London: I’m writing this, sitting by a radiator in the streaming sunshine with a large cup of Earl Grey tea in my hand – yes, I’m back in London.
It’s very cold here, although, disconcertingly, everyone keeps telling me what a lovely warm spell we’re having, which makes me nervous that it might get even colder.
Apart from the cold, tea and radiators, I’m re-experiencing other novelties I’ve missed over the past couple of years, including: drinking water straight from the tap (no purifying tablets needed); putting on a pair of jeans (goodbye hideous action slacks. Actually, a word to would-be fashion designers: take a look at the women’s outdoor/trekking/activity-wear market – you can do better, especially in the travel trekking-pants department); enjoying clean sheets and towels and knowing they are free of bedbugs; listening people talking in a soothing BBC voice on the radio; knowing exactly where I’m sleeping tonight; discovering that the magnolia we planted in the front garden has grown beautiful flowers!
Looking at our small backpacks, it seems incredible that we lived entirely out of their contents for more than 27 months. We’ve started unpacking our stored boxes and I’m astounded by all the stuff we own: so many clothes, shoes, books, plates… Wardrobe decisions alone are clearly going to occupy hours of my day. How do people get anything done when there are so many choices? Luckily we don’t have a TV yet, or I’d be transfixed for hours.
Our street in Lewisham seems fairly unchanged, except for some new fancier cars (are we going up in the world or have the car owners come down?), but Britain has changed in our absence. We have a different government representing us, one that doesn’t care for the poor, elderly, sick or otherwise socially inconvenient.
An organisation that does care [smooth segue!] is the Red Cross, and I’m delighted to add my story to the collection of writers who’ve seen the Red Cross in action. Please consider donating to their vital cause.