Coming Back To London
Summer’s end saw me selling my house in France and moving back to London. I’ll miss many things, but one of them won’t be the culture shock of arriving back in King’s Cross.
On my last return I bade farewell to my happy, healthy summer pals and dressed in grey once more. I spent several lifespans at airport check-in behind a sunburned hulk in a sleeveless top as he tried to blag his way on board with hand luggage the size of a desk.
I was served by an Easyjet trollista who had clearly decided to abandon his actual job (dispensing nuts and holding up tuna baps) for a career as a comedian.
I disembarked behind a girl who urgently needed to call someone on her mobile and discuss makeup purchases before the plane had finished taxiing to a stop.
I arrived in Luton needing a pint of milk and some teabags, to find twenty drunks returning from a stag weekend in Latvia queuing to buy porn mags in the only open shop. For reasons known only to themselves had chosen to dress as Vikings, although some were wearing grass hula skirts.
I sat in a train carriage that looked like it had been used to ferry incontinent survivors from a major disaster area, and rubbed grit from my eyes as Kestrel cans rolled across the aisle. At West Hampstead, several teenagers who appeared to be sartorially trapped in the Ali G era boarded the train with their own sound systems. Next to me, an American couple clutched their bags and peered anxiously through the graffiti, searching the dim platforms for signage.
At the King’s Cross platform, two inebriated gentlemen of the road were singing an Arctic Monkeys cover into Budweiser bottles. Outside, everything looked like it had been sprayed in wet dust. Someone was slumped over an illuminated traffic island bollard being sick. Several hundred people who had been held captive in the Egg nightclub over the holiday weekend were weaving their shell-shocked way towards the tube. That Austrian girl who’d been locked in a cellar for ten years had looked healthier. I joined a troop of bag-dragging tourists and waded waist-deep through flyers and beer cans until I reached my front door, where someone was having a pee.
The upside to this miserable London welcome was that I’d missed the whole of Big Brother. It’s great to be back.