Our crazy Big Apple – why I just love it

A report out today shows that thousands of the middle-classes are deserting the capital. But they should relish it, not flee to the country

Published in the Evening Standard 24 August 2006

Two weeks on holiday with the kids and certain refrains are stuck in my head. The entire back catalogue of the Wiggles for a start and, like plenty of parents, the repeated incantation, ?Are we there yet?? But there?s one more line, offered by my five year old son, which has stayed with me. ?When are we going back to England??

Nothing unusual in that, you may think. Except that we WERE (ital) in

England ? Cornwall, to be precise. Yet to my son, born and raised in

London, it looked and felt like a different country.

And he might not be wrong. New statistics out today are expected to show that London has grown almost into a state of its own. While many parts of the country are hollowing out, their population ageing and birth rate falling, today?s data are likely to confirm London?s place as the biggest city in western Europe.

Numbers are not all that set London apart. Yes, the clich