Missing London

I woke in a sweat the other morning. Eyes burning, heart racing, oozing pores.

expat_London

London is miserable in November but it’s still lively.

As I clambered out of bed to grab a glass of water from the kitchen I struggled to remember what it was that I was dreaming. It was confusing. I was moving and overwhelmed with packing boxes, and fretful kids.

I remember – in my dream – asking a neighbour whether I could ship the fish from the UK to NZ in plastic bags, like a child might bring a fish home for his goldfish bowl from the pet shop.

I can’t remember the answer, but I suspect it was a ‘no’. I do remember though the sadness I felt. And then the confusion.

You see, I woke missing London.

London is not terribly nice in November. It’s cold, dark and rainy. Sometimes it’s snowy and chilled petals fall through your scarf down your neck where they pool across your back. The Tube is always too hot, but too busy to accommodate a complete disrobe, too, so you stand there in full winter gear – hat, gloves, scarf, coat – sweating.

London is shitty in winter. People are terse, heads down, faces snarled against the cold and the pressure of the upcoming ‘holidays’. People are rushing, too busy for a kind word or to offer help. A few years ago I walked about two kms down a London street in the snow with my arms full of stuff for a stand at a trade show I was working at. Many people saw me struggling, not one helped. Then there was the meeting with high-powered PR where I got lost on the way in a maze of buildings and people and no GPS signal. Oh, and I broke the heel on my shoe and had to limp for some of the way. I felt I was one woman against the world.

We didn’t even live in London, but rather in a small parochial little town 40 miles south west, or two hours on the train/tube, away.  Our town was pretty, rural and unfriendly. Or so it seemed to me. When the crowds left for work – either commuting to London or walking down the road to the large atomic bomb factory – I felt terribly alone. Heading to London for work or a meeting was my ‘out’.

A welcome relief.

A reminder that whilst I felt I was the outsider in our little town, in London I felt one of the unwashed masses of humanity, and there was something incredibly soothing about that. I loved the variety of everything. Of shops, of people, of cafes and restaurants and shows and entertainment and most of all the buzz. Travelling up to London reminded me that there were other people and other cultures (something sadly missing in our little town) and other accents and …life. Life everywhere. Life on the streets, in the Tube, on the buses, down Oxford Street giggling at bargains and swearing credit cards…life in your nose in your skin in your hair, on your toes.

Not all pretty, or sparkly or even Christmas-jolly, but life all the same. Not carbon copied, oppressed, depressed bland existence.

“There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” Vivienne Westwood.

It’s true. There isn’t. London is spectacular.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,” said Samuel Johnson. He’s right.

From the crazy tourists in Trafalgar Square to the doe-eyed international students on the Tube desperately studying their books, from the buskers in the Tube (most of whom were pretty good!) to The City bankers with their laptop cases and throttled expressions.. London is life.

And that’s what I woke up missing. That vitality that always made me draw in a deep admiring breath on the South Western train as we slid along the tracks into Waterloo and those crazy new apartment buildings on Canary Wharf and then The London Eye came into view.  Awe. Every. Single. Time.

I was so grateful to be experiencing London. Ever the Kiwi chick done good, I would often stop and think ‘Wow this is London. I’ve been studying London and reading about it all my life and now I’m here’.

And then one day I’d pinch myself and wake and realise that I’m not in London  anymore  and I’d miss it.

Do you love London? 

Quotes from –
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/london.html#z9bcakXtKkGXty02.99


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'Missing London' has 11 comments

  1. November 5, 2013 @ 11:16 am Looking for Blue Sky

    I never loved London, but I do love Dublin, it makes me feel alive 🙂

    Reply

    • November 7, 2013 @ 10:10 am vegemitevix

      Now there’s one place I haven’t been to but would dearly like to go to. Dublin sounds wonderful.

      Reply

  2. November 5, 2013 @ 11:18 am utterlyscrummy

    I like London too, 45 minutes via direct train from us. I go often but only often enough to savour it and remind me that I couldn’t live there. I miss Auckland like crazy, Mission Bay on a sunny day, Queen St shopping *sigh* I’m off to Leeds this week though, never been there properly before and only previously seen the train station. Should be good, I hope. Us kiwis get about a bit, eh!

    Reply

    • November 7, 2013 @ 10:10 am vegemitevix

      We’re having the typical see-saw Spring weather at the moment – warm and sunny one minute, cloudy rainy and cooler the next. But summer is a-coming the weatherman promises. 23 degC due over the weekend. Might even get in the pool. Fingers crossed. Never did get to Leeds. Us Kiwis sure do travel.

      Reply

      • November 8, 2013 @ 3:08 am utterlyscrummy

        Leeds was fab, the best bit was there were 3 kiwis sat next to me on the train. I caught an earlier train and didn’t have a reserved seat and the one I picked was surrounded by kiwis, we had a great natter about NZ and the UK. Best journey I’ve had in ages. The universe was very kind to me yesterday. Hope you will be able to enjoy the beach and pool soon x

        Reply

  3. November 5, 2013 @ 2:58 pm Bronnie

    I love London. I loved living there, and I loved holidaying there. I loved Auckland too, and miss it as well. I think there are always times when we will be homesick for someplace else. I guess we are lucky to have experienced so much of this world … I think Kiwis and Aussies have quite a bit of that travel bug in us, don’t we? And not just to experience a different way of life, but to live it!

    Reply

    • November 7, 2013 @ 10:08 am vegemitevix

      It’s part of our DNA Bronnie. I’m sure of that. We’re gypsies at heart, but I also think it helps us to be more broadminded than other peoples.

      Reply

  4. November 5, 2013 @ 8:02 pm MidlifeSinglemum

    What I’d really like is to be able to hop on a train in Jerusalem, go to London for the day and a little bit into the night to include a theatre trip, and then come home to sit on my balcony in the fresh but not cold night air we are still enjoying here.

    We have IKEA in Israel which is, of course, identical to every IKEA all over the world. When I’m there I dream of coming out the other end and finding myself in Neasdon. Then I could hop on the tube and go home for supper with my parents.

    Reply

    • November 7, 2013 @ 10:07 am vegemitevix

      I so know what you mean. Would love to be able to just go for the day, and not have it take two days to get there. x

      Reply

  5. November 6, 2013 @ 10:14 am Notes From Lapland

    I do love London, but usualy only from afar. when i’m actually there I find it hard to see past the dirt and the crowds etc. I rather like London in pictures, I think that’s the best kind of London.

    Reply

    • November 7, 2013 @ 10:07 am vegemitevix

      And there surely must be one little bar on The Strand that you have fond memories of? Remember the Irish pensioners?

      Reply


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