The confidence of London

I think I have written on here before about how I once saw London as a big, scary, intimidating place. I grew up in a relatively small town in the north west of England; a ten minute powerchair ride from our old family home would find me trundling down a lane between fields. Every few weeks, though, we would drive to London to visit my Greek Cypriot grandparents up in Harlesden; their house was where I was yesterday. Dad would drive me, mum and my brothers down for a weekend, but I remember always finding the metropolis huge and intimidating, far preferring the quiet green fields of Cheshire to the concrete sprawling labyrinth.

I got back to my place here in Eltham an hour or so ago. It was a nice, straightforward trip: a bus up to Wembley Park, the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich and then another bus to Eltham. All accessible and unproblematic. Having lived in London for eleven years now, I find I can move around the city with increasing confidence. That isn’t to say it’s perfect: nowhere near enough tube stations are wheelchair accessible, so TFL still have a lot of work to do. But when such problems crop up, I am now confident that I can find a work-around so I can get to where I want to go.

If I had been told, aged fifteen or so, that I would one day be living on my own in London, I would not have believed it. Back then the thought of always living with my parents brought me great comfort; the idea of riding the tube or even the bus on my own would have struck me as absurd – surely I needed help to do such things. That attitude began to change when I went to university, but it was completely thrown out of the window when I met Lyn and moved in with her. Living in Charlton with Lyn changed my perspective completely, both towards London and in terms of what I am capable of. I found I could organise my life, live how I wanted, and do what anyone else could, without needing the support of mum and dad. All of a sudden I had a huge great metropolis to explore, full of life and culture. I will always thank my lucky stars that I met Lyn; zark knows what I would be doing right now if I hadn’t. Thanks to Lyn, thanks to London, I know I’m capable of living my own life on my own terms, just like anyone else.

And so here I am, a happy, independent Londoner, just returned from a nice weekend with his parents (my brother Luke visited yesterday too), competent enough to live alone and navigate his way through one of the world’s greatest cities. A place which was once so frightening is now enthralling: if only that timid fifteen year old knew what I know now.

One thought on “The confidence of London

  1. Nice post Mat.
    I think that thought is valid for all of us.
    If we knew then What we know now…
    And the biggest lesson, in my point of view is..
    Chat to older People… they tell stories and give you perspectives that youngsters don’t have.

    Liked by 1 person

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