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Moresby Meanders Observations From an Ongoing Journey

A Prelude to Writing on the Subject of Life in London

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 5 January 2014 | Views [964]

Back in the nineties young people from Australia used to flock to London on the promise of earning good money (in ever strong British Pounds) which would then pay for the travel, adventures, parties and a series of hazy but satisfying remnants of memories built on booze, cheap cocaine, ecstasy and general debauchery. As a young Sydneysider it sounded like a dreamscape. The girls, the parties, Europe at your doorstep, cash flowing effortlessly in to ones open wallet, taps of ale flowing just as effortlessly down ones throat.

That was the nineties. This is now…

I will preface the following discourse on my experience to date of living in London with the following;

I am in the process of settling my differences with this city and am working on a more positive and balanced relationship. Come the end of 2014 London and I will part on amiable terms.

London is not a city that I slot comfortably in to place with. At the end of 2012, newly married with my wife Hilde, we moved sight unseen to East London to settle in our new home with my sister Jessie, her husband Mike and our angelic niece Flux. The move was not so much by choice but more by default on the back of a visa denial from the fairy tale snow-capped socialist dreamscape of Norway. We had met by chance a little over a year previous during a late night “nachspeil” (after party) at the club where Hilde was working in down town Oslo. I, in the following weeks pursued/harassed her until finally and somewhat reluctantly she fell for me. A year later we married in a move to cement our lives together… As it turned out our lives were cemented together on that lovely Norwegian summer day, and then unceremoniously dumped in to the North Sea.

Surfacing a short time later over the pond in the UK, we found ourselves coming to terms with a new and very different environment to cosy, slow paced, sedate Oslo.

London was for me as a newcomer vast, over-crowded, ugly and inhospitable. The first six months were difficult. Dragging myself out of bed each grey winter morning, heading out in to the cold and wet to share an over-crowded tube carriage with a group of equally disgruntled, mostly distant though at times aggressive suburban commuters. At work I would spend fourteen mostly stressful hours, five days a week busting my arse for about four pounds an hour, maximising profit for a boss whose redeeming qualities showed as often as he was sober and/or personable ie. never. The work situation coupled with problems finding people of like mind to socialize with and my wife’s unemployment meant that at the end of a working week after all the bills were paid and money set aside for food and travel, not only did we have just ten pounds extra to spend on “something nice” but also very few friends to share this treat and a bit downtime with. Levels of dissatisfaction with the way our new life in London was heading came to a head in May of last year when the wife and I sick of struggling took the last of our money and fled to China in order to to take some time off, reset and see if we could take another year or more if living in this unforgiving city.

I am now based on experience a firm believer that it takes a minimum six months to find your place in a new city. And if it doesn’t work in the first six months, take stock, take a break, come back, put some changes in to action and see how it treats you then.

Nowadays six months after our return from China I find myself much more at peace. Continually I grow closer to and more affectionate of the cluttered, colourful, charismatic cultural crush that is London. I feel now that I have come to terms with the fact this crazy town owns us for one more year… All drama aside, I do for the most part enjoy living here. But, falling in love with London, or more accurately, falling in to a tolerable state of symbiotic co-existence with London was not easy and was mostly dependent on finding that corner of the city where the brand of living and the pulse of the area and the people matched my own. I at least have found a home away from home, for now. The coming stories of the people, places and events of the last year will detail how I found and came to terms with my little slice of London…

 

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