As you know, I have made some changes in my life this year. I’ve changed jobs, I’ve changed countries.
When people asked me where I was going, I said, “Oh, it looks like I’m ending up in London,” nose wrinkling, tongue tutting, shoulders shrugging.
Now it’s not that I didn’t like London. I have fond memories of growing up here; of going to Ernest Read Concerts for Children at the Royal Festival Hall, my sister and I wearing matching M&S coats; of queuing up outside nightclubs in a short skirt and open-toe shoes (when I was a little older); of shopping at Topshop at Oxford Circus when I started spending my pocket money on clothes.
And every time I watched Love Actually I would, for a few hours, consider making London my home again.
But when you’ve lived somewhere for two-thirds of your life, it just doesn’t seem so exciting to go back there.
I wanted to go to New York, or to Singapore, darling. Dreams of Broadway and Central Park, of orchids and weekend trips around Asia.
After nine years in quality-of-life bubble Geneva, I wanted excitement. I wanted action. I wanted hot men (or just different men really). I wanted to leave the familiar behind and enter the wide unknown. To begin a new adventure. To infinity and beyond. Or something.
My point, dear friend, is that I misjudged you. Or maybe I misjudged myself. Nine years away have given me a new appreciation of what you have to offer. You are not a second choice or a back-up plan. You are a numero uno, a lead option, a goal to strive for.
Life here is so convenient. Shops are open on Sundays. There is more than one high street, there are more than two department stores. You don’t have to go to the same restaurant every weekend. There are English TV channels as standard. I have access to BBC iPlayer. In fact, people speak English even off the telly.
So much for the basics. But there’s more.
Oh, West End, how could I have forsaken you for the neon lights of Broadway?! Cameron, Andrew, will you ever forgive me?
St Paul’s, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, you are just as beautiful and impressive as the architectural delights of Manhattan and Singapore.
And there are as many songs to be sung in this city as in New York – London Calling, Streets of London, Waterloo (okay not actually about London), Piccadilly Circus (another Swedish one but a goodie), not to mention the classic, Feed the birds, tuppence a bag… London’s Burning as well if you’re feeling dark. Plus, you can say “London, baby!” everywhere you go.
All in all, not a bad place to be.
So London: I’m sorry. I shall speak ill of you no more. I hope you will accept my apology and continue this great new friendship that we have just (re-)begun.
I can’t promise to stay forever, but for now you’ll do nicely.
P.S. The apology still stands, even though you tried to kill me with a hail storm this afternoon.