Funny, how the same city can mean different things to different folks. More and more I feel this ancient settlement is not merely a network of streets, of age old brick juxtaposed with sparkling glass, of tube train after tube train hurtling through darkened passageways, of river, railway, road.
It is stories – all our stories – yours, mine, his, hers. A vast patchwork quilt of living, loving, losing. Stories piled up layer on layer, criss-crossing, intersecting, diverging.
I sit on the tube with my hair on my head, book in my lap and a favourite song playing in my ears. And all too often I find myself distracted, quietly looking around me, stealing secret glances at my fellow passengers – wondering about their stories, and who they are. Who do they go home to? What will they cook for tea? Do they sleep alone or wake in the night to tiptoe down the hallway to check on the baby sleeping sweetly in its cot?
And what is my story? My London? It’s many things – window boxes, winter sunlight forming patterns across the brick. It’s fingers turned blue from the cold. And the end of the tube platform (it’s emptier there). It’s delight in the orange leaves, walking along the Broadwalk, kiss-filled farewells in the hall of Waterloo, hands held tight together on the Southbank. Sometimes it’s crying on the tube (it happens) and sometimes it’s the simple grace of knowing your story is one of millions, the humility and astonishing nature of that fact.
And isn’t Westminster at sunset just beautiful?