We met each other in 2005. I got off a plane and went straight to Earl’s Court, which was nice enough. But I didn’t really get a chance to explore you until AFTER I had already been to Orkney and Skye and all through the hills and wilds of Scotland. I think we can all agree now, now that we are such good friends, that you aren’t really able to compete with all the green and purple lush and rolling hills, the beautiful dewdrops on the curling wool of baby lambs, the drunk stagger of a man with whiskey breath down cobblestoned streets…
but that’s okay. You aren’t Scotland. You are London. It wasn’t fair to compare the two.
Because now, I do love you. I love you differently than I love Scotland, but I do love you. Very much so.
And today I spent a great deal of my day doing all the things that made me love you. I got up at 5 am and got dressed up in a pretty frock and rode the #26 bus to St. Pauls. I had a Chai Latte in Starbucks, while I read a depressing novel about an Englishwoman in France. Then I went to St. Paul’s for morning prayer and then mass where they mentioned Daniel and strength and journies a lot and then I climbed all 2 gazillion stairs up to the dome. Then I spoke to a boy who five years ago, when I visited you for the first time with Mick et al, helped me go see John Donne’s death shroud. It was crazy. And I spoke to a woman named Rosemary who told me some interesting things. Rosemary is for rememberence. Remember that.
And then I went to the most magical place in the world: Knightsbridge. And I got my hair cut at Toni and Guy for free and then I went to Harrods and tried on Prada and couture.And looked at bunnies. And applied my lipstick in my favorite bathroom. Then I went to Harvey Nichols and I bought jelly beans and goat’s cheese with *rosemary* and had my makeup done. Then I went to The V and A museum and went to the Grace Kelly exhbit and ate my goat’s cheese in the garden, under the beautiful sun, and watched people play in the wading pool. And then I went to the Natural History museum and looked at all the taxidermy and a few dinosaurs. Then, like a sulky lover, you made the tube on the way home very crowded, like to the point people were crushed by doors, and reminded me why you are a conudrum, wrapped up in a piece of wombat.
I doubt that the way I spent my day would make any other person jubuliant, but that is why you are so beautiful London. If I was the sort of person who loved to party until 6 am every day and then stumble home, wretching into gutters, well then, you would provide that. And if I loved hip art galleries and modern art, you give us that in abudance. Drawing parties? yes! walks on the Thames by Parliment? yes! the Thames with performance art? yes! amazing mexican food? yes! pancakes? yes! boring old, beautifully non-modern art? yes! strange squares with beautiful georgian buildings? yes! a palace, a park, fun times in army barracks, primark, prada, every language under the sun, amazing shows, interesting beers, cheap food, champagne, long tube rides, cute strangers, heartbreak, best friends, long walks, Ally Pally, Italian bakeries, strawberry tarts, the opera, royal albert hall, day trips to little towns, drinking too much, friends visiting, kebab shop at 2 am…it’s all right there!
I love walking down Bricklane and it’s all such a scrambled of kids and old men, with the pretty boys in their suits asking you to come in and try *their* curry and the chefs smoking and spitting and poking their heads out of the alley and smiling at you, “pretty girl”, they say. And then the other boys in suits, the ones with posh accents, heading over from Liverpool Street after work, looking to have some curry and some beer and they travel in packs of two, of four, of six.
Or it’s saturday morning and there are vegetables and used clothes lining the streets in stalls and it smells like bagels. Or It’s Sunday and you can walk ove rto Colombia Road and see Deb selling hats and the flower men in their stalls, yelling out in their cockney accents that you can get “2 fer a fivah!” and maybe get some cupcakes or wander even further and then you are in the petting zoo or go further still and London Fields is there and yes, so maybe it is full of hipsters, but I love to watch the boys play trendy ball while I eat pizza or radishes or a jar of olives. And the dogs…oh god, I love the dogs…Walk further on and your in Bethnal Green and then I remember the day I met Al and I had turkish deligh in this resturaunt we went to. And yeah, sometimes I went as far out as Bow even. Or loop in the other direction and hanging out with Emily in Camden, randomly chatting up guys you should know better about, but then you stay up all night watching old Bob Dylan with their moms. Or spending your birthday confused and bewildered by A levels in a random old man pub. Or exploring a snowy Hampstead Heath with a cranky, yet adorable, film critic and then more old men pubs. And rugby players. And more gin. And fluttery snow under lamp light. You gave me drinks in Sloane Square and nights at a boutique hotel. Starbucks with a BNP member, a broken bed, the nanny mafia…
When I think about it, you have given me so much more than any other place, so even though I had to take all of your pollution, high prices, terrible bosses, and hard water…I guess it was an even deal. You didn’t chew me up and spit me out. You coddled me, you nurtured me, you gave me Kensington for gods sake! Those big white houses and the perfurmery and Coco De Mer…nothing can live up to that. You aren’t souless and I am sorry I ever said you were. I am sorry I ever said I hated you and I would never live in you or even visit you. I was wrong.
You gave me a lot London. You made me feel stronger. You made me realize that you have to give things a chance and try them out for a few months before discarding them, deciding they aren’t for you. You made me experiment, come out of my shell. You made me stay up really late. You made me stop caring about the little things because everything is so fucking big here. Every day is monumental.
I’ll miss you so much and all the people and places in you. I hope you miss me too.
lots of love,
p.s. if you could get rid of some of the English though, that would really perk the place up.