Bristol is better than London

Don’t even think about leaving

Let’s talk about Bristol. Let’s talk about sitting on College Green in May, watching scene kids fall off their skateboards. Let’s talk about going to Motion for the first time, past the barbed wire and the sniffer dogs, entering something post-industrial, post-apocalyptic. Let’s talk about watching the dawn rise from the benches on Brandon Hill. Let’s talk about that ugly concrete hollow roundabout near Cabot Circus, which the locals filled with organic fruit stalls and ping-pong tables. Let’s talk about 13 half-pints in The Cori Tap. Let’s talk about that giant breakdancing Jesus mural in Stokes Croft.

A few years ago they tried to build a Tesco Express on Gloucester Road, that parade of street art and independence and bars full of beard ‘n’ beanie blokes wearing flannel shirts. Gloucester Road greeted Tesco with a disdainful fusillade of petrol bombs and bricks. Just to spell that out completely: there were widespread street battles with the police because there was going to be a new Tesco Express.

I live in London now, the shining city on a hill, the capital of dreams. And boy, do we have Tesco Expresses here. And boy, does nobody give a shit about how many open up here. Us graduates chase London like sharks after blood, ready to slot straight into the middle of the social and economic divide between Poundland and Pret. Move to London they say – for the career, for the money, for the prospects. Move to London and spend morning and evening underground, move to London and eat more ready meals than you ever did at uni, move to London and shudder when the relentless traffic pollution turns the inside of your nose black.

It’s not even about the beer garden at Highbury Vaults, or double balloons at Lakota, or refusing to ever take a bus because you’d miss getting to look at all the art-afflicted streets. It’s not even how upset everyone got when DJ Derek disappeared. It’s the simple fact that living in Bristol makes you feel good. It’s not a winner takes all city like London, frankly, nobody in Bristol really cares about winning. They’re about as goal-orientated as the average goldfish. The result is a city that’s pathologically laidback, but as vivid with beauty and interest as anywhere else in the country.

London, hoodie up, feet on the night bus seat, hands in its pockets, says survive me. Bristol, relaxed, grinning, itching its red eyes a little, Bristol says enjoy me.