I was born a Londoner, raised a Londoner, and lived in London until fairly recently. I even worked in London until January. It would be fair to say that I was comfortable in a city 'ecosystem'. Now, however, I live in a small village, in the valley of a river known to relatively few, and the biggest place that I visit regularly is Ipswich, population less than 150,000. I don't even really go there, as my office is between the station and the town centre. Life is gentler, slower if you prefer.
Today, I had reason to go to London. A former colleague was having his retirement lunch, and I fancied seeing Ros (I know, I just miss having her around...). So, it was off to Stowmarket to catch the 9.29. Or not, as National Express East Anglia welcomed me by cancelling it, leaving me to catch the 9.44 and change at Ipswich. Nonetheless, it was a perfectly charming journey in the spring sunshine.
And then I arrived at Liverpool Street... There were people... everywhere, crowds of them, some of them moving rather quickly as I pottered amongst them. The Circle Line train was dirty and uncared for, and the station attendant at Euston Square was unhelpful and ill-informed. There was traffic and a distinct lack of birdsong. In short, it was somewhat unattractive and impersonal.
Lunch was extremely pleasant, and the benefits of clean air, good food and gentle living appear to have done me good, if my colleagues are to be believed.
But London is dreadfully hard work. I'm a mite slower in relative terms, tourists are harder to negotiate, and it all seems fearfully hectic. Oh yes, there is so much to do, some amazing shopping, culture and 'buzz', but I'm not sure that I miss it so dreadfully.
And that is what I find slightly disconcerting. There is no reason why the city against which the backdrop of my life was set should have accelerated, indeed I'm slightly lighter than I was when I moved my job to Ipswich. I can only imagine that I have adapted to that gentler, somewhat slower lifestyle only too readily. Indeed, it almost feels as though I've gone into semi-retirement but on a full time basis.
I'll be buying tweed jackets with elbow patches next...
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