The difference is clear – the first few blasts of slightly warm air as I step out of onto the tarmac are the clearest reminder that I have left my small town’s five degree weather behind for at least a couple of days. It is a year almost to the day since I last passed through London – that blatantly self centred and most cosmopolitan of cities – and as usual I feel ill at ease. Blame my small town mentality – in the little corner of the world where I grew up, every one knew every one else and their grand mother.. and their second cousins twice removed. One was as likely to get whupped by the bloke down the street who felt you were up to no good as you were by your own father..
Places, to me, have unique signatures; sights, sounds, smells and landmarks which are etched in the mind and are the buoys that mark the conflation of memory, time and space. My re acquaintance with this city has suffered many false starts. Holidays were sacrificed on the altar of work projects, air plane tickets were deemed too pricey by my proprietary algorithm bank account and friends and family conspired to go on journeys at the one time the stars seemed to align for me. Stepping out on the tarmac is in reality a minor miracle.
On the train into town I am reminded of just how self absorbed people can be. A rather portly man has decided its his dinner time – dinner being fish, chips and some other items he eats out of a bag. It is clear that there is a measure of discomfort induced by the smells of his food, but he oblivious to the fact – or merely indifferent to our concerns – carries on apace shifting morsel after morsel into his wide post box of a mouth. Aside of the odd exaggerated cough, we all seemed to have stoically accepted our ‘lot’.
My memories of this latest dalliance with London will be varied. I will remember the bloke on the tube – blond hair, eyes gaping, clearly enamoured of the thighs wantonly displayed by two teenage women inebriated beyond caring; the thin lipped Polish woman speaking with short terse sentences into her cell phone and then proceeding to apply more lip gloss at 11.35pm, the harsh scent of cannabis wafting up to my nose from darkened alleys as I tried to make my way to the dump I opted to stay in to save costs and the plethora of voices and languages I was immersed in. There are more pleasant memories though – a fabulous Friday night dinner, some alcohol light wine, intelligent discussion on varied subjects and success in my principal objective for making the trip.
Principal objectives achieved? Check. Loads of football manager? Check. Fab dinner? Check… It’s been a great week.. 🙂