Magazine article The Spectator

London Has Long since Lost Its Allure for Me

Magazine article The Spectator

London Has Long since Lost Its Allure for Me

Article excerpt

London has long since lost its allure for me - altogether too many cars, foreigners, cyclists, middle-class liberals and people who, like me, work in the media, as they call it. I was born in London but only feel truly at home in the north-east of England, an area of the country within which the constituents of that list I quoted above are almost nonexistent. But I am thinking now of moving back to the city - it's possible that I could afford a flat in somewhere such as Brockley, or perhaps Catford - to take advantage of a radical new development in our capital. Because rumbling along the streets of London quite soon will be homophobic buses.

I'm well into my fifties now, and jaded, so nothing much that happens in the world induces a sense of marvel and excitement.

But homophobic buses really do it for me.

As the Proclaimers once sang, I would walk 500 miles - just to sit, proudly, on a homophobic bus. It would not matter where the bus was heading. It's the travelling that's the thing, don't you think, not the arriving?

The Court of Appeal, rather wonderfully, has called for an investigation into the Mayor of London's decision to ban homophobic buses from the streets of the capital. These were buses upon which the Core Issues Trust, a Christian charity, had placed an advert reading: 'Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post Gay and Proud - Get Over It.' The adverts had been placed there in response to one from the gay pressure group Stonewall, which read: 'Some people are gay! Get over it!' Both adverts seem a little bit camp to me.

Anyone who says 'Get over it' (especially with an exclamation mark), I tend to mark down in my little red book as 'probably bats for the other side', or some similarly dated and off-colour euphemism.

In any case, Stonewall's advert seemed, at first, entirely superfluous to me. We know that some people are gay, I thought to myself when I saw the ad - all we have to do is turn on the TV and there they all are, jabbering excitedly to one another, or telling us that it's going to rain tomorrow and we'd better take our 'brollies' out with us. I may have been wrong about this, however. The latest census returns suggest that there are far, far fewer gay people in Britain than the gay campaigners would have you believe.

Indeed, Britain's population of lesbians is apparently vanishingly small and even endangered - and it might be that one of these days we shall need to set aside an area of the country where they can be successfully re-introduced, for reasons of biodiversity, much as the RSPB has done so gloriously with red kites in Buckinghamshire and beyond. …

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