Category: The moving to London collection

Thrillist has put together a helpful guide to rents in London. The map shows the average monthly rent for a one bedroom flat within a kilometer of each tube station.

Where along the tube can you afford to live?

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You can see full size version of the map here.

London The moving to London collection

This weekend a couple of friends came over to London from Finland. Some of them had been in London before, one of them hadn’t. It got me thinking. What would be the best way to spend a day in London if you’ve never seen the city before? Here is what I would do.

Morning

Start at London Bridge. Check if Borough Market is open and grab breakfast and a coffee somewhere in the bustling food market. It’s worth going early as it can get busy in the afternoon. If it’s closed go to one of the chain cafés around Hay’s Galleria.

When fed and caffeinated start strolling west, follow the Thames along the southbank. Along the way pass The Globe, Tate Modern and the London Eye.

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Eventually the Houses of Parliament will appear on the other side of the river. Cross Westminster Bridge and explore the area. If the queue isn’t too long and you have money in your pocket have a look at Westminster Abbey.

Afternoon

Walk up Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square, passing 10 Downing Street on the way. Have a look at Trafalgar Square and keep heading north on to Charing Cross road. On the way there’ll be a chance to see Leicester Square and its theatres.

At Shaftesbury Avenue turn right and head towards the Seven Dials near Covent Garden. There will plenty of nice places to have lunch around there. I would go to one of the vegetarian places in or around Neal’s Yard.

There are lots of shops around the Seven Dials and Covent Garden. Many of these shops will be the same ones you’ll find on Oxford Street, but they’ll be less busy.

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Spend the afternoon exploring Covent Garden and Soho. Stop for a tea at Maison Bertaux on Greek Street in Soho. They have amazing pastries. If you fancy coffee instead go to Monmouth Coffee on Monmouth Street in the Seven Dials.

Evening

Take the 24 bus from Charing Cross Road to its final stop (The Royal Free Hospital in Kentish Town). From there it’s a really short walk to Hampstead Heath. The bus will go past Camden, which is great to see from a bus window, but less interesting to walk around (unless you’re a 14-year-old with stripy tights).

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Walk up to Parliament Hill at Hampstead Heath, admire the skyline, take a couple of photographs. Stroll around the park and then walk back down to Camden. If the feet feel tired stop and have a green smoothie at Inspiral or a pint at The Lock Tavern.

Take the overground from Camden Junction to Dalston, grab something to eat at The White Rabbit and then go for a drink in the nearby pub Farr’s School of Dancing. On an adventurous night take a bus to Shoreditch and sampel a few cocktails at Callooh Callay.

Top image by Alessia Clauderio all other pictures are mine.

London The moving to London collection Travel

About two years ago I wrote a post about how to move to London. I wrote it because a friend of my mother had a daughter who was moving to London and I thought I’d share what I knew about this on the blog. Back then I had no idea how popular the post would become, that people from all over the internet would find their way to this site, ask questions and offer their own advice. I love what that blog post has become, because everyone who interacts with it remind me of why I moved here in the first place, many share the same passion and love for the city that I have. I didn’t just move to London, I fell in love with the city.

But over the last six months or so doubts have crept in. I look around me and I question if London really is such a good place to move to now. The city has change and my perspective has changed as well. If you’re seriously considering moving to London now there are a couple of things you need to know.

1. This city is becoming very expensive, people spend more than half of their salaries on rent and transport. House prices are going up, rents are going up, one bedroom flats can cost you £2000/per month and that’s before you pay any bills. Affordable areas are being pushed further and further away from the centre.

2. If you move to London to start a well paid job then you will probably enjoy the city. If you’re independently wealthy then you’ll also get a lot out of living here. If you move to London because you’re following a dream, because you want to live freely and creatively, then you’re in for a bit of a let down. See point 1… it’s becoming very, very expensive to live here and that is pushing creative people out.

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3. Why London? This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Why break your back so you can afford to live here when that often means you’re working so hard you can’t really ever enjoy your life in the city. You could have a better work-life balance somewhere else. There are plenty of other great UK cities. Look at Glasgow, Manchester, Brighton, York, Birmingham and Cardiff. If you feel drawn to the UK you don’t have to live in London. If you’re British and you want to move to a big city, London isn’t the be all and end all anymore. According to The Guardian lots of people are moving to Birmingham. If you want to live really cheaply there is the Kent coast, Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs, cities that are now attracting creatives pushed out of London. This is a poor part of the UK and rents are low, like they were in London’s east end in the early 90s, when all the creatives moved in.

4. Why move to the UK at all? There are so many great European capitals to look at, Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, places that can offer you the same things London had a few years back (which is not crazy expensive rents, a creative scene and likeminded people from all over the world).

Maybe I’m writing this because I’m older, because my love affair with London is coming to an end. I still enjoy living here, I still love many things about the city and I still occasionally want to hug myself when I cross the Thames on a bus and whisper “I actually live here”. But mostly the rosy coloured infatuation has faded and I see the city for what it is, expensive and unforgiving. And sometimes I think, wouldn’t life be a lot easier somewhere else.

For more about this
Cool London is dead and the rich kids are to blame
Living in London on a low income – a great break down of living costs in London by the Londonist

Images by Luis Llerena.

London The moving to London collection Thoughts

It’s almost six years since I moved to London. Time flies in this city. Six years ago I stared at the empty walls in my new room and worried about how to fill the space with a life. My new room had a bed and a worn brown carpet. It was cold, abandoned by its previous occupiers, waiting for things, furniture, clothes, postcards, photos, dirty laundry, memories, dust under the bed, duvet covers that need to be changed, a computer whirring away in the corner. I had none of those things. I didn’t even have any friends in the city.

That first night I fought against loneliness and fear. The thoughts and worries followed me around for my first months in London; would I ever make friends, would I ever find my place, would I ever settle, would I make this place my home?

If I could go back in time I would tell myself not to worry, because things have a way of working themselves out if you know what you want and work to get it. But sometimes I wonder if there wasn’t also a bit of luck involved in it all. Was it not luck and fate that pushed me in the direction of people who became good friends? Was it luck and fate that put me and Gerry in the same pub on a warm August night? Life is filled with randomness, but whatever happens we can always act, the more people we speak to, the more likely we are to make friends after all.

Some of you have expressed your worry about making friends after moving to London. Here are a couple of things that worked for me.

Let your fears drive your forward

I had moments of fear and loneliness after I first moved to the city, but these feelings pushed me out there, they helped me out of my comfort zone and forced me to make friends. During my first six months in London I was more socially active than I have ever before been in my life. Being in a new city gave me energy and getting to know new people gave me even more energy. I went to different networking events (mainly in the technology industry) several times a week and met people who would become friends and people who would employ me.

The energy I got from being new in the city and having to put myself out there was unexpected, because normally I’m a bit of an introvert, I prefer a night at home to going out. But somehow the knowledge that I had to make friends and had to create a life for myself in the city if I wanted to stay made it easy and enjoyable to go out and meet lots of strangers.

Find good flatmates

I was lucky to move into a friendly and interesting flat share when I first arrived in the city. My flatmates were helpful and welcoming, they invited me to parties and I got to know their friends (which is how I met Gerry).

Since I moved here to work as a freelance journalist I wasn’t able to make friends through work or by studying so my flatmates became very important for my social life. If you live with people you get on with and if you like their group of friends that can be a great way to start settling into life in the city. Take your time (if you can) to find a flat and flatmates you really like.

Take short courses

I’ve made a some of my closest friends through a few writing courses I’ve taken in the city. There are so many different short courses on offer in London. If you’re not studying already, a good way to meet people is to go on a short course in a subject you’re interested in. You’ll meet likeminded people and sometimes those people might become friends. Good places to start to browse for courses are sites like Hotcourses and Citylit.

Social media and the internet

I used to think I was the sort of person who couldn’t really make friends on the internet, there is something about witty conversations in only 140 characters that make me feel strangely tongue tied. But I have made a few friends thanks to the internet since I moved to the UK. Although most of those either contacted me or were contacted by me through email. Never underestimate the power of a short and friendly email to someone you’ve found online.

Image by Eli DeFaria.

London The moving to London collection

Hello,
I ran across you article about moving to London via Pinterest. I am facinated about your journey. I harbour a deep passion for photography and journalism, so it is easy to see why I was intrigued. I have always wanted to travel, and recently I have been considering trying out London life. However, I am from a small town in Kentucky, USA with no social circle. None of my family or friends have stayed abroad, or out of Kentucky for that matter. Unfortunately, I do not have a college degree either. That has not ruined my dreams of travel though! So I guess my question to you is: how were you able to successfully establish yourself in a new place?
Also, I was wondering how much money would be wise to save up before moving?

Good to hear from you! I’m from a small town as well and had no friends or family in London when I moved here. It was slightly easier for me to move to the UK than it will be for someone from the States though, because I didn’t have to go through the process of getting a visa. If that had been the case I’m not sure if I would be in the UK right now. In the past I’ve sometimes thought about moving to New York, but because I’ve felt more strongly about trying to make it as a freelance journalist and writer, I decided I didn’t want to start jumping through lots of hoops in order to try to get a visa.

I was able to establish myself as a freelance journalist in London because I had already worked as a journalist in Finland for about five years (on and off) and two years full time. This had allowed me to get a few contacts in the industry who trusted me and wanted to buy my stories. I knew the organisation I worked for in Finland didn’t have a stringer in London. When my contract with them ended I came here thinking I would try it out for a few months, seeing if I could make a living from freelancing.

It wasn’t easy then and it still isn’t easy. I’m constantly adapting in order to keep doing it. In some ways freelancing is becoming more and more difficult. Media organisations no longer have the money they had in the past and because a lot of journalists have been laid off as these organisations are trying to cut costs there is a constant stream of new people competing for freelance work.

Having said that there are also more opportunities out there. There is self-publishing, blogging, podcasting – getting an audience and finding ways to earn money online. I’m not just doing freelance journalism anymore, I blog (mainly because I like it, but also to build some kind of profile), I help my husband with his company doing everything from website coding to PR to selling direct to customers at markets and I also I write for a company who runs events for people in the tech and music industry. So even though I started out just doing freelance journalism, I’ve since had to diversify and I think that’s been the case for other freelancers.

What I’m trying to do now is to focus more on creative writing, which is taking a lot of time from my other projects. Because of that I’m not feeling totally established in London anymore… but I’m still here. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not easy, but if you have a clear goal and keep working towards it you will eventually get to where you want to be. If that goal is to, for example, move to a new city and start working in the media industry – write that goal down and then break the journey into several stages. What is the first step you need to take? And then the one after that? Slowly, step by step, you will get to where you want to be.

When it comes to how much money you’ll have to save before you move somewhere new, that totally depends on the place you move to and what kind of work you’ll be looking for. At least three or four months worth of rent + expenses would be a good start.

Good luck with your plans!
Lotta

Image by Luis Llerena.

Journalism London The moving to London collection

This is quite a serious post with lots of links and facts about how to apply for a UK visa. Please scroll on if this isn't what you're looking for.

I get a lot of questions about how to move to the UK from the States. Here is a quick guide to some of the things you need to know and think about if you have to get a visa before moving to the UK. There are plenty of good resources and guides online and getting a visa is a big thing, so I also suggest you do a lot of googling yourself and talk to both embassies and experts before you start the process.

Visas and stuff

Family visas

If you have a grandparent with a European passport you might also be able get one, however this depends on what country your grandparent came from. This isn’t a quick fix and it will most likely be a slow and bureaucratic process. However it can be a good option for those with grandparents from the right European countries.

Here is how to do it:

The European Union has 28 member states (at the moment). Once you know which country your grandparent came from, check with that country’s embassy in your country to find out if you can apply for citizenship and a passport based on your grandparent’s history.

Ehow has put together a check-list of what you need to do next, which is to hunt down lots and lots of papers and certificates.

Find out all the information concerning your European grandparent and gather all documents surrounding her birth and immigration. Obtain your grandparent’s birth records from the records department of the country, city and/or county of her birth if you do not already possess them. If necessary, obtain your grandparents’ marriage certificate and immigration records or a copy of your European grandparent’s green card or passport.

Once you’ve established that you can become a citizen of a European country through your grandparent you can make your application for citizenship, which can take a long time. In Italy, for example, the process can take several years.

Once your citizenship is confirmed, you will be able to apply for a passport, which you can do via the country’s embassy.

More on this

Image via pinterest.

Work

The UK visa system now operates on a points system, which means that it is easier for you to move to the UK if you happen to be the sort of person who the government thinks can do a lot of good in the UK. What this means in reality is that it’s easier to move here if you have a lot of money.

You can get a visa through the Tier 1 route if you’re an entrepreneur, graduate entrepreneur, investor or if you’re exceptional talented.

For everyone else there is the second tier.

These visas must be sponsored by an employer. You can get the Tier 2 General permit if your employer can demonstrate that your job can’t be filled by a local worker. Your employer will apply for this visa before you arrive in the UK, so in order to get this sort of visa you will need to have a job before arriving in the UK.

Also not all employers can sponsor visas. You will need to earn a minimum of £20,500 per year in order to get this work visa in the UK, although there are a couple of exceptions to this rule.

If you are transferring with your existing employer you can get a Tier 2 ICT – inter company transfer visa. That’s the option for you if the company you work for has offices in the UK and would agree to send you here.

Image via April takes photos.

Studying

Studying can be expensive in the UK and the fees are higher for students from non-EU countries than for UK and EU students. If you choose to study here you can get the Tier 4 visa. But when your studies are finished you will need to apply for a different type of visa or move back home.

You can apply for a Tier 4 General student visa if you’re 16 or over and you:

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have enough money to support yourself and and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

How long it will take?
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the start of your course and you should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

How long you can stay?
You can arrive in the UK before your course starts, up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less, up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs has a pretty up to date guide on how long you can stay in the UK on a student visa. But keep in mind that these things keep changing all the time.

You can find out more about Tier 4 visas on the gov.uk website.

There is also a Tier 5 visa for temporary workers with a job offer, participants in the youth mobility scheme, domestic workers in a private household or representatives of an overseas business.

Image via Tom Arber.

Marriage

If you’re married to or if you marry a British or EU citizen you can apply to remain in the UK with family. Now it’s probably only worth doing this if you actually love the person in question and want to get married. The government is cracking down on immigration and “visa marriages” have been a target. Unfortunately sometimes genuine weddings have been gate-crashed by the police. Just something to keep in mind.

Your family member or partner can:

  • be a British citizen
  • have settled in the UK
  • have asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK
  • You may also be able to apply to remain with your child if they have lived in the UK for at least 7 years.

There are some exceptions however. For example if you’re applying for a five year visa you and your partner will need to earn £18,600 per year for you, £22,400 if you have one child and £2,400 for each additional child.

The British government is making it ever more difficult for loved ones to be reunited in the UK in an attempt to crack down on immigration. But as with all of the other options above a good place to start if you want to get a spousal visa is the gov.uk website.

Disclaimer:

I’m not a legal or immigration expert, I’m just a writer typing away at this small website. This post mainly contains links and some (hopefully) useful advice. I suggest you also look for answers yourself and talk to lawyers, government agencies or embassies who might be able to help. Good luck!

Top image by Justin Liebow.

The moving to London collection

About two years ago I found myself sitting on the floor in the flat, crying because a pipe was leaking underneath a sink. There had been builders in the house for several days, sorting things out in our new home, the home Gerry and I would settle in for a few years.

There was a trickle of water running along the floor and I couldn’t keep the tears away. I felt helpless and I realised that this was it. This was my home. This country was now my home. There would be no more moving for a while, no more wide-eyed fascination. The third stage of culture shock was setting in, but I didn’t realise that back then.

Let us rewind a bit further. It’s 2009, I’ve just arrived in London. I breathe in the air at Heathrow and it fills me with a bubbly joy, the sweet, polluted air of London. I rush past the yellow signs to collect my suitcase and I move into my first flat in the city. I spend a year happily riding buses for hours, walking everywhere, even enjoying the tube – because I am finally in London.

For two years my biggest fear is that something will happen and that I will have to move home. I hold on to every little thing that keeps me in London with an iron grip. I count my months in the city. I am totally and utterly in love with the place. I worry that I’ll get ill or that I won’t be able to support myself. I work hard because that means I’ll be able to stay.

Then I meet Gerry, then my life slowly winds itself around this town, then I get married, we move into the flat, the flat becomes a home, Finland feels very far away. And suddenly I find myself longing for home. Not the real country I left behind, but small things like the forest, the clean air, the cold winters and the long summer nights. I miss my family because I realise this isn’t a temporary thing anymore. I have rooted myself in this country. And that’s when the problems start.

It’s said that there are four stages of culture shock.

1. The honeymoon phase

  • Everything about your new home is lovely, amazing, fascinating. It’s the best place ever. You get offended if someone says anything negative about your new home. You have lots of energy, you want to see everything, do everything, talk to everyone. You wake up happy every day because you’ve moved to such a wonderful place. You’re totally in love

2. The negotiation phase

  • Homesickness starts to creep in. Suddenly you notice things about your new home, things you don’t really like. You pick up on cultural differences and they annoy you. You realise that perhaps this isn’t such a great place after all. It’s just another place, with problems and annoying people just like anywhere else. You start missing home and people who really get you.

3. The adjustment phase

  • This is when depression hits you. What’s the point, you think. The love is gone. You feel a bit lost, wondering why you moved in the first place. The magic is gone. You’re floating between two cultures. Going back home isn’t an option, staying feels difficult. You’re numb. Nothing makes you happy.

4. Acceptance

  • You’ve come out on the other side. You know this country now, you know this culture and you’re starting to figure out where you fit in. You will always be different, have a different cultural background, but you have found some kind of middle ground. And suddenly you’re ready to fall in love with the country again, this time accepting its flaws, problems and realness.

I struggled with the adjustment phase. A lot of things in the UK started to annoy me. Why were the politicians so useless? Why did I have to move to country where the majority of people in power have gone to the same private schools? Why do you hardly see any female, black or asian faces in Westminster? Why does the post never arrive? Where is my place in this society? Will I ever be able to settle in the UK? Why does everyone around me only seem to care about money?

For a while my life turned into a dull grey. I wasn’t sure where I was going, I didn’t even know if I wanted to be going anywhere. This new country, my home, had lost its sparkle. I wasn’t in love anymore, but I couldn’t ever see myself leaving.

In this confusion I managed to write a book. I poured my frustration and confusion into Det finns inga britter. I started researching what it meant to be British. I read up on the history of this country, learning there is a long tradition of immigration. I got even angrier realising how some of these immigrants had been treated throughout the centuries. I read about the reality black and asian immigrants were faced with in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, being refused housing and medical care. But even though there were many things that made me angry, I also earned that British culture has been shaped by immigration, going all the way back to Roman times. This country is an amalgamation of different cultures and people, but sometimes the Brits find it easy to forget this.

As I read another Britain started appearing before me. A real country, with real problems. It wasn’t the same country I had moved to back in 2009, but I didn’t mind so much anymore because the ground I was standing on felt solid again. I was starting to see this country like some its citizens was seeing it.

There is a fifth stage of culture shock, the independence stage.

You are yourself again! You embrace the new culture and see everything in a new, yet realistic light. You feel comfortable, confident, able to make decisions based on your own preferences. You no longer feel alone and isolated. You appreciate both the differences and similarities of your new culture. You start to feel at home.

And that’s where I’ve come out. I live here now. In some ways the UK is the country where I’ve become a grown up, I know more about how to run a business here than in Finland, in theory I know how to buy a house here. This is where I pay my taxes. And when I go home there are things I forget, like weighing my vegetables when I go grocery shopping. Small things, but things that root me in one place. Even my annoyance and frustration with this country connects me to it. After all it’s pretty British to complain.

I didn’t think culture shock would affect me. But moving to a new country is a big thing, no matter how well you think you understand that culture. If you find these sort of feelings affecting you, remind yourself that everyone goes through it and that you will come out on the other side, hopefully a little bit wiser.

Image by Luis Llerena.

Britishness London The moving to London collection Thoughts

“Get them on the property ladder by the age of 29 or your children might NEVER be able to buy their own house”, the Daily Mail.

In the UK everyone is expected to own their own home, if you don’t you’re destined to become poor and old, freezing to death in your expensive rental flat because you can’t afford to pay the gas bill.

For many Brits climbing the housing ladder is as much of a cultural mile stone as getting married and starting a family. Buying house after house secures their future. Some imagine they’ll sell their final, very expensive house and then live off the proceeds in their old age. The house is their pension. And there is a cloud of doom hanging over those of us who aren’t able to scrape together the minimum of a £30k deposit for our first home or who aren’t able go to the bank and get a mortgage.

The thing is even though most Brits want to own their own home, it’s becoming more and more difficult to get on the housing ladder. In the late 1990s, the average house in the UK was five times the average salary, now it is 10 times that, and rising. It’s becoming very difficult for “normal” people to buy a house in the UK, especially in and around London, the city that has become my home.

“Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.” What television presenter Kirstie Allsopp would tell her daughter.

The culture of home ownership

I’m from Finland, a country where there is no great stigma placed on those who’re still renting in their forties. Sure it’s nice to have your own place, but it’s not obligatory. It’s also not crazy expensive to buy. And that’s the case in many European countries. Even though buying is cheaper in Germany than it is in the UK only 39 per cent of Germans own the homes they live in, compared with about 60 per cent in Britain.

Because it’s so expensive to buy in the UK many middle class Brits rely on their parents to help them get their first food on the property ladder, some get help with a deposit, others inherit property.

But there are also many Brits whose parents never got on the housing ladder and some who can never scrape together a deposit for a house. They’ll keep renting, sometimes they’ll rent off the British state with its diminishing, dilapidated housing stock. Some will keep renting their whole lives. Home ownership separates one class form the next in this country.

Property is seen as an investment in the UK, it’s a way for the wealthy to get wealthier. In other countries and cultures a house is simply just a home.

My story

I’ve been renting ever since I moved away from home. When I moved to Helsinki to study I rented a studio flat, like almost all of my university class mates – sharing a flat is a strange concept in Finland.

I thought moving to London would mean higher rents, but I’ve been lucky with my flats. The room in my first flatshare was cheap. Then Gerry and I moved in together and renting a studio flat as a couple is cheaper than renting it own your own. But even though I’ve been lucky with the amount of rent I’ve had to pay, I quickly realised the London rental market can be a tough place. Many landlords are unreliable. It’s not unheard of for contracts to finish without much of a warning, flats being sold, re-developed and the tenants moved on. In London Gerry had moved almost once a year before we met. I moved once a year until we moved into our current place almost three years ago.

We’re in a good position today, but even though we have a nice flat and can stay where we are for a few more years, we’ll eventually have to move on. And I keep thinking that one day, maybe, it would be nice for us to own our own house.

I like looking for properties online. Even though no one is thinking about buying, selling or even moving, it’s not unheard of for my mother and I to send each other emails with links to interesting looking properties. House hunting is fun when it’s just an amusing hobby. It’s less fun when you realise you have to move and there aren’t any affordable properties out there.

More info

Image via rnvl’s flickr.

Britishness The moving to London collection Thoughts

Hello World Cup 2014, everyone is talking about you. As I was researching my book “Det finns inga britter“, I stumbled across an interesting theory about why football became such a popular sport in England and then in the rest of the British empire.

David Winner writes in his book Those Feet: A Sensual History of English Football that playing football was encouraged as a way to stop British men from, er, there’s no easy way of saying this… from masturbating.

Winner writes.

Revd Edward Thring, was headmaster of Uppingham School and one of the giants of Victorian education, equalled in importance only by Thomas Arnold of Rugby. In the mid-nineteenth century Thring was a key figure in shaping Victorian ideas about manliness. He was also a pioneer of two of its key motors: organised sport and sexual repression.

His younger brother J. C. Thring helped found one of the significant vehicles for this new manliness: the game of football. Edward was a muscular Christian who turned “weaklings into men”. He also preached a holistic, egalitarian educational doctrine which he called true life … He was obsessed with stamping out the heinous sin of masturbation, which (he was certain) led to early and dishonoured graves.

Apparently Uppingham school wasn’t a very nice place to be a young man, at least not by today’s standards.

Any boy at Uppingham who was found to have committed “self-abuse” was instantly expelled. To maintain an atmosphere of “purity”. Thring encouraged boys to spy on each other. And used sport as a tool in the war against vice.

“Self-pollution” was not only intrinsically vile; it also posed a danger to race and Empire because it was the crucial first step on the road to all other kinds of effeminate and dangerous sensuality. If only boys and young men could be taught not to masturbate, they would grow up chaste and pure and all other sexual evils would disappear.

The Victorians had a strange obsession with masturbation. Interestingly the campaign against so called self-pollution was started by a man who wanted to get more costumers for his brothels, Winner writes.

The idea had first surfaced in a quack French pamphlet in 1710 called Onania. The author believed to have been a brothel-owner trying to drum up business by using scare tactics against a rival form of entertainment. He claimed that masturbation wasted essential bodily fluids and “destroys conjugal affection, perverts natural inclination, and tends to extinguish the hope of posterity”.

The pamphlet was widely translated and for nearly 200 years underpinned a quietly burgeoning medical and quasi-medical literature on the subject. Only in Britain did a full-scale moral panic erupt. Doctors were partly to blame.

It was widely believed that masturbation had the following “side effects” – pale complexion, emaciated form, slouching gait, clammy palms, glassy or laden eyes, averted gaze, or worse insanity and death!

So what does all of this have to do with football? Well it was used to turn these British weaklings into real men.

Thring and other schoolmasters started a radical new ideology – athleticism – a motor for the muscular new imperialism, for militarism and conformism. Suppression of sexuality, individuality – an even thought itself – were essential elements of this process, and were encoded in the games themselves.

What I find interesting is that this fear of masturbation seem to have stemmed from a deeper, almost subconscious fear that the British empire was failing because British men were no longer “real men.” It’s all pretty Freudian.

One key fear at the time was that British power was faltering. Ironic because the late nineteenth century appears now as the zenith of British power, wealth and social stability, but that’s not how it felt at the time. The Victorians were gripped by a sense of dread, seeing not stability, but decay; they felt their world crumbling. Some of this anxiety reflected geostrategic changes … from the 1870s America and Germany started catching up – industrially, economically and as imperial rivals, but the British problems went deeper still.

In almost every cultural register of the time there is a sense of Britain under attack or threat … there were massive problems with the British economy in the 1870s, and it’s linked to anxiety about the Empire. There were new anxieties about sexuality too, shifting boundaries between men and women and emergence of the “new woman” phenomenon: women living alone, wearing bloomers, riding around on bicycles and reading “suspect” novels. It was an awful lot for the British to come to terms with psychologically says gender historian John Tosh. And since it’s men who are supposed to defend the Empire and run the show, it was clearly all to their discredit. In some sense it was seen as their weakness.

Winner also writes about the English way of playing football and perhaps offers up a theory of why the English aren’t normally World Cup winners.

The game is and has always been “a man’s game”. English footballers are expected to display Lionheart qualities: strength, power, energy, fortitude, loyalty, courage. As for delicacy, cleverness, sleight-of-foot, imagination and cushion-slicing … well that’s the sort of thing we prefer to leave to foreigners.

The idea is rooted in what the Victorian’s called “manliness” and it lies at the heart of all that’s best and worst in English football. It accounts for the energy and power which make the English league exciting. It helps explain why English football rarely produces creative artists (and usually treats badly the ones who do emerge). And it provides an insight into the root cause of England’s forty years of hurt in the World Cup.

Those Feet: A Sensual History of English Football is a fascinating book, it’s filled with interesting stories about sexual repression and sport in Victorian Britain. I don’t want to show you all of my research as it feels a bit wrong to share so much of the author’s own work. But if you find this kind of stuff interesting I recommend you check out the book.

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How to survive on less than £10/day in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

London is an expensive city. I once did an interview in Chelsea and had to cough up £6 for a black coffee, this is an area now known for a reality show about rich kids. London attracts the mega-rich and there are parts of town which mainly cater to these people. Some of the world’s most expensive real estate can be found here, it’s possible to spend five figures in a restaurant, there are streets lined with super-luxe cars.

But what about those of us who don’t really want to spend a lot? I’ve been thinking. Is it possible to live cheaply in London? Is it possible to travel here as a tourist and not spend more than £10/day, still have a good time and experience most of what they city has to offer? I think so.

Let’s do a little thought experiment.

1. Couch surf

Firstly you don’t really want to pay for accommodation as that will start adding up really quickly. If you don’t have friends in the city with a sofa to sleep on, then you’ll have to find a stranger who’s willing to take you in. Luckily there is couchsurfing, get acquainted with the website, make friends and you’ll end up meeting some interesting people in real life.

Potential cost: £0

Image via craice’s flickr.

2. Walk everywhere

Public transport can be expensive in London. To avoid this use your feet. If you stick to one area it’s pretty easy to walk to most places. If you don’t mind scary traffic and an initial expense cycling is also a good option. If you need to take public transport the bus is the cheapest option.

Potential cost: £0

cooking Image via Jana Martish.

3. Don’t spend money on food

If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen buying food and cooking it yourself will be a lot cheaper than eating out. However if you don’t want to buy food at all you can always join students and queue up for the Hare Krishna rickshaw project which hands out free meals around London. One rickshaw can be found at the LSE campus.

Potential cost: £0-10

Image via pinterest.

4. Don’t spend money on drink

When I first moved to London I unwittingly stumbled across a great way to get drinks for free. I’m not talking about going on lots of dates and letting the other person pay (I’m too Nordic for that). I went to lots of networking events in the tech industry. I was trying to meet people and find work as a freelance tech journalist, but I also ended up having a lot of fun and getting slightly tipsy. At almost all of these event there is an open bar sponsored by a tech company.

I’m sure technology networking events aren’t the only places where you can grab a free drink. Private views are also a good bet. Find a local event by doing some googling or checking out sites like Meetup.

Potential cost: £0

Image via instagram.

5. Enjoy all the free attractions in the city

London is actually a great place if you don’t want to spend much money. The museums and art galleries are free, and if the weather is good there are some awesome parks and open spaces to hang out in all over the city.

Potential cost: £0

Image via designios flickr.

6. Don’t spend any money on getting an office

If you have to work or use the internet, you can bring your laptop and head over to places like The Barbican or the British Library. You can easily spend a whole day using their free wifi, working away on your laptop. There will be plenty of people doing exactly the same thing. Bring your own sandwiches, but perhaps buy a tea or a coffee as a way to say thank you for using the space.

Potential cost: £0-5

Other resources

What to do with all the money you might save? Go on adventures!

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