Friday, April 03, 2009

A man who is tired of London...


Perhaps you're originally from London. Or like me, perhaps you're not. I have however, lived here for 22 years, the longest I've ever lived anywhere and half of my life, so I consider it home and consider myself a Londoner.

It's still an exciting place to be if you make the most of it, but I fully understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea.

I can't remember my first ever visit, but despite living about one-and-a-half hours away (actually more like two-and-a-half pre-motorway) we rarely, if ever came. This was mainly because my dad worked in London, got up at 5.30 every day and didn't get home until after 7.30. He hated London and still does, which irritates me every time he says it because being a commuter is one thing, living here quite another. He did bring us up to museums though, and I remember a trip to the Natural History Museum when I was very young.

The next one I fully remember is a May day in 1980 when we brought my German exchange student to the big city. He was hippyish, into Greenpeace and Foghat, while I was into the Specials and had never heard of Greenpeace. Nuclear power? Who cares! We had little in common. He wanted to go to Stonehenge but Dad thought it was too long a drive. He sulked hugely, ate us out of pork n bean Rancheros and grudgingly came to London. I remember it being a really hot day, Lipps Inc's Funky Town was on the radio every half hour and we went to the Tower of London. I had a cricked neck and wore a yellow sweatshirt which I promptly spilled ice cream down. I also wore jeans with red piping down the side. What *was* I thinking? Never heard another word from the German. He's probably head of some charity or something.

That year, my parents moved abroad. After that I visited London a lot. It was terribly exciting for a 16-year-old. This time it was trips to the Virgin Megastore, the Great Gear Market, Kensington Market and everywhere else that held allure. I'd walk down Carnaby Street and try and spot the offices of Smash Hits. I'd go to Harrod's sale. I'd pass scary schoolboys who looked like Grange Hill's Benny Green. I'd dare to venture to Covent Garden - and get the tube to Leicester Square. I saw Diane from Crossroads coming out of Underwoods. I sent a postcard to a friend telling them that I'd got on the tube the wrong way and had to get off at Stockwell "which is nearly Brixton!!!". How daring. Actually that's still daring.

So I kind of always knew I'd end up here. And I'm glad I did. Yes, I find it tiresome at times - the transport problems and the traffic, but it's far outweighed by the nice bits.

I'm not sure why I was moved to post this, but here it is. BTW, that Doctor Who spoof post got about 1000 visits via Digital Spy. People are so gullible.

4 comments:

Planet Mondo said...

My parents were both born and bred Londoners that relocated to Southend in the late sixties - so we used visit London based family all through the seventies . Earliest memories are...

Cookes Pie and Mash shop on Kingsland Road, where I'd watch the live eels being diced and sliced in the window. Ridley Road Market strung with bare bulbs by night. The newsagents that had a rotating rack of Marvel and DC comics (all stamped with T & P 7p in purple ink)and corrugated iron fencing everywhere..

I started doing solo trips into town aged 15 to King's Road, Kensington Market (sometimes Hyper Hyper but a bit pricey), and Carnaby Street where I bought a few shirts from Boy George at The Foundary.

I remember those jeans with piping FC(never had a pair though) - weren't they worn with 'Jam' shoes or perhaps a disco belt. Hawaiian shirts and Cabana bars were big that year too I think.

PS have a peep at this - a few photos from my BOY 1980 mail order catalogue (sold it via ebay a few years back though)

Bright Ambassador said...

Why do people get all misty-eyed about a bus designed in the 1950s that's cold, draughty, dangerous and takes two men to operate?

Wil said...

I was about 14/15 when I first started going to London at the tail end of the '70s. Normally to a big movie and to hit the geeky shops like Dark They Were And Golden Eyed in St.Anne's Court and the (then new) Forbidden Planet in Denmark St. Later after college I spent the first 7/8 years of my working life commuting to Mortimer St., up by Broadcasting House and it was amazing how different it felt after you knew your way around and it all seemed more familar. I loved the place, being given stuff to take down to mags like Vogue and Cosmo (I worked for a little design agency) and finding all the little shortcut streets. It felt like you belonged there. Now I've been away for so long I feel like a tourist again when I visit (although I'm not lost anymore) and it's not the same. I'm taking my 6 year old son to the Science Museum on Sunday and it'll be his first experience of the capital, underground trains 'n' all. I'll probably try to make out I know where everything is and I know what I'm doing :)

Five-Centres said...

He'll be really excited by that, Wil. It'll all be so new. I know what you mean - once you know you're way around, the magic dissipates somewhat.

Love those pics, PM.

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