Another simple thing that sealed it for me was a documentary I watched recently, which led me to think through a number of things. The documentary is called 'The Pedway: Elevating London' and can be found on Vimeo here. While a number of middle-aged eccentric voices babble on about the utopian post-war vision of London, primarily the development of elevated paths around the city to result in a safer environment for pedestrians, it dawned on me that there are probably an infinite amount of things to make a documentary about in London. That makes it sound like that particular line of inquiry is so niche that noone would be interested. But yeah, an infinite numbers of things to write about. More infinite than any other city? We'll see, but it's a good starting point.
I've also been greatly inspired by reading Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. The book never fails to describe in such a huge amount of detail the surroundings, predominantly urban, that the well-formed characters find themselves in. Before telling events that took place in a certain location, Hugo will frequently give a short history of the development there in order for the reader to fully understand the significance of every action that is then expressed. For instance, in Part II. Book 4 'The Gorbeau Tenement', Hugo goes into explicit detail about 'a region where Paris seems to disappear. It was not a wilderness, for there were streets and houses; not town, for the streets were rutted like country roads, and grass grew in them; nor was it a village, for the houses were too high. What, then was it? It was an inhabited place where there was noone, a deserted place where there was someone, a city boulevard, a Paris street, wilder by night than the forest, more melancholy by day than a graveyard. It was the ancient quarter of the horse-market, the Marche-aux-Chevaux.' He goes on to describe particular buildings and their history, before bringing Jean Valjean into the foreground of the already developed setting. There is so much to learn about every city!
And so, although there are just a few days before the deadline, I am frantically trying to gather documents together to apply for a MSc in International Planning at a London University. There are options to study part-time as well as to learn a language alongside your discipline, which would give me a good opportunity to continue studying Mandarin.
Once I left my home country, I felt that the prospect of moving anywhere in the world became that much more available to me. Anyone in a similar position feel the same? But now, London seems to hold that same availability for me, despite being 'my own'. This magazine, as well as independent research into urbanism and other related fields has completely changed my perspective, so I can treat London with this new, positive lens instead of with the everything-is-grey-and-therefore-shit goggles I had before I left. Any similar thoughts from my international readers?