180 degrees

What have I been doing?  I forgot about the city.  But today I was reminded that there’s more to life than Woolwich.  I remembered how I love those dusty tube tracks and the ferrous air that comes pushing at us as the trains approach.  The sound of iron against iron, the clunking noise travelling down the tiled walls with their poetic Jack Daniels adverts.  I love the variety of people and buildings and shops and absurdities.  I love the people with crazy hats and purple hair.  I love the way the busker’s accordion tunes echo down the tunnels, making me feel like I’m in Amélie.

I love the graffiti and the wall art; people making their mark on the city.  I love the old bricks and the worn cobblestones.  I love the surprises lurking around every corner.

I love the way I can just go and sit by the canal and some crazy girl will talk to me and a bunch of Brazilians will play guitar for us.  I love the way a pint of Noble glints in the afternoon sunlight.  I love the willows gently dipping their branches into the canal, rippling their way through the lock.

camden lock

camden lock

I love the smell of food from every country in the world.  I love meeting Italians and yelling “FIGO!” and “dolce far niente” in their faces and we all laugh.  I love practicing my Spanish with random Colombian ladies who tell me “buena suerte!” and smile at me with their whole being.

I love the lady’s voice on the DLR – “The next stop is West Silvertown” (which always smells like poppers).  Ten years later I’m sitting on the same DLR train, listening to the same Bright Eyes songs about city life and heartbreak, yet everything is different and so much has happened.  I love the many memories that have nestled themselves into the very fabric of this city, in every corner (apart from the west – why would anyone ever go to Shepherd’s Bush?  East side forever, yo.)

kajsas hatI’ve been such a silly girl, hiding in our little penthouse so far away from everyone.  From now on I will spend my days in the city, not in Woolwich with all its drills and cranes and deceiving jippos (personal experience, not prejudice). I’ve met some funny people today, and had some nice conversations in three different languages.  I’ve bought beautiful dresses and finally found the hat I’ve always been looking for.  On the Northern Line, a man in a suit dropped a yellow jelly bean on the train floor and we looked at each other and laughed, and for some reason that felt really nice.  I’ve sung along to Elvis hits in the street and realised that nobody cares.  I can do what I want.  This life is for me.  I’m such a lucky girl.

Even Woolwich looks beautiful in a summer sunset

Even Woolwich looks beautiful in a summer sunset



June and new beginnings

May disappeared in a thick mist.  Sunny days came and went, and I preferred when it rained.  I love the sound of heavy droplets incessantly pattering against the tin roof of our building.  Lucky to be on the top floor.  I lit candles, different colours for different purposes, while I sat in my jammies and wrote profile after profile to bring in a little spending money for summer.

The city is still a mess.

bus stop

Now my work is finished, and yesterday I finally found my flow again when I spent the afternoon in Jackson, Mississippi; 4,000 words pouring out of me rekindling memories of guns and swamps and sleazy strip clubs.  Still, I feel weak and shy, a hermit recluse sensitive to the daylight.  But I must come out of my hiding place now.  A long holiday is coming up – a month with various family members – and it excites me as much as scares me.  Better start packing; we’re off tomorrow night.

Last weekend we went to visit our dear friends in Kidderminster.  We went on a steam train along the River Severn and life feels very different up there, among woods and wildflowers.  Perhaps we are beginning to plot our escape.


Read a blog post today.  It was nice, it had the usual message of ‘let things fall apart, that’s how they come together again’ sort of message.  But there was a particular passage that tickled me and I wanted to keep here for a later day.

“I know mountains grow because of their fault lines. I know lakes turn that gorgeous shade of turquoise because of their silt. I know jewels are formed under pressure. I know trees can grow through rocks, and rivers can break canyons …

I know the earth smells fabulous after a hard rain, and I know she breathes. I know out of the destruction of forest fires, new and stronger ecosystems can emerge. I know there is life in the deepest depths of the ocean and her tides can soften stone.” (Jacquelyn Taylor)

It will be good to get away for a while.  I’ll go breathe in the German mountains and swim in the Swedish lakes and completely refresh myself.  I will nurture my relationship with my book, offering it its due time and respect.  I will regain my strength and stop being such a sorry-ass wimp.  Once I accept that I’m a wimp and that’s okay, maybe then I will finally stop being one.  Ain’t that always the way?