The Sky news presenter Kay Burley caused a minor twitter storm last night when all she was trying to do was complain about restaurant service. Of which, more in a minute.
London, for those of you living north of the M25, is a big city in which only seriously rich people can now afford to buy a house. Though if you're prepared to re-fit a garage for human habitation you can get one for a positive snip at just shy of half a million. It does have a lot of empty houses in very des res areas, but sadly for those seeking accommodation less than two hours distant from their place of work, it mostly belongs to Russian/Middle Eastern billionaires looking for a speculative home for some spare cash.
And, when they do inhabit them on their occasional visits, they find these handsome three and four storey townhouses just too Wendy like for their leisure and pleasure needs. So they dig out another two or three basement levels for swimming pools, gymnasia and private cinemas. London car pounds recently reported abandoned vehicles including top of the range Porches and similar, - not the object of carjacking, but left by owners thinking it too tedious to schlep across town and ante up some loose change for it.
In any event, public transport is a source of constant annoyance to city workers, but not to fret since the £19 billion initial Crossrail project is now with them, and a second one, at £27 billion, has been announced. Transport London and the Ministry of Transport have also set aside tens of millions each for a nice garden bridge, because who could say no to Joanna Lumley, its principle cheerleader? Taxpayers up and down the UK are thrilled at all these important adornments to the capital city of the island nations.
A magnet for arts lovers with its myriad array of cultural attractions, including world class museums and galleries. Though apparently not quite enough to slake the metropolitcan appetite since the V&A is about to pillage Bradford's National Museum and appropriate its 400.000 collection of Royal Photographic Society images. So much for Northern Powerhouses!
Meanwhile, next door in Lancashire, five major museums face closure since the council, responsing to central government cuts, is taking away the £65 millions over two years it takes to run them. We often hear of the London effect in terms of jobs; in respect of people requiring to re-locate as near to it as they can afford to advance their careers. But it also sucks in the cultural assets which are so vital a part of other cities' creative ambitions. The arts spend per capita in London is many times that of any other part of the UK.
But back to Ms Burley and her irritable tweet. It seems she was dining in the current fave among the foodie fashionistas: The Chiltern Firehouse, a five star boutique hotel and Michelin starred restaurant. I'm unable to report on the quality of her chosen menu, for her distress concerned the wine. She had paid £130 for a bottle of "average" wine but was being hustled from her table before it was finished, such is the pressure on bookings.
Where do you start with a heart rending yarn like this? That anyone is daft enough to pay this kind of sum unblinkingly? That a common dining experience involves wine costing circa twice the jobseekers weekly allowance? That a herd mentality persists among the "in" set which would be the envy of any self respecting family of elephants? That a media savvy person should have had such a colossal irony bypass? (And subsequently tweeting about a miner grandad actually doesn't help any.)
London is, frankly, too big for its and everyone else's boots. The aiport runway row could be resolved by moving some traffic up the road to Birmingham (though that wouldn't help the environment any more than Heathrow or Gatwick.) Instead of front loading high speed train routes emanating from and going to London, why not priorities northern destinations and cross country routes? After all the taxpayers there are coughing up for them.
London has bred an uber class of people utterly detached from contemporary realities and drunk on its own sense of privilege and entitlement. I give uou, ladies and gentlemen, its current mayor: Boris Johnson.