The Metropolis

The five emotional stages of becoming a Londoner. What stage are you at?

Mike Pollitt | Monday 4 November, 2013 08:39

Image: ‘Victoria’s Tears’ by Gary Knight

The Kübler-Ross model for facing the reality of death holds that someone diagnosed with a terminal illness will experience five stages of emotional reaction: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Ever since Homer Simpson ran through all five stages in 10 seconds flat, this serious, scientific model has misused in idiotic, ill-informed pop culture parodies by unoriginal, second-rate humour pedlars.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to Snipe’s wholly original, rigorously researched, five stages of becoming a Londoner model!

Which of these stages best describes YOU?

Stage 1: Anxiety
It’s a common misconception that the reason people come to London in the first place is hope. For at least one class of arrivals – young, educated British migrants – this is untrue. The impelling force driving these people here is fear. Their emotional state upon arrival is one of stomach-gnawing anxiety. Fear of missing out, fear of failing in their career, fear of ending up a nobody in their nowhere provincial town, these fears throb inside many young Londoners like cancers on their hearts. More than anything else, this fear is the driving force that makes people DO THINGS. Without anxiety, there would be no ambition, no effort, no movement. Without the fears of its inhabitants, there would be no city here at all.

Symptons: Frenetic, unsustained dating. Frenetic, unsustained creative side projects. Frenetic, unsustained drinking.

Stage 2: Recklessness
A little green thing called Yoda once said that fear leads to anger, anger to leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. But since he sold out and began appearing in adverts for Vodafone, many of the guru’s early statements have had to be reassessed. It turns out that Yoda was wrong about fear. A young Londoner’s fear and anxiety give way not to anger, but to recklessness. One day they wake up and realise they aren’t lost in a strange land far from home. Instead, they’re the guest of honour at an all you can eat sin buffet. If recklessness can be learnt, and it can, then London is one of its greatest teachers.

Symptoms: Frenetic, sustained sexual adventures. Frenetic, sustained substance experimentation. Frenetic, sustained drinking.

Stage 3: Smugness
If soap operas have taught us anything, it’s that a recklessly misspent youth must inevitably be ended by a tragic comeuppance. In real life, however, a reckless youth is more often followed by getting away scot free to enjoy a smug middle age. This emotional stage is traditionally associated with marriage, children and owning your own period property, although the last of these is now beyond the reach of anyone under 50. Being smug about your rented maisonette doesn’t have quite the same cache.

Symptons: Having savings. Tutting at reckless friends. Getting into craft beer.

Stage 4: Acedia
Acedia might sound like the name of a private waste management contractor, but it is in fact a very useful and interesting emotional state to know about. For Acedia lies somewhere beyond laziness, beyond listlessness, beyond the most soul-sapping Sunday hangover you’ve ever experienced. In a state of acedia not only do you not care about anything in the world – you don’t care that you don’t care. Acedia is looking your smug, self-satisfied mush in the mirror, and glimpsing the void at your very core.

Symptoms: Choosing nights alone with Take Me Out repeats on ITV Player. Going for long lonely walks across the city, pausing only to gaze blankly into the waveless black eddies of the remorseless, impenetrable Thames. Not caring about craft beer. Not caring about any beer. It’s really that bad.

Stage 5: Escape
This stage need not imply physical flight, although wanting to get away from the noise, the dirt, “all these fucking PEOPLE”, is not an uncommon desire. You don’t have to be setting up your own pig farm in Suffolk to be mentally fleeing the city you came looking for in the first place. Those dreams, those fears, all that trying, what were they all for? You thought you wanted everything London had to offer. But perhaps, in the end, that was too much world at once.

Symptoms: You’ve been thinking…that provincial town you moved here from…it wasn’t so bad, was it?

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