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London vs New York: which city is better?

Posted at 4:30 pm, March 11, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment

London has better theatre, more cinema screens and more fun than New York. But a recent survey by Hotels.com claimed that they have the best nightlife on Earth, with London in third place. Pshaw! says Rob Orchard. There’s not a single area where the Big Apple beats the Big Smoke – except, perhaps, in the insanity of its trendwear…

We’ve got… Notting Hill Carnival

You’ve got… Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

London’s biggest party is a riotous celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture, which turns W11 into a pungent bacchanal of ritzy costumes, curried goat and embarrassed coppers making half-arsed attempts at samba. New York’s is an extended Disney Channel pitch session of floating cartoon adverts sponsored by a department store. Three hours of watching SpongeBob SquarePants dangle over Manhatten does not a festival make.

We’ve got… Reasonable tips

You’ve got… Tableside extortion

Finish your meal in London and you can add 12 percent to the bill if service was good. In New York you’re looking at 15 percent minimum, even if your waiter treated you like an insect and there were pubes in your soup. In fact, anything less than 20 percent will be taken as a personal insult by the waitstaff, who will label you a table-blocking tightwad and sneer you off the premises. Advantage London.

We’ve got… Relaxed licensing laws

You’ve got… Officious barmen

In London, ID checks are generally applied if you look under 18, which makes 19-year-olds feel cool. In New York, however, they are applied if you look under 40, which makes 39-yearolds feel like twats and leads them to shout things which they later regret, like: ‘Are you kidding? Look at my fucking hairline/crow’s feet/photo of my grandchildren!’ When you do finally secure a round of drinks from the jobsworth barkeep, you are then, naturally, obliged to give him a massive tip. Un sodding-believable.

We’ve got… Regular hipsters

You’ve got… Mental hipsters

Hipstering is fun when practiced with a modicum of restraint – as in Hackney, with its legion of NHS glasses-wearing kooks equipped with half-shaved heads and deepneck Ts. In New York’s Williamsburg district, however, hipsters have lost all sense of proportion. Venture into the ’hood and you’ll find adult humans sporting manbags, headbands, fluorescent sombreros and Kitchener ’taches, crossing the road on pogo sticks while playing Tetris on their Game Boys. All ironically.

We’ve got… ‘The Boris’

You’ve got… ‘The Bloomberg’

Mayoral hairdos are not vital to the wellbeing of the citizenry, but they can be good for morale. London gets top marks with ‘The Boris’, an electrified haystack that reflects the chaotic exuberance of the capital. Meanwhile, NYC trails behind with ‘The Bloomberg’, a joyless barnet whose central message seems to be, ‘Could you keep the noise down? I’m actually trying to get some work done and I’ve asked nicely once already.’

We’ve got… The Knowledge

You’ve got… No knowledge

Your iconic yellow cabs are very jaunty, New York, we’ll give you that much. Jauntiness, however, does not compensate for the fact that most of their drivers have no earthly idea how to convey passengers to key destinations. Thanks to a tortuously arcane training programme of road-based rote learning, meanwhile, our cabbies are rolling ‘A-Z’s. And we’re pronouncing that second letter as ‘zed’, not ‘zee’, BTW.

We’ve got… Saucy street names

You’ve got… Streets with no names

London has street names to conjure with: Baker and Harley, Threadneedle and Regent, Jermyn and Fleet. It also has names to titter at: Cock Lane and Cumming Street, Penistone Road and Arse Avenue*. New York’s streets, meanwhile, are a dismal grid of ascending numerals, devoid of poetry and double entendre. It makes navigating the city simpler but much less chucklesome. *NB: ‘Arse Avenue’ doesn’t actually exist. Could, though.

We’ve got…Free culture

You’ve got…Vulture culture

Entry to New York’s Museum of Modern Art? That’ll be $25, please. Entry to Tate Modern? That’ll be no pounds, please. May we also draw your attention to the Guggenheim ($22) versus the National Gallery (nowt) and the American Museum of Natural History ($19) versus the Natural History Museum (£90! Nah, just joshing, it’s free too!).

We’ve got… Danny Boyle

You’ve got… Woody Allen

Danny Boyle became London’s favourite resident after organizing the Olympic Opening Ceremony. But what if it had been left to New York’s favourite resident, Woody Allen? Forget Boyle’s representation of the rise of the factories. An Allen opening would see a neurotic Isambard Kingdom Brunel fail to get behind the Industrial Revolution, opting instead for some self-analysis and an affair with a sexy teenage suffragette. Three hours of bleak musings about entropy followed by a mournful clarinet solo would ensue.

We’ve got… Summer tippling

You’ve got… Buzzkill parkies

What’s nicer than a summertime drink? And where better to engage in this marvellous pursuit than Hyde Park, whose jolly picnickers take the edge off with – according to organisational ability – chilled jugs of Pimm’s or lukewarm stubbies? Meanwhile, in New York, thanks to a ban on alcohol, visitors to Central Park are condemned to prohibition. Denied the joys of a snifter on the turf, they must restrict themselves to overpriced fizzy water, or a double-shot cappuccino for the hedonists. We booze, you lose.

And if you still don’t know which you prefer, here’s an infographic of London vs New York in numbers. Which city do you love most? Comment below.

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