Some readers may know that my husband and I lived in the UK for a time. After being there for a short time we realized we did not want to raise a family there, but it took several years before we actually made it back to North America. It's a fun place to visit. Rural England is beautiful and the people tend to be very friendly folk. Living in London (UK) felt like the we were in the centre of the universe, more particularly it was like living where civilized and uncivilized meet (in say, Regents Park or outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square) daily.
The UK has been in the news quite a bit over the past few weeks. (Rotherham, Jihadi John, Scottish referendum, the NHS). Forces at play in all of these stories are why we left. If you live in the UK and you have lots of money (and I mean lots because my husband was doing really well there and loved his job, but it was not enough) you can isolate yourself in a little cocoon and pretend that none of this stuff is going on. For most people this is not possible.
In a nuthsell - these are four things that convinced me we had to get out:
-one of my friends was told (when pregnant) to bring some pillows with her to the hospital in case they could not find a bed for her to deliver her baby in (also on another occasion I was diagnosed with a broken leg, when I in fact had nothing of the sort)
-celebrating outside Finsbury Park Mosque on the anniversary of 9/11 (couple this with the 7/7 bombings)
-realizing (after working in them) that I could never, ever send my child to a public school in London (when you see a small child coming to school, clearly the victim of physical abuse, and your colleagues say "oh yeah, a lot of the parents 'round here are quite violent" you know there is a problem)
-watching tens of thousands of hateful people marching through Central London screaming for the obliteration of Israel and jihad on America (this was in 2009, not last month)
We did have some great times there, but only because we always knew we were leaving. What made me most convinced we could not stay were the discussions I had with security personnel. Two in particular. One day I was chatting with a diplomatic protection officer working at one of the embassies in London. He told me he could not understand why North Americans were moving to London when he and most of his colleagues were desperately wanting to get to North America. Another friend worked in security at the US Embassy (but I honestly have no idea exactly what he did because he couldn't discuss it). He also told me that without the perks of working at the Embassy (ie. what was provided for his family) there was no way he would stay in the UK with his kids.
And so, there you have it. London will always have a special place in my heart but I have no desire to move back. Although these days it seems many places in North America are becoming more and more like London.