Friday, 17 September 2010
Things I will be glad to see the back of:
Transport: a given. The July 7 underground evacuation was just the start of my horror. I will certainly not miss the sound of someone throwing up down the back of my seat while the person next to me plays grime music at top volume, but I do not dare say anything in case he has a knife in his pocket. For that matter, always worrying if people have knives in their pockets.
Prices: being charged more for a pint than I would cough up for a bottle of supermarket wine. The very northern trait of commenting on the price of everything has been amplified here.
'£15 for a Sunday roast?' (followed by sharp intake of breath)
The self-righteous male execs I worked with who think if you have a northern accent/did not go to private school you are a sub species. These are the type of men you would warmly welcome some sort of war/uprising for, so they could expose themselves as the truly useless humans they are. Your long words and smug chops can’t help you now, Rupert! Pow pow pow!!
The fact a pitbull is a must-have accessory in certain boroughs.
Fashion. In Shoreditch especially. No, you do not look good in skinny red jeans, yellow neon top and silly moustache.
Proper London accents. Also the reason I cannot watch EastEnders but I can watch Corrie. Nah wot a mean, bruv?
Eating shrivelled canteen baked potatoes al desko every day.
My insomnia, which has blossomed over the past few years.
The fungus in my bathroom.
And to prove I am not a complete misery guts, things I will miss about London (as well as certain people, of course):
The cheeky squirrels. They are not rats with cute tails. I even like the junkie ones.
Gordon's wine bar on Embankment. Unconditionally.
My charity shop volunteering – who knew hanging up polyester pants while hanging out with autistic people and petty thieves could be so much fun?
Borough Market – even though my recently diagnosed coeliacs means I have to avoid the cake and sausage roll stalls and eat a burger off a cabbage leaf instead.
Free/cheap hair cuts at the Vidal Sasson training academy. Although my present give-me-confidence-for-the-first-day-of-new-job hairstyle does have a pink streak in it (‘Oh no, it’s MINK darling, it looks good HONESTLY.’)
Canary Wharf - weirdly. I am strangely sentimental about the shiny place where I used to work. And the parties on boats moored nearby.
My mobile phone, which I lost in the pub during my leaving drinks last night. Although I did acquire a Santa hat.
And that is it. The bags are packed, the van is booked and the bathroom has almost returned to its original colour. So long London. And thank God for that.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
It is 2am and I am standing by a bus stop in Shepherd’s Bush, blind without glasses, crippled by high heels and with a mobile phone that has just given up on life. I am considering joining it.
With me is ‘Al’ an elderly Cuban trumpet player I have just met who has been to a late-night dance class and is almost as lost and confused as I am. Despite his creepy flirtatious tone, I am not telling him to sling his hook because I am reliant on his eyes to read the bus stop signs for me (his cataracts beat my stigmatism). Still, I would rather be stuck with an amorous trumpet player as my guide than a crack-head gangster.
I am not sure if it is a London thing. There is a possibility it could be an age thing. But when I am asked if I had a good night out, these days my answer begins with a blow by blow account of the horrors of the journey home. The lovely time I had before gets diluted with tales of tube engineering works, rerouted night buses, unaffordable taxis and the bizarre cast of character met along the way.
A first round of farewell drinks in Soho seemed like an excellent idea. A central-ish point for people to meet, then jump on the last tube home and be safe in bed within 40 minutes with a box of ibuprofen and a pint of strong orange squash. Instead I am dodging snaking rivers of p*** trickling down the pavement, watching girls with chubby thighs squeezed into tiny shorts throw fried chicken at each other, and gently explaining why the small matter of a 40-year age gap, me having a boyfriend and my imminent move to the north means, no, meeting for a drink would not be a great idea... but where can I get the next N207 bus from?
It takes me three hours to get back to Ealing. I take comfort from the fact my emergency trainers are still stashed under a bush on the Common, where I hid them before heading to Soho in my ridiculous heels, staggering like a newborn foal. I gratefully shuffle the final stretch of my journey home.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
‘You should,’ says Special Agent Dale Cooper when asked why he is drinking coffee instead of hunting killers, ‘treat yourself to one thing each day.’
These are wise words, even if they are said by someone who is friends with a dwarf who talks backwards. (Watch Twin Peaks if you haven’t.)
Which is why I have come to Richmond on my day off. Far, far away from my flat and lists and phone calls and questions and emails and bank statements. Well, 15 minutes on the 65 bus, anyway.
Richmond is posh. It’s the part of London you take family members to when they visit because it has swans and a Waitrose. I am sitting by the Thames drinking coffee and watching pigeons fight over a pizza crust. A homeless man is also watching them (this is Richmond homeless though - he has a Daily Telegraph on his lap which he has been reading, not using for shelter).
Sitting here, next to the homeless man, watching the pigeons, it is the calmest I have felt in weeks.
‘I should treat myself more often,’ I think, ‘not stress about money and moving.’
I head to the main street. I buy some trousers (treat). I buy a top (treat). I have some wine (treat). I eat a Galaxy Ripple. I buy Stephen King’s Misery on DVD (treat). I book myself in for a wax I can’t afford (treat). I should be buying mildew spray to clean the bathroom and white gloss to paint over the tea stains on my kitchen walls. I buy a shiny belt instead.
I am high on treats.
‘I should not be allowed out on my own until further notice,’ I think, wisely.