Wellington’s Got No Sole

The UK’s Daily Mail has come out with a very interesting feature on the ‘best cities in the world’ poll.

Martin Samuel,  absolutely, positively puts the boot into Wellington and in the process calls into question the validity of these types of surveys, exposing just how vapid some of these places (and the compilers of such lists) really are:

“Scoring high: Wellington in New Zealand has come in at No 12 in a poll of the best places to live in the world. How is a little bit more of a mystery

“A while back I was in Wellington, New Zealand. Blowing a gale, tipping it down, but the locals seemed pleasant enough.

Then England beat them at rugby and it all turned nasty. Snarling taxi drivers, sour-faced bartenders – the newspapers took it particularly badly.

The fascinating aspect was the hatred,’ wrote the Sunday Star-Times. ‘We don’t like them and they don’t like us.’

Really? New Zealand? What, has the lamb run out or something? I must have slept through the let’s-get-the-Kiwis meeting.

Anyway, by the following night the caravan had left Wellington, but I had given myself an extra 24 hours to overcome jetlag and look around.

That didn’t take long but, no matter, because I had booked a table at the Chinese restaurant the guidebook claimed was the best in the city, arguably the country.

Relative proximity to Asia gives the Antipodes a head start on exotic cuisine. Sydney’s Chinatown is wonderful. You can’t book a table at The Flower Drum in Melbourne for weeks, and with good reason.

The best Chinese restaurant in Wellington? It wouldn’t have been the best Chinese restaurant in Romford. I had a better one in the High Street when I lived in Billericay.

I trudged back to the hotel and turned on the TV,  which was showing – in lieu of a test card – school rugby. I’m not making this up.

They call New Zealand the land of the long white cloud. It would have to turn into the land of the long white line to keep me interested. I’d end up doing three grams of the stuff daily, just to stay awake.

Then, this week, I saw a list of the best cities to live in worldwide. Wellington, number 12. London, 39. Tokyo, 40. Barcelona, 44. New York,49.

I mean, are you kidding me?

I don’t know who compiles this information, but I’m guessing he doesn’t get out much, considering Zurich ranks number two. First time I was in Zurich, we asked the hotel to recommend a restaurant.

‘There are restaurants down there,’ we were told, with a vague gesture.

‘Yes, but which one is the nicest?’

‘They are all as good as one another.’

This went on in useless cyclical fashion for a minute or more, until one felt compelled to return, armed, and say: ‘Look, pal, the war’s over. This neutral thing must stop. Now, for the last time: where is the best f***ing restaurant?’

Top of the list is Vienna. Lovely city, Vienna. I lived there for the best part of a month in 2008. Rode the U-Bahn, walked the streets, saw the sights. Paid through the nose to get into every single one.

That is what gets me when people criticise London or the cost of exploring it.

London is free. The best of it, anyway. The galleries, the museums, the parks. There is no place like it.

We spend so much time listening to missives from ‘Broken Britain’ that we have stopped appreciating what a privilege it is to live in a country that even in recession genuinely values culture for the masses.

London’s the rip-off capital of the world, we are told. Well, yes, if you are the type of twerp who comes to town and heads straight for the queue of airheads outside Madame Tussauds.

But you can walk around the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, the Tate Modern, study the greatest artistic achievements of mankind and the cost will be nothing, nothing, nothing and nothing. Plus nothing to get in the British Museum.

People were cursed by mummies to bring you these treasures.

I’ve been to almost all of the cities in the top 20 and there’s not a spark of life in most of them. Bland Eurozones built for the families of businessmen; the world’s most sanitised capitals; Canada. This might be some person’s idea of quality of living, but it is not mine.

I’m sure the trains run on time in Frankfurt, the infrastructure in Luxembourg is second to none, and Ottawa has appeal far beyond its freezing rain.

But it takes more than that to make a habitable city. It takes a decent lemon chicken for a start.

Hoopla over a hopeless cause

A hoopla stall owner in Blackpool has been nicked for breaching gambling laws by making his game almost impossible to win. No surprise there.

Forensic scientists said the blocks were tilted at such an angle the chances of success were 2,622-1. Really? That good?

Now, here’s the astonishing part. One bloke lost £1,200 to this enterprise. Was he simple? Was he drunk?

I mean, after the first £50 goes down the toilet, you really have got to want that dangerously assembled Taiwanese soft toy to keep going.

And, no offence to our premier seaside resort, but if you’ve got £1,200 to spend on hoopla… couldn’t you afford somewhere a little more upmarket than Blackpool this summer?

So, yes, the stall holder was a crook, but one cannot help thinking that here was a customer who was going to get separated from his fortune one way or another.

(Actually, the punter later told the court he didn’t care about the money as he had recently been contacted by a Nigerian chief who was anxious to deposit £5m in his account for complex personal reasons, and all he had to do was forward his complete bank details. He asked to be excused as he was hurrying home to process this transaction without delay.)”

His remarks about New Zealand are borne out by a recent poll conducted on the UK MSN Travel website in which the readers voted New Zealand as the most boring place on earth link

And if that’s not enough to convince you take a look at what Kiwis say about their own country in our “What Kiwis Say About NZ” pages in the toolbar above.

Enough said