London, I Love You.
I never used to. I moved down here at the age of 27, fast aware that, for me, opportunities were closing down. Had I come down five summers sooner, in the age of Britpop, the world would have been very different. Who would have known? A very different fate could have awaited me.
In the twelve years I have been working here, I have not had a single job based outside of the 0207 dialling code. The past seven years, since I moved out of London – priced out by the illusion of permanent growth by hyperinflation, relaxed lending rules, and insane predatory landlords and Buy-To-Let/Doer-Upper speculators – there has not been a week where I haven't felt like an exile from London, or Birmingham, whatever my home city is these days.
Now, in 2012, I'm facing the fact that I spend half of my waking life in London, and use its every facility every working day : the tubes, the buses, the trains, the venues, the shops, the toilets – all of them I am as familiar with as my hometown. For London is my home town. I just happen to sleep somewhere else.
And for that, I have to watch silently, pretending that what happens in London doesn't bother me. The fact I sleep somewhere else as a financial exile makes me a silent, voiceless recipient of London's Mayor. I have no vote in them.
Even though, The Mayor's decision to raise the cost of public transport by around 24% above inflation since 2008 has added about £100 to my monthly expenditure every month. The Mayor of London is happy to have my money – and the money of the 400,000 commuters who arrive from outside Zone 6 every day. But not our votes. Not our opinions.
So when the Evening Standard begs all to back Boris, I am baffled.
Why? This man has raised the cost of the tube to an eye-watering £4.00 for a single journey on the Tube. The most expensive public transport journey, by foot, in the world, is a single from Leicester Square to Covent Garden.
The cost of a Zone 1 to 3 return has risen to £7.70 unless you have an Oyster Card.
If you come from outside London, and commute to somewhere outside Zone 1-2, the monthly cost for me is a frankly insane £588.30 a month. That's more than a lot of my friend's total, post-tax salaries. Before tax, that's – near enough - a thousand pounds a month.
Before tax, that's £10,000 a year. That is more than my first job.
People are meant to live on less.
So, for the Evening Standard to tell me I should vote for the man who increased the costs by such a frankly unsustainable, and unjustifiable amount, is for The Evening Standard to tell me it doesn't care about me, or about anything but the rich.
Not that it should. I can't vote in the mayoral election anyway. So I don't matter.
Perhaps we should remember what Boris Johnson did when asked last summer about what he was going to do about the riots. When faced with a difficult question, he lied about “venal criminality” and then walked away.
If you can't face difficult questions, and you can't do a difficult job, just walk away.