One Friday just before Christmas I schlepped my fancy camera to work. The air was clear and the sunshine bright as I stepped out of the building at lunchtime, the weight of the camera heavy around my neck.
Turns out Primrose Hill in the Friday sunshine is really the prettiest. It was the most perfect hour; the shadowy spines of the winter trees casting ghostly silhouettes against the pale blue sky. A black cat was befriended and a Jamaican man playing ‘Every little thing’s gonna be alright’ under the canal bridge made me smile (and even dance a little! I know…me!)
And, as a tabby cat wound its way around my ankles, I realised something quite essential.
For when I say I loathe London, I tell myself a small but significant untruth. Yes, I loathe the bright lights and the crush on the Strand. I loathe the tourist trap that is the South Bank and the ribbon of buses fighting their way across Waterloo Bridge. I loathe Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square.
But this London, North London, my London – this small pocket of London is a different entity entirely.
This London of community, and neighbourhood, uniformed schoolchildren skipping along the streets, black cats on doorsteps, people laughing outside the local pub, wreaths tied lovingly to front doors. This is Freud’s London, and Plath’s – Yeats’ London, once home of Keats, Dickens, Blyton, Byron. Good company, don’t you think?
This London, this London surely I can love.