At times, I have strong visuals of London. I remember sunlit roads, or aspects of buildings. Today I happened to remember the approach to a restaurant that my ex-wife and I used to go to almost every weekend. Shepherd's Bush, parking the car, crossing the road, the interior, ... Fragments of visuals from the many scenes that have been imprinted over the years.
I listen to a piece of music and it brings back the spirit of the people who live in London, with all their nationalities. But especially the youthful, trendy variety who made a point of going out to the cool places. Chilled out music, glasses of something or other, cups of coffee, people standing outside pubs talking loudly, puffing cigarettes. There is a certain quality to London's distance: Nobody knows you and nobody wants to, and yet somehow we're all party to the same culture, the same society.
I think of London when I want to go out in Cairo. I find the choice and variety limiting, here. My friends' priorities, their talking-points, ... ugh ... suffocating sometimes. And, even if I did go out in London and come back empty many a time, and lonely too, sometimes seething and bitter at this coldhearted city, still the London I spidered (like google) was a London of ideas, aspirations and endeavours.
Even though age and appearances do matter in the UK, there are lots of 40+ year olds wandering the streets, wearing the same sorts of clothes as the younger people, and enjoying life similarly - with adjustments. But in Cairo, one feels ridiculous if one does not act one's age. I am 38 (still!) and I am constrained already.
London life is indulgent - especially when you earn a good living and have made peace with the indignity of public transport. You tend to have money to be in nice-looking spots, eat out at new restaurants, meet lots of people, dress well, buy books, attend plays, support new acts, hang out, ...
I miss London, but I am sure when I go back it will be the same. Anyone can plug in. In fact, long after I am gone it will still be the same: a hub.