Tuesday, 27 April 2010

M minus 2 days - A Love Letter

Dear London,

It's not you.  It's me. 

I am going.  But it's the right thing to do.

You have given me so much.  When I arrived here, I was 22, wet behind the ears, never lived in a city worth the name.  Two stone fatter, shorter of hair, less bespectacled of nose. Fresh from four years of what felt like independence but with meals cooked for me, sheets washed, and someone watching out if I wasn't home for a couple of days...

I grew up here.  I became who I am and what I am.  I met B.  I met hundreds of other friends and acquaintances, all of whom have had a part in making me the person I am today.  I made, and then met, L, and then A and S.

I got my first job, the same job I have only just left.  I bought my first flat, and sold it again a mere 15 months later to buy a house for the family we have now become.  I studied, and drank, and played, and sang, and danced badly, and gossiped, and did some unsuitable things to a number of unsuitable men.

I have loved your sights, your smells and your sounds:  the view from Waterloo Bridge, whatever the weather; the cherry trees in Normand Park;  your amazing cleanliness and silence under snow; the way wet tarmac smells after spring rain; the noisy shouts of delight and despair from the stadium not so far away... But I have hated your sights, your smells and your sounds too:  dog poo on the pavements; the 6 am wake up call of the first flight into Heathrow (and every two minutes thereafter); the stillness, and silence, despite the sirens, of the morning of 7 July 2005; the swearing, the shouting, the anger and stress of 7 million people crammed into living cheek by jowl, whether they like it or not.

I am proud to have known you. To have shared this part of my life with you.  That I have your tube map in my head: and that I know which stations have all the vowels, and which none of the letters of the word "mackerel".  I wonder how long it will take before I forget that it is quicker to walk from Covent Garden to Leicester Square, or before I stop being disappointed that the buses in Edinburgh aren't red.

I have known your prisons and your palaces, your concert halls and your cathedrals, and I will miss them all, as being part of you.  I will miss you.  Even though you won't miss me.

Because I know my relationship with you was only ever going to be transient.  I move and change, and am moved and changed by you.  But not you.  You change, but not because of me.  I am a blink to you.  Forgotten before it is even over. Someone else will take my place, and you will change them too, and then forget them too and move on to the next.

But I will never forget you.

Goodbye.  And thank you. x


  1. i shed a tear, what a great letter.
    i am also glad you got to experience london with no planes before you left :-)

  2. Crikey, 7 million people in one place, it's hard to imagine really really isn't it, even when you've lived there. A wonderful letter.

  3. Remind me which stations have all of the vowels. I used to know...

  4. You sum up London so well. I enjoy living here but have to escape to somewhere quiet every now and then to keep my sanity!

  5. Gosh, that was lovely. Happy to have found you via The Gallery :)

  6. What a beautiful love letter. London should count itself proud to have had you.

  7. Good to find your blog! Mentions of Normand Park make me thik that you (were) pretty near by my London haunts. I'll be following your travels with interest!

  8. You made me cry, what a wonderful post. I'm sure you will treasure this piece of writing in years to come when your life in Scotland is old and established and London is a distant fond memory. As Only Son reminded me on the day we left UK for Singapore "This is just the start of our enormous adventure".

    And so it will be for you too.

    MD xx

  9. Just gorgeous. Having been born in London I can't ever imagine leaving, even though I share your annoyance with the bad bits. I'm glad you enjoyed your time with us. I hope Edinburgh worms its way into your heart too.

  10. I left London over 6 yrs ago and your letter really resonates. I found it terribly hard. Still miss it sometimes. Moving was a great adventure and one I wouldn't have missed. We are settled now and happy. Good luck to you!

  11. It's funny how long ago it now feels since I wrote this. London is two weeks and 350 miles away and could be a different world....

    Notes to Self - you are SO right. Wasn't no planes bliss? (if not for all those stuck somewhere they didn't want to be....)

    Heather - If 7 million people is hard enough to imagine here (6 thousand) I can't imagine what it must be like for you! There are probably fewer people than that in the whole of Finland?

    Iota - what's it worth....?

    Make Do Mum - you're absolutely right about the escape. That was part of the reason for going.

    Calif Lorna - Delighted you're here. Heading over to yours soon.

    Barbara - I don't think it is, but I certainly am! Thank you.

    Mud in the City - don't say you're another person who I've just missed! We were in Barons Court...

    MD - Thank you! I keep telling L that this is an adventure. Thank you for reminding me that it's an adventure for me too.

    Victoria - I wonder if it's different that you were born there. I've been a bit all over, so London always felt temporary. It's amazing though, isn't it. I can't imagine never having lived in London - in fact I find people who haven't a little odd!

    Heather Davis - I'm sorry you still miss it, I think I'm in the glow of novelty here, because I'm not. That said, I'm coming down next week...


I know. I'm sorry. I hate these word recognition, are you a robot, guff things too, but having just got rid of a large number of ungrammatical and poorly spelt adverts for all sorts of things I don't want, and especially don't want on my blog, I'm hoping that this will mean that only lovely people, of the actually a person variety, will comment.

So please do. Comments are great...