When I was a little girl, London was to me the equivalent of what the magical land of Narnia was to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie (although, I’m not too sure they had homeless people and junkies in Narnia). My earliest memories of the city date back to when I was approximately six-years-old; my father spent most his teenage years living in an impressive three-story house around the corner from Highbury (Arsenal FC’s then stadium for you non-football fans out there), and as my grandparents still lived there during my childhood, we used to go and visit every month or so.
Trips into central London were exciting. Although I don’t remember too much about these excursions, what I do recall is this certain *vibe* that was distinctively London. The smell of stale air on the Tube, the hustle and bustle of people continuously on the move, the sound of the myriad languages that are spoken, and the strangely organised chaos of it all. Even as a young girl, this delighted my imagination. Every time I visited, I wanted more.
In subsequent years, the more I returned, the more I fell in love with the city. While I was at university in Leicester, I was lucky enough to have many friends who hailed from the capital, and I therefore spent a lot of time there. I decided that by hook or by crook, once I graduated, I’d be living in London.
Unfortunately, life isn’t always that straightforward.
Fresh out of university and with no real experience in journalism, the only jobs I could consider paid poorly – and London is not a city that you want to be broke in. I therefore decided to head to Dubai instead, where even on a crappy journalist’s salary I lived like a CEO on steroids.
Yes, I sold out.
Last weekend, however, I found myself back in the capital for a few days, and I remembered exactly why I love it. Inspiration is all around; from the eccentric characters that you encounter on the Tube, to the limitless amount of art and culture that is to be found everywhere, London feeds a writer’s soul like no other city. It’s not all pretty, and that’s exactly what I love about it – the city has a certain ‘rawness’ about it, while being magical at the same time. There’s a sense that this very place that delights your soul will consume you and spit you out in a split second with no prior warning, if you let it.
Within just a few days of being there, I came up with an idea for a novel – something that has eluded me for months. It only took one bizarre encounter on the Tube for my writer’s brain to be transported into orbit, and when it came back down to earth I realised that I finally have a plot I can work with. And it’s all thanks to London (well, and the strange dude who was clutching a DVD entitled ‘support for journeys outside the body’).
My hunger to live there has also been reawakened; just like I’ve always said I wanted to live and work abroad, I’ve always said I’ve wanted to live in the capital. And, like my father once pointed out to me, it’s very rare that I ever say I’m going to do something and then not do it. So once my travels are over with, who knows – maybe I’ll finally become a Londoner.
All I can say is: watch this space!