The longing for London has felt amplified lately.
London is where my kids grew up, where I grew up (because at 25 years old, I wasn’t as grown up as I thought I was), where so many memories were made, where I first really started to be brave enough to become a real person.
London is a feeling.
A constant buzz in the air.
A deep seeded knowledge that no matter where you step foot, you are never alone. Every inch of space is packed to the brim with human energy:
- that *cough* you hear at 2am through the wall you share with your neighbour
- that plane full of passengers that flies over your house at regular intervals – an occurrence so common place to you now that you stop hearing and feeling it’s rumbling reverberate through you
- a steady stream of people walking by the front of your terraced house at all waking hours and
- an uncanny ability to naturally jumble into incoherence the words spoken by neighbours sitting in their gardens – your own back garden being enclosed on all sides by a patchwork of teeny excuses for ‘a bit of green’ amongst the concrete jungle
London, a place where you never walk at ‘normal’ speed through the streets, always hustling and bustling bound for somewhere or someone important…and on that rare occasion when you have plenty of time to get where you’re going, you stand adamantly to the right to let passers by march on at ‘London speed’ to your left.
I miss the Barbican with it’s curated collections of films, it’s large scale events in the Hall and it’s more niche events in the Pit. I miss the ‘Screen Talks’ with directors, creators and actors in the films we devoured. I miss those rare gems of cinema like: Greed (a 1924 silent film, screened with a man down the front playing the original score on the piano) and J’accuse (a 1919 French silent film with scenes shot on the actual battlefields of WWI in 1918) with it’s epic ‘walk of the dead’ scene of a village’s fallen men returning one last time…
I miss bundling up the kids and heading for our nearest tube station bound for the Barbican or free events in parks around the city. I miss our yearly tradition of searching through and picking our ‘Kids Week in the West End‘ events in June for the coming August. I miss the joy of nabbing my favourite ‘cheap seats‘ at various theatres ahead of time, with my honed expertise at knowing which theatres had the seats with the best views for the best price (eg. a seat for £20 right next to a seat for £50).
I miss British Summers with their events in the parks, Brits shirtless and sunbaking when it manages to hit 20 degrees and the overall hum in the air of unbridled joy that there’s a slight reprieve in the gray malaise that is 8 months of the year in London. I miss bundling up in a warm hat, scarf and gloves to go for a walk and watching the canals ice over and the icy streets turn quickly into trodden on sludge. I miss those few glorious days every couple of years when London has a proper couple of snow day – you might even be able to rustle up a half decent snow man (sometimes only enough for a mini man…but he counts all the same).
Most of all I guess I miss that period in our lives. Right now is a great time for our family too, but never again will we have young children to vicariously through witness the awe and excitement of all that newness. Never again will we excitedly jump in line when we find a free Easter Egg Hunt by Tower Bridge (free chocolate you say?). Never again will we take our small children to see the piglets and baby goats at the local city farm or on special days in the school holidays make a questionably sound plant pot out of clay for free.
I miss who I was in London. Yet I didn’t like her all that much at the time. I miss my best friend Nikki, she’s holding a little piece of my heart in London for always.
London, you are gray and smoggy and a little bit miserable but I love you anyway and I think I always will…