London is a miserable town. The kind that permeates its misery throughout every muddy field, every leafless tree, every dark street, every lonely flat, and every dark, damned, dirty alley.
Passers-by walk in gloomy, crowded streets – heads down and shoulders hunched – bumping past each other without acknowledgement. There are no smiles. No banter. No hellos or goodbyes. Just thousands of people, hurriedly passing through a world of their own. They aren’t happy; they have merely accepted this life of collective solitude. Not excited, not angry, not bothered.
London is a miserable old town. At least it has felt like that since the turn of the New Year. And it has been hard not to be enticed by its begrudging spell. It’s curse. Dark and dour and seemingly pointless; the days never seem to begin. Everyday is filled with tepid battles: getting out of bed, going to work, talking to people. Facing other people means facing more misery. Let’s agree to stick to our own.
Day after day after meaningless day. The darkness is all the same.
However, yesterday when I woke something felt different. Eyes open, I realised that I had awoken naturally, rather than being ripped from my slumber from my incessant electronic xylophone that is my iPhone alarm. On any other day I would close my eyes, desperate to squeeze another couple of minutes of sleep. However, on this day I laid in my bed, restless. An acute balminess lingered in the air; a warm glow danced behind the window blinds.
I needed to get up.
Within twenty minutes I was dressed, ready, and out in the street. As I turned the corner out of our alley way, I immediately squinted; the sun smacked me in the face. I put my hand up to shield the light and looked up at the sky. Nothing but blue for miles.
Dogs barked, birds chirped, crickets sang, and I strutted down the street with my head held high, whistling dixie down the cobbled streets. I passed cyclists, delivery men, window washers, shop owners, and fellow office workers making their trek into the city. Each of them greeted me with a familiar style.
“Good morning, governor!” I yearned to bellow, tipping my imaginary bowler hat to each fine citizen I passed in the glowing city. Everyone had their head held high. I was Dick Van Dyke, skipping down the street, swinging on lamp posts, clicking my heels in the air and bursting into song; the cyclist and the delivery man and the window washer and the shop owner and the office worker harmonised in support of my whimsical show.
Half way through my twenty-minute walk to work, I had to take my jacket off. At eleven degrees Celsius I was joyously perspiring. The day would later peak at a sweltering twenty degrees.
“Woof, double digits!!” I exclaimed to the room when I reached my office, “I’m getting a serious sweater.”
Friend or stranger, everyone I ran into was a charming delight. Everyone lived for the day and no time was wasted. At lunch, people came far and wide to bake in any patch of green that could be found. And in the afternoon, the people spilled out onto the streets to share a pint.
London is a marvellous city. The kind that sink underneath your skin and makes you tingle all over. You want to stroll through the secret laneways, investigate the lively markets, frolic in the suburban meadows. I am really going to miss this city.
Until it starts raining tomorrow and I remember how miserable the bitch can be.