I have always had a link to London. My mum’s parents lived here, so growing up my family used to visit them every few months. Then, ten years ago, I moved to Charlton to live with Lyn, and through her I got to know south London. Over the last ten years I have got to explore the metropolis for myself, sampling it’s wonders enough to fall in love with it. Yet suddenly those links are both gone: Lyn’s house in Charlton lies empty, as does Yaiya’s in Harlesden, and I cannot escape the feeling I am suddenly alone.
Of course, I still have many friends here, built up over the past decade of adventure. But the two people I most associate with this city and who tied me to it are all of a sudden absent, and I have started to feel that uncanny sense of urban isolation Walter Benjamin wrote of. London will always be a booming, thriving place, even during lockdown, and sooner or later I know the fun I now associate with this city will return. It won’t be the same, though, as that link will not be there. I doubt things will ever be the same, as London, for me, will have changed.
Looking out over the city from Greenwich Park earlier, as I have many times before, I saw a view I now know well: greenwich Palace, the Thames, The Dome, the growing forrest of skyscrapers at Canary Wharf. Perhaps it was the changing air pressure or grey skies, but things seemed different. Now I have this house and I am settling in to my new life here in Eltham, the idea of moving again any time soon is of course ridiculous. But with any link I had to this city now gone, things feel more lonely, and I must admit the thought of moving on to discover new adventures elsewhere has occurred to me more than once of late. The city has brought me so much fun, joy and happiness over my time here, and indeed may bring yet more; but with the person I most associate with those times no longer here, perhaps by the end of this decade my life in the metropolis will have run it’s course.