I’m a Londoner with chest pain, I really should see a doctor, I really should leave London

I’m a Londoner with chest pain, a few months ago I was running when I felt this sharp pain in my chest, I instinctively bent over, and then decided to walk home. I haven’t run since.

I really should go to the doctors but I’m pissed off, because the doctor will probably tell me that to get better I’ll need to leave polluted London, and I can’t, well I can, but is anywhere else really that much better?

In the 1950s there was a great smog, the fusion of London’s coal powered pollution and early morning fogs, engulfed the whole city. People collapsed in the street, visibility was reduced to a few yards.

When I arrived in London I was under the impression that the air in London had improved somewhat thanks to a raft of EU regulations and the decline of coal power and the manufacturing industry.

More fool me, London. “The UK supreme court two months ago held that our air was in breach of the EU air quality directive. Our air is a killer. It makes you sick and it’s illegal.” so said London MP Sadiq Khan.

I can feel it killing off my lungs everyday. American tourists are fascinated by the black bogies they have to pick out of their nostrils at the end of each day. I swear I’m going to be one of those statistics, the death from pollution ones, not the bogey ones.

In April 2014 an epidemic of chest stress, constriction and suffocation, of the like I’m experiencing now, spread across the capital. Saharan sands swept over the southern reaches of Britain, giving a fine coat to vehicles and buildings. The African dust combined with exhaust fumes and fog, to create a palpable orange haze, smogs so bad school children were forbidden from playing outside those with chest and heart conditions were advised to stay indoors and those determined to go about their everyday business had coughing fits and received angry looks from people on the tube

I’m assuming most of it is due to the cars producing a poisonous cocktail of carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons in which the rest of us have to reside and breathe. What is the sense in trying to recreate the atmospheric content of Venus on Earth? Jesus, what is the point?

“Some reckon that the airplanes passing overhead don’t help either.

It’s not just the effect that it has on my lungs.

I’m imprisoned by this shit, we’re imprisoned by this shit.

I can’t go for a walk anywhere without having to traverse several dirty fat roads.

Then you’ve got these horrible places like Clapham Common, which look great on paper. Oh look, loads of green space! But when you get there you find the grass is criss-crossed by roads and traffic, it’s disgusting.

The buildings and facades are all fuzzed and scuzzed by vehicular particulate and other types of muck of undetermined origin.

Come back environmental campaigners of the 1990s.

I used to fucking hate car users, they’re the quintessential representation of the self-centred short-termist human. I’d still like to see cars put out of action.

Ken Livingstone was on the right tracks, before bully boy Boris set things back for the NIMBYists and petty bourgeois.

At the very least we should put the whole lot underground. They’ve done that in the centre of Madrid, and very pleasant it is a result, though its bankrupt the Council.

Meanwhile I should really make that appointment with the doctor.


Press Association (2015) ‘Poisoned’ air killing residents near Heathrow, says John McDonnell, The Guardian.

London pollution: heart disease and asthma sufferers should ‘stay indoors’, says Public Health England, video, The Guardian, 2nd April 2014.

Air pollution: England and Wales hit by first day of smog, as it happened: Maximum levels of air pollution sweep large swathes of England and Wales after powerful dust storm in the Sahara, The Guardian, 2nd April 2014.

Ian Sample, 2nd April 2014, What is causing the UK’s high levels of air pollution? Pollution originating in the UK and Europe has combined with dust from the Sahara to create particularly unhealthy conditions, the Guardian.


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