I’m not the first person to move to London to seek their fortune, and I certainly won’t be the last. Ever since Dick Whittington slung his posessions over his shoulder and made for the streets paved with gold, people have flocked to this city.
The fortune I’ve come for is not necessarily monetary – though as any struggling creative-type will tell you, a little of that wouldn’t go amiss – rather, I’m in search of new opportunities. London has more of, well, everything, than anywhere else in the country. More variety, more noise. It has history in spades, sitting comfortably alongside the fast-paced, glass-fronted modernity.I love walking through London, discovering hidden corners just off streets I know well, finding places of peace in the busy centre, or searching out a busy hub. Funnily enough, it’s the latter I seek to write – there is something about a hum of background noise and a creative venue which seems to help me focus.
My favourite place of all to write is the Southbank Centre, and in fact, that’s where I am now, working to the sound of chatter in a dozen different languages, occasionally looking up to see how the setting-up of a Mexican fair is coming along, just below me in the Clore Ballroom. A couple of men are sawing and nailing pieces of wood together, and a Spanish-speaking contingent has arrived to direct proceedings. It’s raining outside, so the bright lights and warmth are attracting passers-by like bees to a honey-pot. Still, the vastness of the place swallows them up, and I can sit here for as long as I like, undisturbed and unhurried, supplementing my green tea with a free glass of water.
Unusually, I am feeling a little out of my depth here, but that might be because I decided a week ago to move to London, jobless and homeless. And that appears to be what I’ve actually done. Fortunately, I have lovely friends who are putting me up, and the search for a nice place to live, somewhere I can really call home, has fortunately gone more smoothly than I thought possible.
So now, the focus has become the job. And in the midst of my frantic hunt, I have realised something which long ago should have been obvious, but which I didn’t have the courage to admit. It all comes back to being here, in the Southbank Centre. I want to be a writer. It is such a simple statement, but as I have been to interviews and registered with agencies, propelled forward by the sight of the Big Issue sellers on so many of London’s streets and an urgent desire not to join their ranks, something inside me has resisted, protested, cried out that it is all wrong. I want to write.I have never been more grateful to have a blog – and though this post is incredibly introspective and not particularly travel-related, other than the vague London theme – to have a place to write is so very valuable to me. Even if it doesn’t pay the rent at the moment, Even if I have to do something else to pay the bills for a while, I have found my calling. On paper, on screen, wherever, I just need to write.
London, as a place to be and write, serves my needs particularly well. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, whether this city will settle my nomadic instincts for a while (I doubt anything could do that, really), whether I’ll find the fortune I seek, but I do know that I feel at home here. Whatever happens, I have discovered what it is I really love doing, and I am going to follow this dream with all the determination I possess.