Blues in Bandit Country

I have been living in South East England for the last eighteen months. I have decided to leave the area as I’ve been increasingly unhappy here. It’s strange as I’ve lived in various places, often hating them initially but have always warmed to them and found a way of being happy living there. Basically I find lots of negatives about living here and struggle to find positives.

It’s not there aren’t nice people here. I was talking at a party recently and described my struggle to find people on my wavelength here and this chap told me that people like myself tend to leave the area. I asked why he stayed and he said that he grew up around here and have family and friends nearby and have learned to live with it. I think this is my reason for leaving, I simply don’t want to learn to live with it.

There are all sorts of reasons. One of which is that this is a dormitory town. The town basically serves as a place that is close to London, it serves as a place for London commuters to live, but not in London. It’s advantage is that you can take to train and be in London in just over an hour, which is great. However purely using this for a social life (evenings and weekends) is quite tiring and really I’d rather actually be in London than near London with no advantages personally of not being in London. Dormitory towns are relatively large towns, yet have very little going on culturally for their size and suffer the daily hassle of places taking time, because large British towns are poorly organised for getting around, restrictions on travel due to poor local public transport and traffic congestion at certain times of the day. for example, it takes me a 15 minute drive to get to the ‘local’ supermarket, but that can be over an hour if you go during rush hour. To me the hassles of living here have no justification. My view is that dormitory towns have neither the advantages of a self-contained city nor those of a small town/rural location; they seem to be the worst of both. Maybe some people like that, but not me.

Whilst I appreciate that I’m being paid to be here, the fact that everything is much more expensive than at home in Wales, means I have to accept this bizarre concept that ‘it’s not real money’. Basically because the cost of living here is as high as London, due to high rents, which is why a pint of beer or a cinema ticket is almost double the price, curtails the enjoyment really, I feel ripped off, so don’t go to the cinema and it’s a faceless chain anyway. I just hate the idea of subsidising asset rich landowners with every purchase. I was in Germany a few weeks ago and everything was so much cheaper, even in the big cities, why is Britain so rubbish at this? By living here, i feel part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, ‘market forces’ are telling me I shouldn’t be here. Also the lack of/cost of space has made it less efficient for me to do my work, I could do it more efficiently elsewhere.

Then there is the accommodation. I’m paying more than double what I would do for the equivalent in Wales, for something that is half as good. Everyday I hate having to shower with a shower that has no water pressure and only extends up to my neck. a modern building which roasts in summer (we actually have a summer in Surrey, I don’t quite know what to do, surely I’m on holiday somewhere?) I live in a shared house, have an okay room and share a kitchen and bathroom, whilst my friend in Germany for the same money has his own flat, with his own living room in a good location in a large city.

I am Welsh,  South East England is probably the complete polar opposite, culturally, within the UK. It has been fascinating to learn about the Southern English culture, but I don’t fit into it and everyday I feel more and more of an outsider (which I’m used to), rather than feel I am becoming part of the community. Britain is divided, but the South East is divided too. In socioeconomic terms it seems to have an hour glass structure. There are large numbers of wealthy people and large numbers of poor people, but few in the middle (which is, I suppose what I am). They even speak differently, the poor speak with a Surrey version of the London accent, the rich with a ‘posh’ estuary accent. The worse thing is that these two communities don’t seem to mix socially. There is a ‘class divide’, people actually look down their noses at people, which is horrible. I’ve never noticed how Welsh I am, until I came here. I’ve lived in Northern England, Scotland and Bristol without these issues arising.

People say that there is nice countryside nearby, which isn’t really true for someone like myself who grew up in the  rugged countryside of Wales. I genuinely miss the wind and near constant rain.  There are no normal shops, there is no butcher or decent baker in the town. I know I could make my own bread sometimes and order stuff on the internet, but I miss the convenience of being able to pop by a local shop and get things straight away. The high rents make the economics of everyday shops economically unfeasible here, unless you want to buy expensive stuff.

The Southern English sense of humour is different too. Essentially it’s very similar in form, yet the vibe is completely different, it’s a different kind of self-deprecation? There is this sense that the people here don’t really get why the Welsh don’t support England in sporting events and that there is no malice or hostility in it. Using humour in getting to know people from different cultures is usually lots of fun, perhaps the difficulty with Southern England is that it’s so close, yet so different that makes it harder?

I do want a girlfriend. Dating is something of a numbers game, so living somewhere where the sort of people I generally like tend not to live is perhaps a good reason to leave.

I am an easy going chap. I’ve lived in a tropical forest, cooking on an open fire and washing in the river. Whilst there I did miss being dry, had crazy food cravings, but I was okay . I was okay because I knew that such home comforts were unavailable. Living in the forest was tough but obviously had it’s compensations. to me living in Surrey doesn’t have much in the way of compensations as somewhere to live and I know that I could live somewhere nicer.

I was aware before i moved here, that this may be somewhere I don’t like. But I felt positive that there would be compensations (such as access to London) and that I would find a way to be happy here, having not found this, I feel it is time to leave and move back home for a while. It is important to be happy.

 We’ll Keep a Welcome


i mean these songs don’t usually bring me to tears!