Well…it’s happening. I’m doing it. Going on an adventure and living the dream…my dream. And what a surprise it was for me to discover my dream contained a screaming baby with the lung capacity of a young Ethel Merman and a seat-mate whose cough was so horrid, she might actually be patient zero of a new, as-yet-undiagnosed consumptive plague.
Before I become patient one, let’s clear up this aforementioned dream business. It’s a simple one but don’t let that fool you, given it’s not exactly a small thing. Here’s the thing, ever since I was a wee one, I’ve always wanted to live in London. England, not Ontario. Obviously. And to be fair to the above vocal twosome, I never really nailed down the “getting there” part so perhaps my Air Canada flight buddies were meant to be a part of my new adventure from the get-go.
My first glimpse of the city came probably via Mary Poppins around the tender age of 3 and, not to put too fine a point on it, it was love at first sight. Yes…technically my toddler self fell head over heels for a Disney-fied city replicated on a sound stage in Burbank but that didn’t stop the surge of affection for a place I’d never been. I wanted to sit on the steps of St. Paul feeding the birds, stand on a street corner and watch the Pearly Kings and Queens, dance with chimney sweeps near the Bow Bells, and march with the Suffragettes down the Mall. My love for London only grew over the years that followed, largely due to the influence of PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! (I’m looking at you, Granada “Sherlock”), but with the occasional film making my London lust ratchet up a few more notches. And with each glimpse of the city and with each consequent in-person visit, my yen to make London my home became an all-out distraction.
So when life threw me a curveball in the form of a “downsized” job and a generous severance package, I thought ‘why not make some lemon squash out of those lemons?’ And yes, I occasionally think in “British.” So I carpe’d that diem and two months later, I was on a flight headed to Heathrow and my new, temporary Hampstead home. Unless, of course, Border Security decided they don’t like the look of me.
But I made it through that interminable line with few questions and no invasive searches and eventually, after the conveyer belt coughed up my luggage, claimed my not-unreasonable amounts of baggage. One relatively quick car ride later and I found myself ensconced in my cozy north London flat alongside my stellar new flatmate…and my musical next door neighbours. I feel a bit like Paul Varjak arriving at his brownstone apartment for the first time in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…a little bemused by all the surround characters, including our neighbours to the south have been playing scales on their piano for about an hour. And they’re really good! Should I break out my vocal exercises? La, la, la, LA, la, la, la.
Things I’ve learned since arriving? Chris Martin used to let the top floor flat here…before he consciously coupled then uncoupled from GOOP. Benedict Cumberbatch apparently lives nearby (where, one must assume, he’ll be nesting post-Oscar season), as does Helena Bonham Carter and a few others. Could the following months bring about brushes with fame? Doubtful but I’ll do my best not to look like a vagrant when leaving the house just in case.
But for now my bags are unpacked, my requisite cup of tea has been drunk, my John Lewis order of pillows, duvet and towels arrived on time and my room is put together. Clearly there is only one way to celebrate! By passing out, face first, into said duvet for a jet-laggy sleep.
Day One looks to be a resounding success.
So while I have a grand liedown, I suggest you check out this little ditty of a song I’ve appointed the official theme of my mad London endeavour: