Tuesday, 28 April 2015

What is Living London?

Living London is...
...visiting St Christopher's Chapel at Great Ormond Street Hospital on a late weekday afternoon
....its sitting in silence on a church pew and thinking about all the people who have sat on the same pew before you....
....it's flicking through a leaflet on its history and finding a photo of a Naomi Blake sculpture at the back...
....and moments later its finding yourself outside the small gallery where you met her one night, Naomi Blake.... back when you went with someone who worked at St Ethelburga's, someone you met by chance at Whitecross Estate and shared an otherworldly conversation with about ammonites and Al Ghazali....
Living London is.....
door knocking at Alverston estate and being invited in for tea by an elderly Venezuelan resident who enjoys growing flowers in his window boxes...
...its learning from the gardener who worked there that the railings are made from stretchers used to carry the injured during the second world war...
and then it's dropping into the dance studios on your way back to the office and seeing her son and her long lost friend in a white room upstairs....
Living London is bumping into people you know everywhere you go, street corners, stations, nature reserves, cafes...
Living London is trespassing
its treading rooftops and climbing over gates
Its tagging along to various sites, the chalk hill and the green beside the railway line, with your friend the conservation land officer at the London Wildlife Trust who you met one time and a hundred times after that....
its waiting at the corner of a road in Brixton for the land-rover to pull up
its muddy boots and the smell of fire
it's long walks and bustling markets
its discovery.
Living London isn't about making plans, but following your feet and seeing where they lead you...
it's talking to dippy at the Natural History Museum in the evening once everyone's gone home
it's taking a nap in the theatre at the London Wetland Centre during your break
it's making friends with a community of Nepalese gardeners at a secret green space in the suburbs and speaking to them in broken Hindi about home
It's about sharing the stories of all the people who lived and worked by the river wandle... and connecting them to your own....
It's meeting mayors and mps and artists and writers and film makers and bee keepers and janitors and wardens, and ecologists and humanitarian workers and poets, and bums and dreamers and seekers.
It's connections proceeding connections.  
Living London is watching the sunrise from a high place as the whole city sleeps
It's traipsing in wild parks in storms
It's the time before you start work and the time after you finish 
It's traversing nowhere spaces late at night, subways and tunnels 
It's hospital and prison waiting rooms.
It's being open to the city and the opportunities that lie within it
It's witnessing. It's observing. It's being.
It's conversing with strangers.
It's following your intuition and living in the moment
It's nostalgia.
It's memories imprinted on chairs and etched on walls, and written on grass throughout the city.
It's turning up a friends place in a random corner of the city with your overnight bag.
It's going to random talks and events
It's traversing hundreds of different worlds.
Living London is carving out new paths every day and discovering new places and making them your own, it's finding the stories within them....
Living London is connecting the dots
It's lying in mosques with no names, staring at the ceiling, it's reading the Quran in parks and woods
It't talking to professor j, the ethiopian bushman about the spiders web
It's swimming in pools, wandering through cemeteries, listening to bird song, thinking about life and death...and everything in between
Living London is about being curious
It's about the imagination. Its about imagining
It's listening to an old Indian song your mum would sing at an exhibition on migration, and watching the boy sell attar afterwards by the bus stop at elephant
Living London is knowing where you can find different ethnic communities in London and it's being a stranger and a friend within and among these communities.
Living London is knowing people from all continents
Living London is being comfortable alone in the city.
Living London is being in constant awe of its ever changing character
Living London is feeling at home everywhere you go
Living London is feeling like a stranger everywhere you go
Living London is knowing London like the back of your hand
Living London is not knowing London at all.
Living London is living life in London

We all live London (well those of us who live in London), but we live it differently

Living London shares my London, the way I live it, the stories I've come by, the places I've visited, the people I've met.

I guess this is what Living London is.