After a raft of eulogies on city living (Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, Andrew Marr’s Megacities), Nature magazine has sought to redress the balance by examining the ‘city living is not natural and therefore must be harmful’ school of thought. A study seems to say that the stresses of city living affect your brain and could explain the higher incidence of mental health in cities as opposed to non urban areas (cited in The Guardian). Certainly a recent to visit to Paris seems to bear this out. Within half an hour, I had spent a fruitless 20 minutes trying to recharge my SFR phone in an SFR shop (which turned out to be ‘pas possible’), recoiled in horror at a horrendous queue in the supermarket, witnessed a spitting ‘putain de merde’ exchange between shop vendor and customer, and had my suitcase kicked off the metro because it was in someone’s way. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris. But the city is schizophenic, a crazy mix of all that is good and bad about city life. The study might offer an explanation for why Paris may be be more aggressive than similar cities like New York and London: apparently stress levels are affected by how in control of your life you feel. And with job insecurity at panic levels in France (meaning people cling onto jobs they hate), maybe therein lies the explanation.