If you’re tired of London, are you really tired of life? To be fair, if you’re tired of anything, it’s probably that quote but leaving that aside, I’m still not convinced. Our life out of London wasn’t a half life – on the contrary, it had many magical moments – but it was a more defined life. There were things we could do and things we couldn’t.
I used to think our decision to return to London just boiled down to basic maths : What we’d gained didn’t add up to what we’d lost. Yes, we had a beautiful house and garden and a view to die for – everything in fact we’d longed for from the confines of our one-bed flat – but I missed London’s restaurants, the museums and galleries more than I could have imagined. A more reliable rail link into London might have helped: If I can offer one piece of advice to anyone thinking of moving out and commuting, it’s to check, check and check again the statistics for your line. It’s no exaggeration to say I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of non-disrupted journeys I had during our time in the Village. Whenever we tried to go out, the worry of whether we’d ever make it back was always there. In the end, we stopped trying. Space, it seems, doesn’t buy you happiness, it just gives you more bedrooms in which to mope about the house.
Looking back, I realise now it was never that simple. For all the times I was confronted by a wall of ‘delayed’ messages at Euston, there were glorious autumn days, woodland walks and slap up pub lunches for less than the cost of a pint in London. It wasn’t a question of having made the wrong or the right choice, what I missed was the luxury of not having to choose at all.
More than anywhere I’ve ever lived, London lets you be all the people you are – career woman, homemaker, socialite, recluse, happy, sad. Life in the Village was perfect as a hot date – superficially attractive and great for a good time just not up to handling my moods. London is a real soulmate – still capable of pissing me off but always there as a support, no matter what.
London is a place of infinite possibilities. You can turn left or you can turn right, but you can equally meander though life, twisting and turning in every direction just like the Thames flowing through the city. Coming back, what I’ve enjoyed the most aren’t the restaurants, the museums, the galleries – all the things I thought I’d missed – but the unexpected gems, the things I’ve stumbled on and which I never imagined myself doing in million years: listening on the edge of my seat to a story of sailing solo round the world, even though I don’t do boats and get seasick on a river taxi; Meeting Dave who went blind aged 18 and discovering what it’s like finding your way around London without sight; learning about parkour from kids half my age practicing at the end of the street. Arguably I could also have done any of these in the Village if I wanted but then, that’s exactly the point – I’d have to have gone looking for them. In London, they just happen.
London isn’t a fairy tale nor are its streets paved with gold, but life here is richer and more colourful than anything we had before; And even if I haven’t yet made my fortune Dick Whittington style, at least I’ve got the cat!