London has changed in some ways for the better and others for the worse. The air is cleaner but the streets look worse. The police are better armed and the people less safe. The city is more cosmopolitan but less comfy. The food is better and the prices are worse. The Underground is pretty much as it was, much the worse in some places for the fifty years’ wear since I first rode it.
You would not send two children into London today on their own; they would be better off in New York. The last couple of nights, law abiding adults feared to venture out into some parts of the city.
I’ve been listening to Noel Coward’s great Blitz song as I write: “London Pride Has Been Handed Down To Us.” (Video, and link to buy the song here.) Some of the lyrics make a lot of sense:
In our city darkened now, street and square and crescent,Grey city, stubbornly implanted,
We can feel the living past in our darkened present.
Ghosts beside our starlit Thames who lived and loved and died
Keep throughout the ages London Pride…
Taken so for granted for a thousand years.
Stay, city, smokily enchanted,
Cradle of our memories and hopes and fears.
London has lived through much worse, and London will survive.