Ten years in London: a love letter

To you, dear London…in all your glamour, glory, guts, grunge and gore; thank you for a decade of awesome. You’ve given us holidays, history, gigs, grandeur, 24-up Dr Martens, fun, friends and laughter in gallons. You’re the home we choose; the mother city of four-almost-five EPIC children who will grow up enriched by your generosity, creativity and beauty, and challenged by the stoicism that has lasted you through the ages.

I’ve meandered your streets, marvelling at the breadth of your brilliance and cringing at the scent of your squalor – an idiosyncratic narrative that makes you exactly and precisely you. I’ve adventured down your labyrinthine passages, pondering the voices that have echoed in and out of existence as time has passed but you have remained.

I’ve stood in the spot where the blood of Anne Boleyn’s severed head splashed on the cheeks of a sanguine crowd; I’ve empathised as the Phantom of the opera raises his voice and soul for the heart of Christine and I’ve gaped at the prowess of St Paul’s majestic dome and the might of Westminster’s indomitable Abbey. I’ve touched the same stone that was caressed by the Great Fire and remembered the petrifying plague that scourged your people. I’ve sat under Big Ben in the freezing cold, relishing the sparks bursting from your great Eye on New Year’s Eve. I’ve walked the in the steps of Jack the Ripper and stood where Sweeney Todd once sliced his clients and sold them as man-pies. I’ve shopped Oxford street and strolled along Tower Bridge in the ice-cold snow. I’ve visited the Globe, immersing myself in the stagecraft of the world’s most famous bard more times than is appropriate, or fair. I’ve watched boys squabble over a conch at your Open Air theatre and listened to the trees murmur in the heat of Hampstead Heath on a summer’s day.

It’s a verbose list that transcends the scale of paragraph and even memory. But it’s also the little things, quiet moments…

…observing a two-toed pigeon navigating spikes placed on the ancient buildings of Fleet Street, inserted to thwart its landing; gazing upon the lights cast by architectural stalwarts on the river Thames, and catching site of the grand Springbuck marking the entrance to the South African embassy at Trafalgar square and remembering all that’s been left behind.

London, you’ve hurled smog and smoke into my lungs and challenged my notion of space. I’ve lived with a lunatic, almost given birth on Tottenham Court Road, worked in a building guarded by two great cement cats and become a writer. Your immeasurable strangeness has nurtured my independence and put mediocrity in a corner (where it will forever remain). You’ve made me think, feel and love in ways that only the sheer immensity of your equivocal essence could do.

In ten years, dear London, you’ve offered up metal in abundance – an insanity of live-gigging preposterousness that I’ve breathed into the core of my being with ecstatic reverence. You’ve sent me to Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, Germany…collecting oranges from the streets of Seville, inhaling Christmas from the markets in Cologne, drinking wine in Chianti, sweltering in the sun on the streets in Assisi and wilting under the sheer grandiosity of Rome. And you’ve given me art – that which keeps my soul alive.

And I’ve not lived my dreams alone…

To my homie – my bestie, my love; s’always been you and me, babe. And this journey – the saga of us…I love it; I love it with you, and there’s still more to come! #excitedemoji

To my treasures…Amelia, Layla, Jackson, Aiden and to you, Delilah; thank you for making life sparkle, and reminding me of what it’s all about – each and every day.

To my brothers – you know shit just isn’t real without you knuckleheads keeping it that way. I am so glad you moved your asses out of comfort and into crazy.

To our parents – thank you for letting us go.

To my friends…new and old – I am me because you are you.

And to the ones who enabled our survival…to David and Alison – for our first home and blankets when we were cold (literally). To Ted and Michelle – for our first Christmas and plates to eat off (and anything else that goes in a kitchen). To our church – for love, peace and sanity. To Fauzia – for the hilarity (I hope you’re still wearing a bicycle helmet and eating cake at 3pm).

Dear  London, you are good – weird and crazy and marvellous…and good. Thank you for your dedication to the bizarre, and thank you for having us; here we will remain.