up in a city was particually useful - gave me a lot to think on.Thanks again.

mirandashell
07-29-2012, 09:33 PM
Sorry Nyx, I didn't realise you were English until I'd posted! That's why I answered like you knew nothing at all.

EMaree
07-29-2012, 09:51 PM
I've been to London a few times. It's not really my thing... since I'm from a rural area of the UK the ridiculous prices, crowded streets, packed Subway and noise all put me on edge.

But I loved the parks. There's something really cool about how they manage to fit so much beautiful green space into such a busy city. And the variety of restaurants, shops, history, and 24-hour things to do is great.

Anninyn
07-29-2012, 10:16 PM
The sky is never blue, not once in all the times I've visited. The level of pollution means it's always a weird, dirty grey colour. Even when the sun shines, it's like it's coming through a battered tubberware container.

After coming back from London, I cough black gunk for days.

You can see the haze over London from miles away.

It's noisy and anonymous and full of people and no-one obeys traffic laws. People try to deal you drugs ten yards from uniformed police officers. But on the other hand, it's got one of the most incredible and wonderful population mix I have ever seen.

No-one makes eye contact on the tube. The one time I did, a creepy guy followed me for twenty minutes. Never did that again.

It's so full. There's never a quiet space to just think, to just be. It's so anonymous and strange.

Just a country girls impressions. My husband is a native londoner who's lived here for 20 years, so his opinion might be more positive.

I like London, but I think living there would kill me. I don't have enough hard edges.

shaldna
07-29-2012, 10:25 PM
Do most people work in the inner city and live elsewhere?

Sometimes - London has a very good public transport system, which enables folks who live 100 miles away to work in the City. However, you'll also find that London is made up of lots of little indvidual townships - and many folk who live in those work in them, especially unskilled workers.


I assume because of traffic issues police would have a smaller area that they were assigned to than if they weren't in the city? How do they get around? Do they walk? Do they use cars? Bikes? Public transport?

Depends on the area - London is pretty damn big - depending on where you are you will see all or none of the above.


What would you say is a usual commute in London?

Depends - I know folks who have high flying City jobs who have a two hour commute either way - some of them like living more rurally, and for some it's cheaper than trying to relocate their whole family.


What would be the estimated required annual wage for living in different types of areas?

Depends on the job - for instance, Civil Servants working in London get an added allowance that can be around another quarter of their salary. High powered jobs pay better, obviously - I have a friend who joined a law firm, at 23 on a 100k a year salary. On the opposite side of it you have hundreds of thousands of folks working in retail and hospitality for minimum wage. The problem with 'average' figures is that they are never really a true representation - it only takes a couple of million pound earners to throw the curve for others.


If you were on benefits I imagine you would live on a council estate? What are those like to live in? To catch transport from?

Most council estates will be further out in the boroughs, not Central. If you are on benefits you get your rent paid for you and, if eligable, will get council accomodation.

Here's the rub though - in most areas there is a two -5 year waiting list, and for some accomodation you could be waiting up to 15 years. Priority is given to homeless, then families, then single people - it's a points based system and those at with the most points will be housed first - to give you an indication of how it works, if you are single and childless you will get maybe 40 points, I had a child, was homeless and got 140 points and I still had to wait two years to be housed - and this was in Belfast where we have much less strain on social housing, so you'll need to take that into consideration.


Are there annual tickets or something like that to decrease costs of using the underground or other public transport?

Yes. But the costs etc depend on where you are travelling to and from - I know folks who are paying 8k a year for their trains on an annual ticket. So I would say if they don't have to travel far or often, then pay as you go is a better option than an annual - you can also get an Oyster card which allows you to prepay for travel, they are pretty handy I have one and I live in a different country.


What sort of mix of people do you meet travelling around London? Is there a mix of races? A significant number of people that speak little or no english? Any culture shock to do with that?

You will meet everyone and anyone. Honestly. There are areas which are pretty solidly one race or another, but for the most part when you are travelling out and about you will see people from all over - including folks who don't speak a word of English. Most people adapt pretty quickly to any sort of culture shock, mainly because no one talks to each other, no one makes eye contact, and, just like in all big cities, people tend to pretend that no one else existsts - for instance, you NEVER speak to anyone on public transport, and you don't make eye contact, it's like some unspoken rule.


Are there many homeless people? If so, in what type of areas? What are they like to talk to?

There are LOTS, and in all areas, and you might give them money, but you don't speak to them.

Parametric
07-29-2012, 10:32 PM
As a really really rough measure of how much you need to earn to live in London, the London Living Wage is currently 8.30 per hour (http://www.livingwage.org.uk/about-living-wage). (Minimum wage is 6 per hour.) I think that's assuming a full-time job.

Bufty
07-29-2012, 10:33 PM
I haven't found travelling on public transport in any decent sized city to be any different to travelling on Public Transport in London.

If I want information about an approaching bus stop or if we're close to where I'm going - I'll ask - and if anyone asks me a question, I'll answer.

That assumes that whoever you speak to is someone who speaks English and isn't also a tourist like yourself. :snoopy:

But either way, it costs nothing to be polite.

Becca C.
07-30-2012, 02:26 AM
Use Google Maps! Seriously, you can learn SO much from Street View. I'm using it to plan my trip, and you can find out exactly how long it takes to walk places. You can get a great feel for a neighbourhood from clicking around it -- I jot down the names of restaurants I see near my hotel, convenience stores, everything I'll need once I'm there so I don't have any problem once I actually get there. It's almost like really being there.

Hilldawg
07-30-2012, 04:39 AM
Every time I'm in London, I'm pretty much damp all day long. :)

shaldna
07-30-2012, 03:16 PM
on the transport issue - the tube can be daunting for a newcomer - the first time I used it I was terrified - everyone seems in such a hurry - and there are rules for using the escalators too - you stay stationary on one side so folks who need to run or walk up can do so on the other side.

crunchyblanket
07-30-2012, 11:58 PM
I've never found them unfriendly and the word 'dirty' would never spring to mind to describe London

I never thought London was dirty until I went to Berlin. Now there's a remarkably clean city. Now I notice all the cigarette butts and crisp packets, the plastic bags and the dog turds. Mind you, Paris is dirtier IMO.

As for rudeness...yeah, Londoners can be rude and unfriendly and downright aggressive sometimes. And in my experience, the rudest tend to be businessmen - the kind who wave their briefcases at you on the Tube as if the mere presence of the object should afford them more breathing space. I passed out on the Tube one summer (it gets very, very hot in the summertime, and sweaty and smelly) and a businessman actually tutted at me as I was being dragged off the train. If I ever see him again, I'm going to kneecap him.