Sunday, June 04, 2006

First steps


In six days time I will leave London.

Today the grass in Soho Square was smothered in half naked perfect bodies, boys entwined and squinting, into sunlight through the right sunglasses and cocaine hangovers. 50 quick stares as I walked down the path. Acceptance. Visual identification confirmed - this is the true retinal imaging. Grateful for my long sleeves and short hair.

I wonder whether a week from now I would feel like an imposter in that spot. An outsider. Paying my council tax to the wrong borough to have any right to feel at home in Soho. Entering via a portal at Waterloo Station - as I have many times before - but now coming when I should be going, going when I should be coming.

Waiting for a friend. She lives in Glasgow, was born in Norfolk but feels her heart belongs in London. There - I am already doing it - homogenising the capital city as if Camden and Brick Lane and Wapping and Shepherds Bush were alike. I was born in Glasgow, but like her, I feel a stranger there. A stranger everywhere really. A stray.

I am guessing that in Surrey the world will be the same, more or less. More Daily Telegraphs. Less hair wax.

I came-out in London, and whilst the internal battle was bloody and violent, the external world was accepting and ready. Even in the old-man's pubs in the east end. Clumsy but unafraid. There is a white pigeon in the park - well, white underneath the grey staining of dust and dirt across it's feathers. I wonder if it knows how different it is?

This will be my fifteenth home in 30 years. My first step outside of London for nearly a decade. Swapping the Thames for the Wey, parks for forest, corner shops for chickens and a garden. I cannot keep houseplants alive - how will I cope with a garden? My dog and cat have been briefed. For the cat it will be first steps outside after five years of city loft living. I hope she will be brave. I hope I might be too.

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