|My old pub where I partied with the Aussie Cricketers – circ. 1680|
I lived in London from 1995 to 1999 and it was an awesome time in my life. The problem is, it could never be a long-term option because I just HATED the bloody winters. I remember standing at a Tube station in the dead of winter one time, waiting for a train to take me one stop, but my feet got so cold they went numb and I thought screw this, so went out and got a taxi. I mean, I really really hate being cold.
I arrived this morning, to a crisp spring day, and it’s been such a trip down memory lane. The last time I visited was eight years ago, and I don’t come enough – which is pathetic considering my British in-laws continue to live here and I do want the boys connected to their English family and heritage, not to mention I still have many fantastic mates living in and around London. Time to rectify that I think.
|My old house|
So I’m staying next to Chelsea Football Ground, and loh and behold, it happens to be next door to my first shared house in London – which was a weird collection of people living together. I had to see it and went for a wander today, finding the house, as well as a pub I used to go to a lot, which included a night spent partying with the Australian Cricket Team (that was a good night), and the local supermarket I shopped at, and the market on North End Road, and much much more. It’s all changed a lot and yet it hasn’t changed much at all. The biggest difference I noticed is more Eastern European accents than before – which is a nice addition to the neighborhood. Fulham definitely remains as eclectic as ever – rich next to poor, all faiths, skin colours, ages, and lots of nutters thrown in the mix as well – I like nutters.
It reminded me of that first day and first week when I arrived in London in 1995. Arriving in a country to live for the first time is always a very rich sensory experience for some reason – for me anyway. I have strong first memories from Boston and Singapore as well. But my first memory in London is always arriving at Heathrow immigration and the passport official was an excessively made-up lady with a high blonde bouffant, with fake nails like talons, and she went on to greet me with the strongest Cockney accent I had ever heard in my life at that point. I felt like I was on the set of Eastenders. She made me giggle, but not to her face of course, because Immigration is serious business these days.
My next impression was how low London was – physically. Coming into one of the world’s greatest cities, I was expecting towering skyscrapers – and to this day, it’s not like that. I expected a drab city, mainly because the news coming into Australia at the time was all pretty depressing (London was just coming out of depression back then), and shows like Eastenders didn’t exactly make it look all sparkling and shiny either. I mean just the pale complexions of the characters was a curiosity to me. Much to my surprise, I found London really bright, fantastically historical (Mozart composed one of his symphonies in the house next to where I was staying – cool) and of course, unexpectedly beautiful.
|I love the history!|
Which is the next biggest impression I had – it is a beautiful city. I remember arriving with Steve for the first time after we met about 10 years ago, and said look, isn’t it beautiful. He’d never looked at it through my eyes before and said he could really see the beauty in it now. As a young Pommy growing up here, he’d never given it that much thought. You don’t really.
So today, as the taxi weaved its way through Green Park, the horses were out, the new monuments were gleaming in the early morning sun, the day was crystal clear, people were out walking their dogs, and once again, I was struck by the beauty of this city.
I do love London, and I tell you, if it wasn’t for the weather, I’d say to Steve, this is where we need to live. I figure we’ll just have to come and visit a lot, because I do need my regular injection of London it seems.
Yours, without the bollocks