Me and…London

London skyline 2

I grew up in South West London. I think of myself as a Londoner of sorts, but I know that London is a series of villages just sewn together essentially and as such I am still a tourist in many parts of the capital. When I was in my 20s and visited central London with a group of American girls who I’d become friends with at University (in Brighton) I was, embarrassingly, a bit useless as a tour guide and one of the Americans was far more savvy about where we were at any given time.

But I know the parts I know well – I studied at (what was) the London College of Printing in South London at 18 and I did my Masters at City University in Islington, North London, some years later. I have worked at Shell Centre on the South Bank (linked via walkway to Waterloo station) and the Royal Chartered Institute of Surveyors in Parliament Square (my most vivid memory of which was peeking out the window watching Chris Eubank drive his monster truck round the square blaring the horn in protest against the ‘illegal wars’ in 2007 (he later went on to be arrested after parking illegally outside Downing St and nearly colliding with a double decker bus!).

My parents often used to take us to see child friendly musicals and plays at the National Theatre and treat us to meals and days out and about round Covent Garden – a magical place filled with street entertainers and, when I was a child, one of the flagship Body Shop stores, a wooden toyshop like an Aladdin’s cave of treasures and The Covent Garden General Store – where I first discovered the delights of Jelly Belly jellybeans with all their fascinating flavours (Later, during my days working at Shell we used to gather at the Long Island Iced Tea Shop for cocktails if anyone had a hen do or leaving party – and there I discovered even more fascinating flavours!) I discovered Camden as a teenager and adored the series of quirky cool interconnected markets around the canal. I’ve even had one of my book group meetings in the living quarters inside the Tower of London (where one of the girl’s army boyfriends was stationed at the time).

Those are my London credentials if you will, but I have to admit it’s been years since I really enjoyed London life and I miss it. I moved out to darkest Surrey/Hampshire in 2008 and this is where I have started a family.

The hubster is born and bred Surrey though. He had a stint working for BTP out of Waterloo which, it seems to me from anecdotes, mostly consisted of grappling drunks off tube trains and picking up body parts from railway lines. It’s little wonder that he has negative feelings towards this bustling metropolis, but leaves us somewhat  at loggerheads with regards the children. I want to introduce my adorable munchkins to the joys of a city I know and love, he’s not so keen.

London has some amazing fun opportunities for children – I would love to see the wonder in their eyes at the sight of the London Eye, or the excitement at travelling on an underground train or catching a glimplse of the big pelicans in St James’ Park. The museum of transport, the museum of childhood, the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum or twiddling dials and knobs at the Science Museum.

And there are so many things I want to see and places I want to visit too – the Shard wasn’t even built when I last commuted to London.

One day soon…


Losing the muse…On writing

When I was a young teenager I used to love writing so much. I wrote everything from diary entries, to a romance novel, to poetry to a sit-com! My mum was a journalist of sorts and both my mum and dad went to, what was, The London School of Printing (my dad was a graphic artist) so when it came time to decide what to do after school ended I was thoroughly encouraged to apply for a course in journalism at (then) The London College of Printing (now The London College of Communication). I duly applied, was accepted for the interview/testing day and was put through a series of gruelling challenges and an interview which weeded out the less able and was (thrillingly!) accepted onto a two-year Btec HND in periodic journalism.

I enjoyed my time on the course although a lot of what we learned became very quickly obsolete (measuring up a page layout by hand!) just pre-dating the technological revolution (this is back in the early 90s). However out in the real world I found it frustrating and impossible to get the kind of job which I had dreamed of. Technical periodicals were too boring; women’s magazines drove me mad with their recycled material and patronising tone; and I just didn’t consider myself political or intelligent enough for hard news.

In the end I threw in the towel and headed back to full time education, opting for a four year BA in American Literature at Sussex University (American? I hear you ask… well it did include a year Stateside so why not??!). Writing took a distinctly academic turn for me at this point (obviously) and there is a huge gulf between writing off the cuff in a journalistic style and writing planned and cerebral arguments on facets of literature.

I got a little taster of being back in the journalistic saddle round about the turn of the millennium when I got a fabulous opportunity to write and edit the children’s commercial book website The Book Monster which was affiliated to The BookPlace – a site competing with Amazon (on the book front) in the UK. This was a fun and fulfilling highlight of my working life as it also gave me the opportunity to learn some HTML and get an understanding of web structure.

Since that time I have really lost my writing muse as there has been no real outlet until now. With this blog I have begun to enjoy the fact that I can write what I want in any way I choose. I’d like to think that what I have to say is of interest to someone out there but it is quite difficult to gauge in anyway when you get so few comments! I realise that the downside of blogging within any given niche is that your potential audience has literally thousands of other blogs and posts to choose from and this whole social networking is bloody hard work trying to make the magic happen!

Coming back from holiday I have really let it slide for the last week or so as I haven’t been able to find the time or motivation to string a thought together – let alone a thought interesting enough to share with others in an entertaining way!

I’ve just looked through some of my old poetry and wanted to share a bit to find out if I ever really did have a talent for this…To be honest the only one I’m happy to share is this:

Birds of Prey

We drop from the sky and we come in for the kill
we never lose that feeling
the adrenaline, the thrill
the sound of the echoing death cry,
the mixture of the mortal
and immortal so appealing

Our meaning in life,  our purpose, our love,

is not for one another but for our prey
we have the power
and we never need suffer

we haunt by night and we shimmer by day

There isn’t a moment
we don’t feel the wind,
the rain and the moon,
rarely seen through the clouds,
is our brother, unearthly, immortal kin
shining through at last
like a final shroud.

Perhaps this is how it feels to be falling, slowly, deliciously, towards the rocks,
chilling, the speed at which everything changes,
a feeling closer to madness than shock,
omitting the thought that this should be appalling,
like a book omitting its final pages.

Yet we have the power of self preservation, gliding and stalling in frantic turns,
swooping and spiralling with such grace

and we have so little left to learn that our movements will seem like a practiced formation

our fatal blow, a majestic embrace.

Seems I definitely had the muse once…