Well here it is the end of an era. Tonight marks my final ever night as a London resident after ten years. A decade that saw me grow, love, lost and learn.
When I awoke on January 1st 2000 I knew that my life had to change, it was not just a new year it was a new millennium and it was a day that none of us will ever see again. I was in the middle of a divorce, I married far too young and looking back it was simply the biggest mistake of my life. I was in a dead end job and everything had to change.
Bristol was like having two hands around my neck that were grabbing me harder each day and all I wanted to do was breathe again. It was the time to make a change and the change was immediate. Within three days I had a job transfer and I had moved to London. I knew nobody and it was the start of what was to be the biggest decision of my entire life.
I remember living in a tiny house in Elephant and Castle, it was small had a kitchen so small that if you blink you would have missed it. A bathroom with no lock on and I lived with twelve people from countries such as Bulgaria, Finland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Before that I had only ever shared with a maximum of two people. Yet looking back at that first year it was without a doubt the best year of my life and it’s a testament that I am still in touch with several of those people know and I have no doubt we will see each other again.
It was at this time that I began to form a new relationship with my ex. She was a very nice person but I was coming out of a marriage and was in my mid twenties, she was 20 and had flown around the world from Australia to London. Looking back there were things that went wrong, there were times where I was an idiot, there were times where she was. But looking back it was a five year relationship that we both needed and though our paths have not crossed since we broke up, I hold no grudges.
I have been lucky enough to live in some amazing places, the year I lived in Acton was one of the most memorable summers of my lives and the four that I spent living in Canary Wharf were without any doubt the four years that changed my life the most.
One of things that I will always remember about London is that friends come and go very quickly, unlike living in a place like Bristol where you would see the same people each day no matter if you were at work, in the shops, out socialising or on the bus London is such a big city that you rarely see the same person twice. It’s a very large place to live and nearly all will stay for several years then either remain forever or go back home.
There were some great days, there were some dark days. I will never forget July 7th 2005 as long as I live. Being caught up in a terrorist attack united the most cosmopolitan city in the world like never before. The united front that London put on was typical of London, some sixty years before they stuck two fingers up at Hitler and this was no different. London is a place that you can hit but you cannot destroy, it’s too strong, it’s too powerful and it’s too stubborn.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world and have been to some of the world’s largest cities, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Rio, Sydney, Paris and many more. Some are far larger than London but there is not city that has the diverse charm that London has. If I had to describe it as a person it would be a vibrant and happy person that had some baggage yet never told the same story twice.
It made me the man I am today. Some of the places that stand out for me as being the happiest of my life are Bow, Greenwich, Acton, Ealing, Camden, Crossbarbour and of course Elephant and Castle. I met and lost so many people here from the bar staff that served me, the people I lived with, the shop staff, the ex work colleagues all of you have put a footprint that will remain with me for eternity.
Yet alas it all has to come to an end. I’ve fallen in love with Sweden and that is now my home, for how long I do not know, I hope forever. But one thing will always remain in my heart.
Though I was born in a different place, the fact I spent 75% of my life in Bristol and now I am living in Sweden one thing remains. The ten years that I spent in London were without any question the best ten years I will ever have.
London, my city, my life, my home. I am a proud Londoner and forever will be.
London I love you. Goodbye and thank you.