Now that I'm leaving the Big Smoke I guess this would be the best time to reflect on the last year, here is my London.
I don't know if I can say that will be sad to leave London in June. It's been one of the most interesting 10 months of my life, and has changed me in many different ways. If I look back to when I first touched down in Heathrow on 2 June 2012 I was broke, had one tattoo and was engaged. Now, I'm still broke, but I have collected 21 more tattoos (soon to be 22 - sorry Mum), and I'm definitely not engaged anymore.
London has played a big part in my plans to leave, and in a way brought on my quarter-life crisis. Don't get me wrong, London is a wonderful city, and I've met great people since being here as well as had some amazing experiences, I have:
- Eaten at the highest point of the city
- Drank in Elizabeth Taylor's old haunt
- Attended underground burlesque shows
- Touched the monkeys at ZSL
- Dressed up for the Belle Epoque and Future Cinema
- Oohed and aahed at the pugs in the Harrods' Pet Kingdom
- Looked for Benton in Richmond Park
- Celebrated Diwali in Trafalgar Square
- Sat pondering on Primrose Hill
- And, most importantly, saw HRH Queen Elizabeth II
But no matter how many people you surround yourself with every day, and though the city has 8,164,100 citizens (in 2011), it's a very lonely place.
I read Samuel Johnson's quote on the city shortly after moving "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." It made me realise that I had to enjoy every moment of living here, immerse myself and properly become a Londoner.
I tried. I really did. I partied every night for three months, I woke up in hotels in Knightsbridge, I attended VIP parties, I went to film premieres, I met so many people that it all turned into a blur. One day I woke up and I realised I wasn't happy here, I had my heart set on living in New York, Toronto or Paris, but London was where I ended up. I guess I could never accept it as my home as I always wanted to leave.
Over the last 10 months I've made a list of 'Top 5 Things I Hate About London' and the 'Top 5 Things I Love About London'.
- The morning/evening commute. No honestly, please keep shoving into me and once you've done that I would love it if you then used my shoulder to rest on. It must be very tiring be a grumpy dick.
- No smiles. Everyone looks down in London, and if you look at someone they into turn give you the 'Are you going to mug me?/Do I have something on my face?/Stop looking we're in London' stare.
- The cost. Wow it's an expensive city and what's worse is you begin to get used to it. I once paid £250 for a meal and didn't bat an eyelid.
- Smog. When I first moved down I went into a mild panic when black stuff started coming out of my nose, but after consulting Dr Google I found out that most people have this issue in London, good old fashioned pollution.
- Turn the other cheek. Before I moved down I remember a good friend of mine telling me how she had collapsed in the street in Camden (a highly populated area), and woke up in the same place with people stepping over her. You see in on the tube, an elderly lady will get on and everyone will suddenly become very interested in a column in the Evening Standard.
- Food. Food is my greatest love. My attitude towards it is French - I live to eat. I suppose to an extent eating food is a big reason I'm going gallivanting, but one thing London has impressed me with has been the food.
- Culture.There is so much to do here. Free museums; pop-up galleries; street-art; architecture; but most of all...theatre. I was lucky enough to see Helen Mirren in The Audience; I spent most of it shaking with excitement and trying not to scream 'Be my grandma.'
- British pride. If you were in London during the Olympics you'll know what I mean: love of Danny Boyle, tears for Jessica Ennis, and collective booing for George Osborne. Seeing a city unite and come together was the best way to experience living in the Big Smoke.
- Diversity. There are so many different languages, so many different races that sometimes I find myself overwhelmed with excitement by it all. Before I lived here, the biggest hang-up people had with me was that I was Middle Eastern, now it's because I'm Scottish!
- Boris Johnson. I don't think I really need to finish this sentence do I? Half man, half Ape - one day he will lead the UK into Ping Pong greatness.
I'm looking forward to discovering a lot more of what the city has to offer before I start my journey, and I'll always look back on my time here fondly without a shadow of a doubt.
Someone once said that if you enjoy living in London then you probably have Asperger's. I didn't understand this at the time, but now I do.