As a slew of disenchanted Londoners slope off to the badlands of Kent and Hertfordshire, muttering under their breath phrases like ''quality of life" and "can have my own shed now", those of us who are left, wonder if fleeing London is really the answer.
Yes, London is morbidly obese, its bulbous guts overhanging the M25 in parts, and yes, given how it's riddled with all those underground train networks, surely it's only a matter of time before it collapses in on itself like a knackered blancmange. But if the original London is hurtling towards imminent breaking point, why can't we just build a second one — a glorious carbon copy, which irons out all its predecessors faults? Because frankly, if we're going to be forced to leave London, we'd like to leave it for London 2™.
Here, we start mapping out such a metropolis.
"London 2™: it can't be done"
"London 2™? It can't be done" — we've just falsely accused you of spluttering. Guess what: we respectfully disagree.
Pastiches of London already exist the world over; take the unwieldy 131-feet-tall Tower Bridge in Suzhou, China. It might have been accused by The Sun as 'infringing on copyright', but perhaps the tabloid was afraid to admit it's an improvement on the Horace Jones original: after all, his plans never allowed for a dual carriageway and four — count 'em four — turrets. Suck on that, Jonesy.
There's also a rehydrated-and-reformed London Bridge in Arizona, not to mention an entire 'Thames Town' in, yup, China again. The passion and the constructive nous is certainly out there to build multifarious (slightly iffy) cover versions of London landmarks.
And lest we forget that London's original underground transport network has already been syndicated about 160 times globally, while none other than New York City's subway has jumped on the technology used to run it. (The jury's out on whether we'll bother with another cable car.)
Rome wasn't built in a day, but if we pool the world's collective ability of ripping off the best bits of London, we might be able to come up with an ersatz capital in, oh say, a month or two. Provided we can find all the parts.
Where shall we put it?
Admittedly we've got space issues in the UK. While we may have been spaffing out new towns left right and centre during the decades of the New Towns Acts, these days there's barely enough brownfield to swing a Caterpillar — let along build a city of 8 million+ denizens. So where shall we look to build our second capital? How about moving it somewhere that's already has capital credentials. Colchester's a shoe-in for the title — having once been the Roman capital of Camulodunum. There's a castle too, where we could install a secondary royal family (or maybe just some waxworks — who'll spot the difference).
Other former capitals of what's now Britain may also be considered: York, Oxford ... yeah sorry, Colchester, looks like you're the most bulldoze-able.
Otherwise, London 2™ might be better suited to an island of its own — or a cluster of them. The larger and/or inhabited islands of Scotland cover over 4,000 square miles between them; London only covers 607 square miles. That gives us plenty of land ripe to build on — leaving the rest as oversized parks to BBQ/drink Red Stripe in. Green Park will be even greener with envy. We can join all the islands up with a series of replica London bridges — tasteful, like.
And on the dim off-chance the Scots don't go for that option? Well, seeing as it's already got its own Tower Bridge, how about we put London 2™ in Suzhou? In these times of Brexit uncertainty, here's a chance to properly schmooze with the international big boys. Anyway, we're more the ideas people; we'll leave the nuts and bolts to City Hall. So moving on...
How do we market it?
Selling London 2™ to the masses should not prove difficult. Plenty of people want to live in a place called London, but are at the end of their tether with this particular London. Its name alone will ensure London 2™'s desirability, even if it does start life as a some poor sod of a town planner scowling at this article on their phone.
To make doubly sure of its success, we'll also employ the services of the brains who somehow marketed Luton, Stansted and Southend Airports as being in London. Not Oxford London Airport though. No one believes that Oxford London Airport is in London.
Taglines for our second city — and folks, we're brainstorming here — might include:
- London 2: Like the Old London, But Marginally Less Painful
- London 2: It's Almost Affordable
- London 2: Made in China (that's if we go for the Suzhou option)
Will London 2 be as good as London?
What, a fleetingly-thought-through, hastily cobbled together tribute act to one of the world's most historical and complex cities? Almost certainly. Look — there'll be no housing crisis; no transport delays; tracts of green space (if we go with that Scottish option); hilarious parodies of the London Eye and Buckingham Palace.
As for jobs — well that's a self-fulfilling prophecy: think of all the people we're going to need to build London 2™. Step aside, Chancellor, we've got this one.
By 2030, we predict that over 85% of Londoners will have moved out to London 2™. The place will be positively swamped. But it's OK — we've got a great idea how to solve that...
Right, who knows how to set up one of these crowdfunding thingamajigs?