I must say that the question took me somewhat off-guard. It is not as if it was the first time I had been asked to support a personal opinion, nor was it the first time that I was asked to give evidence for a vague feeling, but it was the circumstances under which I was being asked for the supporting evidence that made me stop and think. "Why do I like it over here so much?" The question was raised last night when I made my brief stop off at the pub on my bike ride.
My route, as is more-or-less standard now took me downstream along the Thames to Kingston and then across the Kingston Bridge along the north and east sides of Bushy Park to Hampton Wick and then through the park to Hampton Court (where I usually stop for a diet coke and a chat with whoever happens to be there - okay, some times I'll stop for an ale or three...) along the A308 back to the river and then the A309 to Embercourt Road and then back roads back to Thames Ditton.
I was sitting at the bar and chatting with one of my friends who works at the bar when one of the other patrons at the mar noticed that I had an American accent. "You're an American!" she exclaimed. "My sister-in-law is here from the states..." Fearing that this was about to turn into one of those "You're from Denver, do you know my cousin, Fred?" moments, I took another sip of my drink.
"Have a pleasant visit." She said as she gathered her order together and headed out to the beer garden. I completed my chat with my friend and headed off to get back on my bike and head home.
On my way through the beer garden, the woman asked me over to her table and introduced me to her sister-in-law and we exchanged a few minutes of pleasantries. It turns out that she is over here visiting. She lives in California, but used to live in Denver, many years ago. I shared that I live in Lakewood but am currently living in Thames Ditton and that I have been here most of the year. She commented that I must like it to be willing to stay all year. I admitted I did and her sister, the local asked the question.
"Denver must be a lovely place! What is it about London that you like so much?"
I guess it is a fair question and it is a hard one to answer. It is everything! I like the fact that I have some excellent friends here. I like the fact that one can survive here without the absolute need to have a car. I like the fact that unless I slip and use a word or phrase that has inherently American roots (requiring the American cultural background to understand it) I seldom get people asking me what I mean. (They speak English here!)
On the whole, people are friendlier here. It is just comfortable here. Granted, I have some very dear and wonderful friends back home that should the opportunity arise to move here I will miss dearly, but I am pretty sure that I would enjoy living here permanently should the opportunity arise.
So that is it, I guess. I like it here because I do. So there!
I hope wherever today finds you it is some place that you like to be!
Don Bergquist - 23 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK