I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I live and work in London.
For those that are unaware, that's where you might go to seek your fortune and where, upon arrival, you might find the streets to be paved with gold. It is, apparently, where Burt the Chimneysweep came from in Mary Poppins. Where I come from, everyone talks like that ("Cor blimey, Tooting Squared! Let's be gettin' you up them apples and pears for a right bloomin' knees up!")
The thing is that, much as it's home, which compels me to feel a warm and fuzzy fondness for it, London can be wearing. And wearing it has been for a few weeks.
A capital city has to be a business centre and a stock exchange. It has to be a media centre, and a PR vehicle. It's got to appeal to residents, countrymen and tourists. It has to be a political, stage and transport hub.
It shouldn't be any wonder then that sometimes it's a little bit busy. And that's what vexes me. I've been plagued recently by dawdlers in front of me and by people who swoop into my path only to stop stock still, then glare at me when I walk up their ankles. And I've been caught in the queue behind a ditherer more times than I care to mention.
And I've been a bit overwhelmed by noise and hassle and bustle and fluster. Yesterday I thought I'd lose my mind when workmen started digging up the pavement outside our office, and when I went out at lunchtime for a little respite, and was shouted at in the sandwich queue, I really nearly had a proper tantrum right there and then.
I'm tired of squeezing my way onto a train every morning (with people who are inexplicably smelly for such an early hour of the day), and then being looked at sideways when I say that I'd rather wait two minutes for the next bus and have a seat, than get to work two minutes earlier having stood with my face pushed against the window all the way.
Basically, it's all been a biiiiit tedious recently, and all feels a lot like hard work.
Last night, I met up with some girl friends for a drink and ended up heading for the bus stop quite late. At midnight I was standing on the south end of London Bridge frowning at the three minute wait for the number 133 (I ask you! How is a girl meant to WAIT for THAT LONG?!) and generally thinking griping thoughts, when I looked up.
To my left the floodlit dome of St Paul's Cathedral dominated the view. Straight across the bridge the Gherkin (should that be capitalised?) and the building formerly known as the Nat West Tower were picked out in blue and red lights and, when I strolled away from the bus stop a bit, to my right was Tower Bridge, looming over HMS Belfast. And in that moment it all looked still and grand and peaceful and ... well ... stunning.
And I realised that London is quite lovely really.
2 weeks ago