Sunday, January 30, 2011
A tale of two cities
Well any blog worth it's salt is full of opinions... and I like extended hyperboles...
London and Dublin... are obviously two sisters, in that they clearly have a shared heritage, with Dublin growing up under the influence of it's "bigger" sister. And they are two sisters in that they both revel in the unique aspects of their personalities.
London is the sophisticated, urban, professional (picture a black wool coat, suit and tie, discrete, yet expensive and elegant). London hangs out with the likes of Paris, New York, Tokyo. In London, the clocks are always showing the correct time, and litter is nowhere to be seen even though there is not a bin in sight. Sure, London has its vegan-punks, multicultural marriages and excesses (what modern city wouldn't?)... but everyone is still under the influence of the 9-5 bankers, excessive architecture and a complex, yet efficient transit system.
Now, everyone knows Dublin... the city where you go to drink Guinness and Whisky in one of the many "Irish Pubs" (so infamous that they are a culturally exported phenomenon). Dublin is quick to smile, quick to embrace, and is ever so honest about it's humble beginnings (well, except for that moment in 2003 when they decided to erect The Spire... but even that is a laugh, given the expense of such a clearly phallic symbol). Dublin is always wearing a short skirt and heels... despite the cold. Dublin flaunts its artists and its grittiness in the same breath. We knew we were home because none of the clocks at the airport were working. And the rooks and wind were playing havoc with the litter despite the multitude of bins.
After that bit of fun, a more somber view... as our friend Kieran pointed out... visiting London only serves to highlight how the city's current stature is due to its imperialist past. And there is an inescapable bitterness, when viewing a richness that was only made possible by stealing the wealth and cultural heritage of numerous other countries. The comparatively shabby architecture and monuments riddled with bullet holes only serves to highlight that, it is personality (rather than size, or grandeur) that makes Dublin an international cultural phenomenon.
As for the lack of bins in London... well perhaps a history of imperialism doesn't make one very popular. As we set out for dinner on Sunday night, we were detained by the police, and made to stay in our hotel, while they investigated an abandoned vehicle in Trafalgar Square ...and the lack of bins is just another security measure.
The photo is of Stephenson's Rocket in the National Science Museum.