20 21 year olds on living in London now

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What were you doing in the year 2000, eh? Do you like the fact that you can still smoke in pubs? Rocking out at Queens of the Stone Age (unsupported) at Camden Underworld? Basking in the last light of a cool school trip to the Millennium Dome? Use a Jane Norman baby carrier as a handbag? Have a roll of film developed? Buy the ‘Thong Song’ on CD?

Now, while you were doing all that, this batch was busy being born. London’s freshest generation of adults slipped out of the birth canal in 2000, turned 16 as Britain voted to leave the EU and emerged from adolescence in the middle of the fucking pandemic. What does all this do to a person? This is the question we were so desperate to find an answer to that we set out to interview 20 21-year-olds from across the capital about their likes, dislikes, hopes, fears and ambitions.

What we have discovered is a generation that is in some ways exactly as society imagines them (politically astute, social media obsessed, career hungry, exhausted by isolation) but also full of surprises. Take TikTok, it also makes them feel old. Or party. Yes they are in it, despite all the stories that they are non-drinkers and avoid clubs. Or London. Of course, some young people may have fled to the coast and the countryside over the past year, but at least four of our interviewees have moved to the capital in the past six months and all say they are planning to stay.

Maybe you’re 21 and currently call it all ‘very bait’, to which I say, ‘Sometimes your brain gets a little sluggish when you’re old, sorry. But if, like me, you are quickly heading into middle age, please take the following pages as a comprehensive and appropriate guide to London’s youngest adults, all in their own words. Kate lloyd

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