1: The Move
Someone you met once at a party has a friend who has a sublet. Besides falling victim to card clash, you feel fresh and alive.
Have you SEEN the view from Westminster Bridge at dusk? You even found a bar that serves cocktails in jam jars. AND you saw Richard Madely in Waitrose!
After years of colouring yourself in to Carnaby crowds, you are finally part of this heaving, Soho-neon, sexy-Napolean-tide of ambition. Congrats!
2: The Temporary Bar Job
You take a Front of House job to pay for your newly dented overdraft. You see some incredible theatre for free and sell an ice cream to the actor who plays Phil Mitchell. Yes!
You walk home by the bustling canal where log burner smoke cuts across gas towers in a mis-match of hipster vibes and Dickensian London.
3: Realisation - The Richard Curtis version of London is A GODDAMN LIE!
You repeat the daily mantra:
“Pulling pints is a necessary struggle in the romantic pursuit of success”.
You’re mugged in Notting Hill whilst searching for Richard Curtis’ London. Nowhere do you find a (surviving) local book shop, a Hollywood actress at a dinner party, or the ‘last brownie’…just Aldi brand cake mix and a stuck together recipe.
4: The Love Affair
You end up bonking one of the new, 22 year olds they’ve taken on at work. London is once more illuminated with lights and cranes and billboards. They lead you through Dalston shortcuts to that rooftop bar (recently suggested by TimeOut).
You watch the endearing creases of his face over sushi and sake as you try to keep him. You flirt with the idea of sharing a nearly-affordable one-bed in Finsbury Park. Even the Thames is aflame with molten, fingered JOY.
5: Unsinkable Debt
With your mum as rent guarantor, you now share the one-bed in Finsbury Park with a lawyer and an out of work actor (the Ex left you for a TV presenter who knows Alexa Chung).
Your sleeping arrangements remind you of the Beastie Boys cover (that your housemates are too young to remember).
You chip away at your chosen career in lunch breaks and curse the midday shadows of St Pauls. You curse every Pret a Manger between Cheapside and Piccadilly and spit on the limestone plinths of markable men who were able to make it work.
You take a Saturday job teaching children, not because you ‘want to give back’ but because those student loan repayments aren’t going to pay themselves.
Whilst old Uni mates invest in “soon to be gentrified’ Walthamstow, you laugh and snort Jager bombs through your eyeballs. You’d rather spend your cruddy pay on a course in the ancient-art-of-something (that has nothing to do with your degree) and your Tuesday nights become a totem of survival. Whilst everyone on your course is either gay or un-shaggable, you drink in each other’s mirth. You finish the course knowing nothing but the fact that Walthamstow will NEVER be gentrified and that shagging strangers is the only antidote to a soulless-temp-job-existence.
7: Questioning Who You’ve Become
You lose your shit at an old lady who is walking slowly towards an escalator. You suspect you are not nice anymore when you avoid the gaze of a pregnant woman at rush hour. Baby on Board badge? I’m going to need more proof than that, pal.
You think it might be time to leave London when you go to a bar and they serve you a Bloody Mary in a bloody jam jar.
8: You Escape!
You search Gumtree for rooms in Brighton and divert to cockles and candy floss. You Instagram your legs on the beach, gloating “Tube strikes? What tube strikes?” #Suckers
A temporary bar job pays four pound less than London but you can walk home after a shift.
You travel back and forth to house parties in Hackney, laughing at city-slickers.
Something inside of you aches when you cross bridges. Looking at the Shard from the base of its shaft make you feel tiny but significant and you’re overawed once more with the allure of polluted fayre.
9: The Ghastly Return
One way ticket to London Victoria pour vous, NOT publicised on Facebook. You slip back in to the rhythm of city life. Low key. Casual.
Whilst you can’t afford to watch the new, site specific, Punch Drunk piece or the Bowie tribute at Hot Tub cinema, knowing that it is happening in your city, is comfort enough.
You’re in the thick of it! The beating heart! You accidentally ram your trolley into Judy Finnegan in Lidl and note how haggered she looks.
You wake up and realise that you’re 40. You no longer pour pints! Wahey!
Whilst brewing coffee for the boss, you glance out to the buzzing, streets of Walthamstow, awash with preened man brows. You Instagram the coffee pot and hashtag ‘decaffeinated Wednesday’.
Tonight, you start a new course in Ming Vases in the Post-Modern era. Who knows who you will meet? Anything is possible here in the land of opportunity! Acceptance slips through your veins like mercury in a tepid thermometer.
These salt blasted streets are yours!
The raggy red lanterns of China Town? Yours!
The pithy parks with dinosaurs? Yours!
You stood the test of time! You head back to the room you’re renting from an old Uni mate near Blackhorse Road and smile to yourself. OK, the tube is sticky in June and yes, no one knows your name but you are self-made (and breathing).
You look up to the Shard (you can't afford to go in) and smile.
Yes, my friend. It is true…YOU ARE A LONDONER!