At the end of this week I’ll have been living and working in the big smoke for a month and what a whirlwind of experiences it has been.
Walking past the Tower of London each morning like it’s just another overdeveloped house on the street, diving in and out of fellow commuters like it’s an art form (and, when it fails, dashing off without making eye contact). Staring blanking the world and for once the world happily blanking you back, this city is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. It was when a cyclist yelled at me “watch the f**king road!” whilst jumping a red light that I realised I was properly London. Why? Because I did not care.
So when people in the very English town of Swindon grab me and ask “what’s London like?” or colleagues in London nudge me with take out cups “would you go back there [Swindon] now?” I feel myself lost for words. How can you defend a proudly average town surrounded by Cotswold beauty or champion a buzzing and vibrant city that rips you off at every turn? You just can’t, especially not in one sentence (which is what everyone wants). One month in and I don’t see myself being able to formulate a succinct sound bite anytime soon.
I swore to myself weeks before moving that I was not going to let this opportunity slip. I refused to spend eight months working flat out and then moping about my bedroom complaining I had nothing to do. I didn’t want to become like some of my other London friends or indeed like myself in the Cotswolds, brought up without visiting or fully appreciating what was on offer on one’s doorstep.
In light of this, here is a short list of some of the things I’ve done in my first month (well, three weeks three days):
- Started a diary-come-log-come-Alice’s-attempts-at-professionalism
- Walked along the South Bank A LOT
- Visited the Tate Modern even more
- Introduced to and then introduced others to Borough Market
- Speed Friending (like speed dating but a lot more chilled out)
- Made new friends
- Caught up with very old friends
- Comedy gigs
- Explored Wapping
- Tate Gallery
- National Portrait Museum
- Been out for drinks
- General landmarks – e.g. St Pauls, Westminster, various bridges
- Burnt 1,000,000,000,000,000 calories from walking everywhere (a mix of commuting and stubbornness to pay for the Tube. 90 minute walking time is my cut off point for getting the Tube on a weekend).
- Got ill
- Bought my weight in face cleansers after discovering the heat and air quality was making my skin truly disgusting (FYI I don’t plan on coming out of London with an improved life expectancy).
- Spoilt countless tourist photos and selfies and walked into a number of French school children on purpose for taking up the entire pavement. Bruises of pride.
And this is only month one. As I get more established I hope to explore more of real London as opposed to tourist London through personal exploration and using my old and new friends (no pressure guys). I want to network with people and make a name for myself. And then I want to meet a rich banker who will take me out to the opera and buy me Hotel Chocolat chocolates for no reason (not just the free samples they give when you visit a shop). And then he’ll remind me how wonderfully amazing I am when I moan about the price of eggs and then buy me the most expensive eggs at M&S to prove a point. When the latter happens I’m not waiting around, consider the man engaged.
I mean I’m not asking for much right?