​10 things london can learn from the world

Whilst we’re celebrating London this week, we’re also aware of the city’s flaws. Let’s get taught.

by Francesca Dunn
12 November 2015, 3:25pm

Oh, London. We love you but you don't half have some major flaws. You'll probably slowly work your way through them and we'll eventually end up living in a utopian global city, but until then we'll carry on working too late, reluctantly leaving the pub when the bell tolls, and spreading our sickness on public transport while pressed up against sweaty, gropey strangers. Our city needs to fix up, look sharp and inspire a generation by taking note of these things that other cities are already doing so well.  London really could and probably should learn…

FIND out how London's changing with our series exploring the shifting city.

1. How to not be creepy on the tube.
It's always a bit gross when you're on the tube during rush hour and the clammy bodies of what seems like a thousand people are touching yours. Worse still is when your new travel buddies are creepy older men and you spend the next six stops trying to block out what definitely feels like violation. Tokyo gets the metro (and omg, so many other things) spot on. As well as handy markers on the platform indicating where the doors are about to appear and providing lines to queue along, there are several "women only" carriages for those who want to straight up avoid any unwanted attention.

2. It wouldn't hurt for a bar to stay open past bedtime
You've been for dinner after work and fancy following it up with a few drinks, but what's this? It's 11pm and the pubs are ringing for last orders and all the bars are about to shut for the night. You'll literally have to take the party back to yours and cross your fingers that the off license at the end of the road isn't shut. If you were in New York right now, you'd have a whole host of great late night establishments just awaiting your presence.

3. The importance of 24-hour pharmacies
According to our research (cheers Google!), it looks like there's one 24-hour pharmacy for the whole of London. So if you wake up in the middle of the night in need of medical attention, it's either a long wait in A&E or a potentially even longer Über ride over to SW5 where said miracle pharmacy supposedly exists. New York has shit loads. Course they do! They're so good at late night stuff.

4. introduce the face mask
Whenever somebody sneezes or coughs near us, we immediately hold our breath and don't breathe again until we're way out of range of all the diseases they potentially just hurled in our direction. It's like watching the Titanic sink all over again. The sooner we start wearing medical face masks when we're ill, the better. Most people seem to think that they're worn solely to protect paranoid types from polluted air, but more often than not it's out of consideration for other people. You're sick and spreading crappy bacteria everywhere; have some respect and either stay in bed or keep it to yourself! Most convenience stores and pharmacies across Hong Kong, China and Japan sell them in various colours and even enriched with menthol to help victims breathe through their cold from within the cosy confines of their mask.

5. Doing clubbing differently
In Berlin you can go clubbing in the daytime - and not those weird breakfast raves you occasionally get popping up in shit places that surely nobody goes to, but actual clubbing. Because, why the hell not? There's usually a very limited bracket of time you can and should spend in London clubs. If you manage to find one that hasn't already closed down or been overrun by tourists, you don't want to be there too early, but then by the time you're truly into it, a few hours have passed and the club is about to close. The idea of clubbing in the middle of the day, although horrifying to some, sounds weird and wonderful to us. Variety is the spice of life after all.

6. Two wheels are better than four
They like to ride their bicycles, they like to ride their bikes. While perhaps not as famous for its biking culture as Amsterdam, Copenhagen is officially the first "bike city" in the world with over 390km of bike lanes. Also voted the world's most liveable city, other nations are now looking to the Danes and attempting to steal their vibe. Not only is it great exercise, the lifestyle helps reduce pollution, with cyclists in Copenhagen saving the city 90k tons of CO2 emissions each year as they embrace the cycle super highway. According to signs (and a maze of roadworks not too far from our office) London is currently working on one of these. We're hoping this means less ghost bikes, less cars and less money spent on gym memberships.

7. Regular breaks and long lunches
There seems to be an unwritten rule in London that you shouldn't actually take your full lunch break. Co-ordinate timings with your favourite colleague, sure, but only so that you have company on the two minute walk from the office to the corner where you'll browse the sandwiches at Pret, poke your head into Pod, consider Itsu for two seconds, and then head back to Pret together to grab your usual sandwich. Take said standard snack back to your respective desks and continue with your work because there's just too much to do and the emails are flowing harder than the human traffic on Oxford Street. Perhaps it's all part of the same English guilt that drives us to apologise for anything and everything. Or perhaps we should, as Björk may or may not have told i-D last week, just learn to give ourselves a break! A French friend takes a full hour and a half for lunch, while a Spanish mate gets two hours in which to head home to eat and nap. The French also know how to make the most of their summer, with many Parisians abandoning the city for the entirety of August.

8. A relaxed approach to busking
The music in New Orleans is something else. Unlike London where you have to apply/audition for a busking licence, the streets of New Orleans are lined with bands 24/7. You want to express yourself through music? Go for it. This naturally leads to nights of dancing in the street à la Bowie and Jagger, and regular marching band parades that it'd be rude not to join. The city is alive with the sound of brass and everybody is out to make friends. Shout out to the city's love of the daiquiri too. Less traditional cocktail, more frozen slush puppy spiked with rum and available to purchase in twenty different fruity flavours in either a pintsize polystyrene cup or a gallon bottle, this isn't just a drink but a delicious way of life. Although London certainly doesn't need any help with its drinking culture, a daiquiri stand in each borough definitely wouldn't go amiss in summer. We'll probably avoid adopting the daiquiri drive-thrus though.

9. Working hours that let you have a life
Working 9-3, what a way to make a living! Seriously though, it was announced just last week that employers across Sweden are introducing a shorter working day in attempt to increase both happiness and productivity. Denmark, too, have cut down many shifts to end at 4pm. We're not opposed to this idea.

10. An eco-friendly way of being
Sure, we don't have any geothermal energy to harness or waterfalls to dam like Iceland do, but if every landlord stuck some solar panels on their roof we'd be away. The very least we can do is recycle properly. Seriously. Every time you throw food in the recycling bin, a fairy dies and Björk sheds an angry tear.


Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Danny Choo

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