I’ve lived here all my life. Sometimes a neutral-sounding sentence can shake us awake from a long-held, misconceptions. This Sainsbury’s, across Holborn Station in London’s West End, sits almost in the middle of a tourist hub. Souvenir-chasers go through here en route somewhere else. Like me, who has just momentarily stopped to buy a bottle of water – the frozen one I took with me from home this morning having been emptied around Kensington and Chelsea – plenty of visitors navigate through this urban jungle to go to Covent Garden or the British Museum.
I’ve lived here all my life. For some stupid reason I have always seen W1, WC2, SW1 and SE1 as tourist hotspots first and foremost. Hotels, museums, restaurants, cinemas and theatres. You spot the famous landmark and take a selfie in front of it. Places you visit and then come back home. Wherever that home may be. London or abroad. The capital or Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton or another major city. Perhaps a little town. Anything except for “I’ve lived here all my life”. I forget that beyond the wide and populous Southampton Row there are roads on which people live. People who have neighbours. Neighbours who might or might not have children and even grandchildren. Children who go to local schools. In short, despite tourism and rising rents, there is normal life in central London.
Walking-stick man and I joke a bit more. The new season of the English Premier League has just got under way and there is much to look forward to. He praises Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho and I return the favour by bigging up Tottenham Hotspurs’ young and promising Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino. I come out of the supermarket, get on my bike and stop to think for a moment that sometimes all it takes is a neutral-sounding sentence to shakes us up a bit. Even if it means accepting another reality.
|Covent Garden: I'm sure that there is normal life beyond these streets|
Next Post: “Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music… Ad Infinitum”, to be published on Tuesday 1st March at 6pm (GMT)