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Sight Seeing in London

When I like something, I tend to like it quite passionately, vocally and, as much as I try and deny this, obsessively. It is this part of my nature that probably draws me like a magnet to where I grew up (The City, London) whenever I am even vaguely close. Meeting with a friend from university this evening, I found myself, inevitably, marching back to my home turf. Like an addict looking for their next fix I found a perfectly innocuous reason to steer us in that direction – “Oh the view from the bridge is so lovely”, “We could go there for dinner, it’s only a few minutes away”.

Following my nostalgic trip into my past we wandered further along the Southbank to London Bridge, where I left my friend and began to walk off my dinner in the direction of Liverpool Street – the station that takes me home. As I set off, about to cross the eponymous bridge next to the station, I decided to put on some music, and the natural choice seemed to be the Olympics Opening Ceremony Soundtrack (when in Rome and all that). If you know me, even vaguely  you will not be at all surprised by this music choice; the Olympics scores almost at the top of my obsessions.

So I set off on my walk, crossing that famous bridge, looking at the familiar sights of London – Tower Bridge, St Paul’s – juxtaposed with the jagged intrusions on my nostalgic skyline, buildings stretching into the night sky that certainly weren’t there back in my day! The whole evening had been somewhat of this theme, talking with my friend, that I see on a daily basis at uni, about the scary abyss that is life after graduation (a life without our daily catch ups!). I had talked a lot, as I often do, about life in The City and our conversation was a strange mix of past, present and future.

Although we moved from London when I was only nine, it has always felt like home to a certain extent. We moved very quickly due to my father being ill and the move has always felt, on some level, inextricably linked with his illness (which eventually killed him just a few months after we moved). London has held a strange place in my heart, both a home and a very distant memory. Like walking through your primary school years later, the familiarity of the place clanging against the nagging thought that you don’t belong there any more, that your memories belong to a new generation and are no longer your own.

This Summer, for those who have been hiding under a well insulated rock recently, London was about one thing, and for those of us directly involved in ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’, London was a magical place for those couple of weeks (I mean, people were talking to each other on the tube!). So as I walked through the streets that were so evocative of my past, my present (ish) was blaring through my headphones. The city that was so consumed in nostalgia, and complexities that would cost me hundreds of pounds an hour to get my head round was colliding with the city that teemed with excitement and opportunity from last Summer. As I tried to get my head around this new found perspective I found myself looking at the office buildings I was passing and contemplating my future; would I, one day, be one of the workers I saw, so nonchalantly hailing a taxi after leaving the, no doubt, hideously expensive wine bar, as I walked past, thinking about the couple of quid I was saving on avoiding the tube.

It was an odd feeling, but not an unpleasant one. It felt like something shifted tonight, not a huge, life-changing shift, but a subtle one, a difference in the way I perceive a major part of my existence. These changes happen around us all the time. Sometimes they are scary, like the change from seeing yourself as a ‘student’ to realising that the real world is approaching like a freight train. Sometimes it’s sad, like the shift from seeing your dog as a puppy with boundless energy to a greying old man (even though he’s still as lovely as ever). Sometimes though, the change feels more removed, something you observe with curiosity as it washes over you and this change I felt today was a mix of all three.

It’s funny to take a step back and see how much your life has changed. In the time since my last blog post my life has changed hugely,  but it’s hard to see from my own perspective. Your life has probably not changed a huge amount in the time you’ve taken to read this blog post, but I hope you enjoyed reading it nonetheless!