Every city has so many different sides. It’s what makes them so exhilarating – and sometimes exasperating.
Keith Ridgway makes a fine job of enumerating Dublin’s multiple personalities in his wonderful 2003 novel, The Parts, included in our city-pick Dublin. Here’s the start of the opening chapter:
Plural proper noun.
There is a Dublin of the rich of course, and a Dublin of the poor. That’s standard stuff. But there’s more than that. The rich like a little multiplicity after all; the poor are wealthy in variation. And then there’s the neither rich nor poor — the getting by, the middle mass, the bulk. Where do they live?
They live in Dublin with the others. A million kittens in a sack, down by the river.
Working Dublin, queer Dublin, junkie Dublin, media Dublin, party Dublin, executive Dublin, homeless Dublin, suburban Dublin, teenage Dublin, gangland Dublin, Dublin with the flags out, mother Dublin, culchie Dublin, Muslim Dublin, the wind ripped rain at eleven o’clock in the morning on Pearse Street in February Dublin, drunken Dublin, hungry Dublin, Dublin of the vice squad and the syphilis outbreak, dancing Dublin, pro-Cathedral Dublin, writer’s Dublin, politician’s Dublin, Dublin on the telly, Bono’s Dublin, Ronnie Drew’s Dublin, Bloomsday Dublin, the Dublin of Arbour Hill and Kilmainham Jail, Gandon’s Dublin, Durcan’s Dublin, Teaching English as a Foreign Language Dublin, Jewish Dublin, the emigrant’s Dublin, the immigrant’s Dublin, Dublin where they beat you up, railings Dublin, Dublin where they rob you, fanlight Dublin, Dublin where they rape you, golf club Dublin, Dublin where they kill you, the American Dublin, the St Patrick’s Day Dublin, the Phoenix Park Dublin, serial killer’s Dublin, paradise, scary Dublin, money in brown envelopes Dublin, traffic jam Dublin, property Dublin, inept Dublin, the Dublin you can’t afford, the Dublin that needs you, the Dublin that doesn’t, Dublin with its view of the hills, Dublin with the sea in the bay and the river stumbling towards it, drunk.
But Ridgway’s list has got us thinking how this approach might work for other cities. London, for instance.
That’s why we’re asking for ideas towards a 360 degrees portrait of the UK capital. We’ll be awarding copies of city-lit London for the best contributions – the deadline is 20 May. Just tweet us at #thecitylitcafe or send to malcolm.burgess3@ btopenworld.com We’ll be putting all the entries on our blog site.
And to get you started here are some ideas we’ve already received …
Cornish pasty shop London, boring animals on the outside of Regent’s Park Zoo that you can see for free London, white bicycle London, Shakespeare’s London, seeing Timothy Spall saying hallo to a beggar London, Her Majesty’s London, two mile an hour London, vinyl record shop London, Barbican geraniums in January microclimate London, Jack the Ripper London, chugger London, woman not working in Tower Hamlets London, woman not working in Holland Park London, psychogeographer’s London, buying £500 worth of make-up in Selfridges because you’re depressed London, Anthony Gormley sculpture London, riding on Rotten Row London, Occupy London, being an unemployed actor in Crouch End London, eating in a Garfunkel’s wearing a plastic policeman’s hat London, pigeon with one foot London, Caribbean liming London, freegan London …