Saturday 14 February 2009

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner

I am a Londoner. Yes I am. Not in the gor blimey, strike a light sense of the word for I wasn’t born within the sound of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow, but within the sound of the bells of St Mary’s, Harrow-on-the-Hill. Even so, the city is my home. I will always return. I never grow tired of it, just like Samuel Johnson used to say, even though I commute every working day. Don’t get me wrong: sometimes it’s vile: the tube, the smells, the jostling, the back packs. But at those rare times when I’m free of work and off somewhere nice, I relax and greet London like a well-known friend (who I know like the back of me 'and).
I love it, whether I’m turning my ankle on the cobbles of Borough Market, or sitting in the back of a cab at dusk being driven up Piccadilly (I once changed out of a skirt and into trousers in the back of a cab going past Buckingham Palace. It was dark, I was very quick and the cabbie didn’t notice). I love it when I’m walking north of Bond Street past stupendous West End mansions, or glimpsing inside a lamp-light gentleman’s club on Pall Mall. I enjoy the many faces of London. I walk a few paces north of St Paul’s to get lost in the shadows of the alleyways that lead to eerily Medieval Charterhouse and Smithfield. Or I step off the kerb on Bishopsgate, leave the City behind and enter the confined, contrasting, emigre world of the East End.
I’ve certainly been in less savoury places: chucking out time after gigs at the Mean Fiddler, Harlesden, or Brixton Academy (even good old Wembley Arena) but have never felt threatened, or frightened. London is my friend. The obvious places go without saying: the rose gardens of Regent’s Park in June, Hampstead heath on an autumn morning and Highgate cemetary during a crisp December dusk. I’ve even been known to find a fleeting slice of happiness on the terraces at White Hart Lane.
But my favourite place? Now there’s a question. How about crossing Waterloo Bridge, heading north and taking in the panorama of the slick city of London to my right and the golden city of Westminster to my left. There they sit, both hugging the great curve of that grey, murky river. There they precide, both silent and unbreakable.

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