by Rachel Stevenson
You can’t argue with London. It is aged, ageless, eternal. It’s not going to change because some people move in from the home counties or the Midlands and complain about the dirt and the expense and the rudeness. It assimilates you, but at the same time, it becomes what you want it to be, what you can find within it. Whether it’s claggy with leaves or sparkling with Christmas, or moving mauve-bruised clouds through the swallow-strewn sky, it’s yours for the asking. It’s an eastern European shouting into a mobile on a heritage Routemaster bus, it’s the squally balladeer in the train station, it’s the scarlet starlit starlet, star of the Soho sin scene, it’s the gleaming and shining Canary Wharf, it’s sitting in Hay’s Galleria watching the grey Thames swim.
Bar smashes, car crashes, drug arrests at Kings Cross. Wimbledon and Lords and Leyton Orient. London is a paddle in the stream of consciousness whilst your train of thought pulls out of the station. It’s the traffic light trees under a marmalade sky; you drink coffee in the dark watching commuters, those unhappy cattle, move doll-like through the streets, facing the slings and arrows of outrageous tube journeys.
London is the zenith and the nadir, the epitome of Britain. It smells of seaweed and vinegar and the sharp catch of diesel in the throat. It has a heat of gold and a heart of mid-loathing. It’s the profit of doom. It’s the pink industrial sunset that also shines over Richmond, Hampstead, Blackheath, and the buildings of New Cross.
Snapshots in your head because the city goes so fast.
Rachel Stevenson moved to London from Doncaster as soon as she could. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.