The Circle.

Dear London,

I’ve been avoiding you. I haven’t really been here, with you. You’ve become a place I don’t want to come back to. Even on a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham town center with last night’s wine pressing up my neck, this is where I’d rather be.

It’s the thrill in the new that draws me away from you, that feeling, that first touch of hands, eyes meet, lips part, unexplored, unfamiliar territory. Excitement, not knowing what is to come.

Home has never felt like you, never in you, home has never found a comfortable place on my lips. And now there’s a possibility, a settling after the thrill, that if I can just get there, I’ll find a home. Weekend over, Birmingham behind, car, train, tube, wrong train, cold outside a station that I know but have never been before (the unexplored still in you) car.

I’m back with you, back again to the same walk, same journey, the same worries, the empty fear of a Saturday night.

And then.

Late night, late drinks, after a tourist packed evening. Mid week, that’s London. Night bus home. 53.

Top of the bus, at the front, tourists seats. You put on a show for me with twinkling lights and a clear way home. And I remember.

Two years ago, maybe more, the snow grinding everything to a stop, standstill. No buses, no tubes, no way home. Not to Greenwich. Announcing it to the people waiting fruitlessly, who turned on us like we were TFL ourselves.

Walked to Islington in cheap just bought boots, one feet, two feet of snow, followed by a young boy, who knew nothing of London, of you. Picked up a cab to Stoke Newington that skidded on black ice.

And I remember. Before the snow, a year before. Maybe more. It’s seems I’ve been here longer than I thought.

Standing at that bus stop with tears in my eyes, for once not caring, or numbed to caring over who saw me. Conversations that shouldn’t be had so late at night, in door ways of  shops, and running away, or walking briskly in hope of pursuit,  to get all the way back to south of the river. On the 53. A man begins talking to my closed eyes, and then backs away when I open them with warning red rims.

And more recent.

A poor picked up tourist, who knew not where he was, picked up by a predatory girl just to feel the touch of a strangers skin. On the 53, panic sets in as a realisation dawns that London, that you, are bigger than Zone 1. Then nearly left him in the suburbs on his own, his exit of the bus too fast, mine too slow. Doors slammed in his face, and the panic of a man that does not even begin to know where he is. Hospitality. London style.

But this week, this journey, I spend with a friend in chatter oiled in alcohol. Early exit from the friend, fiddle to put music in to soundtrack the rest of my travel. And soundtrack it does, in perfect synchronicity.

A bridge at the top my road, a fly over, over a dual carriage way that looks out to the glittering skyline of the east. Canary Wharf, The Dome o2, new builds, some of the Excel Centre.

Spent New Years here on this bridge once, first new year in Greenwich. Traffic stopped on the bridge itself, cars beeped on the dual carriageway below. We handed out pink cava in plastic cups to passenger drivers (met with some suspicion) and fizzy soft drinks to tired children. Free fireworks exploded over the dome. Held hands and sang to the cold winds and industrial estates.

Friends remind me..what that New Year you made me stand on a bridge over a motor way.

But tonight I’m all alone, thoughtfully (always thoughtfully at 4am on a thursday morning) smoking a cigarette with alcohol infused romance making sense of the song in my ears.

‘If I turn my coat to the rain,

I don’t know,

but I’m going somewhere I can warm my bones’

A sense of filmic exuberance as I survey the city,  bound up with that particular drunken clarity. I love that I can never see your corners, they stretch out so far, and each part of you is different, not comparable. And a slight a hesitation. Maybe it’s not you as a whole I need to leave,  just the South. The song trips back in..and I know, and I know, that you are not for me and it’s the right time to leave. And yes that is an Ocean Colour Scene song I’m listening to, I’m quoting. I can’t help myself, I learnt my taste in the 90’s.

 

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