I did not feel snow in the air when I came home last night, even though it was spitting watery flakes this morning. Not so far away, it has fallen in sheets apparently. London often feels like its own little world.
I was talking about this earlier. About whether the rest of the UK is as fast and full and connected and wonderful and tiring and all-consuming. I don’t think it is, having lived in non-London UK for most of my life. I complain about the speed and the intensity but it suits me, now, I think. As intensely as I am aware of the sense of isolation and anonymity in city life, so too do I feel an enormous sense of pride and the buzz that comes from being part of a City. In some ways I like the ambiguity: there’s an awareness in tension that is lost in complacency.
London at Christmas is equally contradictory. On the one hand, I am frustrated by the invasion of crowds and the fact that London time is slowed back down; on the other hand, the excitement congregates under the sparkling lights and baubles of Covent Garden, and the Christmas trees on street corners and London’s squares have transformed winter into something magical. I feel like a child again.
I have been back in London for two years now. I wonder how I lived out of it before. There is the sense that it has a life of its own. That, even during the most traditional of periods, it manages to create something surprising and new. That it can leave you drained, if you let it, but it can also be the most exhilarating place on earth.