Wednesday, 13 July 2016

My London

My best friend hated London.

She moved away three years ago and bought a house in Manchester, two up, two down, and got a husband, a cat and a baby, in that order.

Every time I visit her there it rains.

At Christmas it flooded and they have been living in a flat ever since, all piled on top of each other like presents under the tree.

I told her, I don’t understand how you can like it here and she says

I hate London

I hated living in London.

She describes it – expensive and dirty, crowded tubes and dodgy streets lined with dangerous eyes, pretentious bars, sleazy men in suits, hipster girls with nose piercings, sticky floors and high rent and endless Prets, urban sprawl as far as the eye can see.

And that is her London.

It’s funny. I see her London sometimes, glimpse it in TV shows, hear it in depictions from other people’s stories. But it is as far removed to me as the London from a Charles Dickens novel. I have never been there.


Monday, 11 July 2016

The in between places

For a while now I’ve been writing these weekly lists about the things I’ve enjoyed in the week.  I write them half for myself – I like reading them back, remembering the things I was doing in 2013, 2014; the make up I was wearing, the dinners I went for, not just the holidays or the 'big things' but the Nandos lunches and the new lipsticks and the other little, positive sparks that make up a life.

And yet recently I have been thinking that there are even smaller things. The black coffee I make every morning, the smell of the hot water mixing with the instant granules and filling the office kitchen. These little, insignificant rituals. Massaging Body Shop vitamin E cream into my skin. The smell reminds me, for no reason, of my mother. Seeing a homemade cheesecake laid out on someone’s desk with a sign propped up next to it – ‘Tastes better than it looks! Help yourselves!’ Buskers on the tube playing an Oasis song. Waking up with a cool breeze streaming through the balcony door.

These things, I realise, are nothing but the in between moments, taking me from one event to the next. Liking how your nails look as you slap your contactless card against the Oyster reader. A seat on the tube. Walking past a sausage dog puppy wearing a cone. These are the connecting pieces, the screws holding the shelves together. The way your favourite denim jeans feel on dress-down-Friday. Drinking a diet coke first thing in the morning. Picking up someone's card when they drop it on the street, their smiles of relief, your bubble of pleasure.

They might seem insignificant, these moments, but they are not; added together they are the summation of your life and they can make you happy or sad, richer or poorer, better or worse. Do not forget to take pleasure in your in between things – breathe in your coffee, brush your hair, stretch. Pad across cool floorboards and open the curtains. These little things, they matter, make them count.

Because in dark times, when the big things seem too big, it is these moments that will save you. Your morning ritual, a moment of recognition with a stranger, the soup you like in Pret - these things will be there when all else is lost in the void. Life is what happens when you aren't looking. Life is happening now.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

30 Years! A Pearl Wedding Anniversary (Or - what my parents taught me about love)

30 years ago, George Michael was flying high in the charts. Maggie Thatcher was Prime Minister and Regan was President of the USA. The first Apple computer was just being created, a young lady named Diana was about to marry Prince Charles, punk was a thing and people had the worst perms you’ve ever seen in your life. Like they actually thought that was a hairstyle...let's not dwell on it.

And in a small town in Hertfordshire, at a stately home called Fanham’s Hall where, 30 years later, my sister would celebrate her own marriage, my parents got married. This weekend we celebrated their Pearl wedding anniversary. 

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