The stress of living in a city does really wacky things to your mental health. It’s even scientifically proven! German researchers found that volunteers living in urban areas had more active amygdalas—the region of the brain that processes anxiety—when receiving negative comments while solving math problems. So while finishing my London preparations by finding a safe spot in my suitcase for my Spider-Man suit, I’ve been mentally preparing for life in another city.
My perception of London predictably comes from books and movies. A quick mental survey of books I’ve read that unravel in London brings to mind the following: Canterbury Tales, Oliver Twist, The War of the Worlds, and novels featuring Sherlock Holmes and Jeeves. If I lived in an unrealistically small bubble and therefore painted a picture of London based solely upon these stories, these are the phrases I might use to describe the lovely city: improper, a dirty hellhole, apocalyptic, cocaine-laden, and class-conscious, respectively.
In a probable attempt to brighten the picture, the movie survey that followed in my brain place seemed to cheerily highlight the eye-pleasing houses in which many of my favorite British characters have lived. Especially those populating romantic comedies. In no specific order, I really wouldn’t mind living in any of the following:
1. Colin Firth’s awesome townhouse in “The King’s Speech.” I know he didn’t live here, but it houses the meeting room where him and Geoffrey Rush spent a lot of time curing his endearing stammer. And it had really awesome walls.
2. Will Lightman’s (Hugh Grant) high-tech apartment in “About A Boy.”
3. Any of the houses in “Love Actually.”
4. The Roseville Cottage where Cameron Diaz stays in “The Holiday.”
5. Daniel Cleaver’s (Hugh Grant) flat in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
6. Really any other apartment belonging to a Hugh Grant character because he typically plays the male lead in romantic comedies and male leads in romantic comedies usually come with exorbitantly priced bachelor pads.
In fear of seeming too naïve, I feel I should mention that my knowledge of London isn’t totally informed by rom coms. I swear I know a bit of London’s history. It started with the Romans, and then there were a couple fights and plagues and fires, right? Settle down, dear reader(s), I know more than that. In any case, I shall be reading the “History” section of my Lonely Planet: London book on the plane tonight.
I really hope to keep blogging once I get settled because I know I’ll need an outlet for all the funny new words I’ll be acquiring. And for all the smart history stuff, too. I’m participating in a TV program with the BBC, but will also be attempting to write a TV show and do the theater/museum thing on the side. A visit to my friend who lives in Surrey is also planned, where Number 4 on the above list is located. I can’t wait to pull a Cameron Diaz and wait by the window with my pre-made hot chocolate until a drunk Jude Law comes stumbling to my door asking to see his sister. Based on my thorough research of British slang, I’ve already prepared my response: “Bloody hell, you’re completely and utterly arseholed! I say you had yourself a bender, all right. Get inside before I bite your arm off, grab a blanket, and Bob’s your uncle!”**
He’s going to hate me.
**American translation: “You’re drunk. Now get inside and let’s boogie.”