Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Londoner at heart

I moved to Calgary four years ago from London (England) after purchasing a house on a whim on holiday the year before. That's right, we bought a house on a whim. Who does that? Um, me? Us? Impulsive - yes. But right, as it turns out. Calgary was J's city - he was born and raised here. Now it's my city too. And despite it being a city of long, cold winters, Stampede madness and oil and gas infatuation, I've come to like it. I'll tell you why another time.

I left my life in London - a life I remember as being full and involved, one that took me to all corners of the City and more windy streets than a Dickens novel. A life that, within the space of one day, was completely erased. Sometimes I think of life still going on there as usual, and it's odd.

London doesn't care. London is the grand city, the magnificent, intimidating city. Its history is richly embedded in every brick and every paving stone in its majestic streets. Its architecture - an eclectic side-by-side amalgamation of old and modern. Its buildings cast imposing shadows over its workers, residents, tourists. Life moves fast there, unforgiving.

I loved London. And I detested it.

I worked for a top PR firm in the West End; I was in a choir and sang in the City's concert halls; I lived in a loft apartment in a 16th Century school house conversion in a nice part of town; I lived in a flat barely large enough to swing a cat in a ropey part of town; I swam in the Waldorf's swimming pool four times a week; I commuted on dirty, overcrowded, overheated underground trains every day; I brushed shoulders with celebrities so often it wasn't remotely interesting any more.

In the hopes of illustrating the London I remember, I rummaged through old digital files. But I didn't find a shot of the Soho street where my favourite Thai restaurant lived, or the road my office was on, or the road between my office and Covent Garden where I walked most days for a coffee, or the pub where I first shared a beer with J, or the stretch along the South Bank where we used to walk.

I found these random shots instead.

The "Gherkin" - Richard Rogers design, post modern.

Fitzrovia, the BT tower in the background.

Greenwich Museum

Houses of Parliament (Iraq war protest march)

Canterbury Cathedral - okay not in London, but one of my all time favourite English Cathedrals.

This is the car we owned before moving to Calgary.

A little Ford "Ka". They're not even sold in Calgary - the City where the SIZE OF YOUR VEHICLE MATTERS. Where Hummers and giant trucks would laugh at my little "Ka" and squish it with one wheel.

This is J in the publishing house he worked for. Looking very swanky and professional (and hot, if I might add).

I couldn't find a picture of me in my old job, so you'll just have to imagine me sitting at a desk, talking on the phone and looking very industrious and important. Yeah.

Or, here's a picture of me dressed as a nun. Will that do?

Thirty minutes before this shot was taken, late for the fancy dress party because of some stupid client deadline, I (far left) jumped in a black taxi with another faux nun and proceeded to get changed out of my work outfit and into my nun outfit in the taxi, much to the horror of the cab driver.

In true cabbie style, the driver peered over his shoulder and said to me, "'Ere, love, you're not gonna keep doin' that are ya? I've got people lookin' in 'ere wondrin' what the 'ell's goin' on!".

Fun times in London town.
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Mwa said...

I'm thinking of going to visit friends in London in a couple of weeks. Nice to see some pictures. For us Europeans, you should do one on Calgary, too. Would be nice to see the difference.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Beautiful pics! I just came back from the US and appreciate London even more now. Didn't know that the supersized cars apply for Canada, too.
Have a post about being back in London in the making. Will try and find some nice pics for you to cheerish a little bit of sentimentality :-)

Canadian Bald Guy said...

I visited London way back in 1990 as part of a drama group from my high school. LOVED it!

Once I'm back online on more than a Blackberry, I'll go through my archives and write a post.

Anonymous said...

I miss everything good and bad about living there. I really do miss it! The decision to move to Canada for us was basically purely financial.

James (SeattleDad) said...

I enjoyed this post. I have never visited, but I really want to some day. I read a lot of historical fiction and much of it is set there. There would be so much to see. Not sure I would want to live there but visiting has an alure.

And you make a very convincing Nun I must say.