‘Capital of the world’ means nothing if only the wealthy can afford to live in it
A group of us, mostly metropolitan types, found ourselves in a public house in Hull city centre last weekend. I ordered a round of drinks: two pints of bitter, a pint of lager, a large glass of white wine and a pint of lime juice and soda. I got out £30 from my wallet, as I'm used to London prices. The barmaid leaned over to me and asked me for £9.40. No, you've made a mistake, I told her. She hadn't. That's what this round of drinks costs in a very nice pub in Hull, with a pool table, cheese cubes and crackers on the bar, and where they play an eclectic mix of relatively obscure Ian Dury songs and country and western standards on the sound system.
Back in the capital, I went to the pub next to my office in Soho and asked how much that round of drinks would cost. Guess what the answer was. £20.60! Yes, more than twice what I'd paid in Hull.
It came as no great surprise to me, therefore, to learn the next day that, according to a reputable survey, London is now the world's most expensive city, taking over that dubious mantle from Hong Kong. It is now twice as pricey to live in as Sydney and four times more than Rio de Janeiro. Hull, sadly, doesn't figure in the list of comparisons.