Think back on the last 15 years of your life. How would you summarize your life in just 10 bullet points?
Wow, so 18 to now in 10 steps. In no particular order.
1) Music music music. Really if I had put all the money that I’ve spent on gigs, records, festivals, instruments, sheet music and accoutrements in a big ass jar, I would be the owner of housing in London. Maybe.
The alternate side to that is I probably wouldn’t be interesting enough to have aspired to housing in London if I’d done that.
I’d also not have to have grown up in my household with my music loving papa and tone deaf mother. But there we go.
This included 2 Glastonbury Fests, 1 Reading, 1 End of the Road and a host of smaller local type events, endless gigs of the great and good and small and obscure, singalongs around the ole Johanna, a year of flute lessons at a conservatoire in France (more of a Saturday hobby thing) and muchos horas in guitar school, sadly more talking the talk than strumming the strum but gimme the next 15 years and I’ll sort it (there’s nowt more appealing to the record buying public than an aging country rocker, surely?)
2) Books books books. I could actually construct myself a house out of the books I’ve bought and read in that period too. A large chunk of time has been spent in various libraries too and I’m a big believer in the library system. I even worked in one a few summers, an education library full of stuff for schools ,which was utterly rocking bird.
Hey, both of those could be seen as interacting with the worlds of others, no?
3) Europe. Not the hair band, 18 was a few years to late for that but I have lived in both France and Germany during that time and travelled about a bit around continental Europe too.
*I was a teacher in Lille.
*I lived in a chateau in Normandy.
*I ran a camp site in Le Havre.
*I have taken the Portsmouth to Caen ferry a bunch of times. Generally with more school children than you can imagine in tow.
*I have holidayed in Benidorm. For those in the know, Sticky Vicki did feature one evening
I have always felt more European than British, which makes me a pretentious git, no doubt about it.
I like the fact that I have a knack for languages when most of my UK brethren are cowering behind the door when it comes to struggling with our own punctuation
(beware, apostrophe abusers, come the revolution, you will be reduced to ashes)
(Yes, there really is NO ‘a’ in ‘definitely’. I checked. You are indeed both saying and spelling it wrong. I realise that I type this from a spelling glass house but that’s spontaneity in blogging, not genuine faith in lousy spelling).
I like the Mediterranean attitude (I confess, I always let spell checker do that word. I want to double the t and not the r even though I know that’s wrong) to a lot of things.
I like kissing hello and good bye two or three times and all that hugging.
I like the café culture, although we are appropriating that a bit.
I like the boulevard streets and the production that is eating and meeting (and, as established) greeting.
Lately though, I’ve been happier to be a British European.
Well, perhaps a Nottinghamshire European. I am fierce about my county.
But not to the extent that I support the football team.
In that respect, I’m pure Arsenal. So perhaps I’m ‘origin’ bi polar. Can you be that? Are there pills? If so, keep ‘em away, I’m doing fine with my London/Notts dichotomy. Although I do also feel like i'm an honourary Quebecoise. But that again is pure pretention.
3) Family. We’re a party of 3. Healthwise, over the last 5 years, things have gone a bit squiffy, but La Famille is key. The rock. The foundation. Fairly supportive. Pretty non-judgemental. Really funny. Rather fun. Other families are available. But I’ll take mine please. Even though in the immediate, it’s rather wee. And we’re currently dealing with a bit of a memory problem. I am the last dragon, as it were.
That’s why, should Mister ‘I’m going to age in a hip way like Paul Well, have solid music taste, a naughty face and retain my own hair’ come along, he will have the high prestigious honour of becoming Mr F. My name stays.
You have to take it.
Any spawn are having it.
As will all pets.
4) Amigos, Muchachos, Amies, Freunde, Fiends, Sinners, my fellow travellers. To return, as I often do, to Ani di Franco:
Strangers are excitingAnd their mystery never endsBut there’s nothing like looking at your own historyIn the faces of your friends
I find this to be true. And I am blessed with a large heap of fabulous people.
5) My bottom. Yes, it’s been following me around all this time. Basically in the guise of large. Occasionally in the guise of toned.
It is the cross I have to bare, I mean bear.
That said, it has given sterling service in many areas, not least how excellent I am at sitting on it.
It has also, of late, been a source of spectating pleasure to some of my colleagues from around the world. I don’t do anything to it to engender this, it’s just that baby’s got back and they are likers of ‘bumpers’. So there we go.
You might think that I covered this enough in the Europe thing but really, London is to me what New York is Carrie, to try and convey it.
This September I’ll have been here a decade and I’m considering a party. Me. A Party.
I didn’t even celebrate my 18th with a party.
Or my 21st with a party.
Or my 30th with a party (although there were lots of cakes in a variety of splendid Canadian cities and I was in Montreal on the day itself so that sort of counts).
But 10 years in the Smoke seems worthy.
And what a beautiful monster this city is. A tempestuous beauty, with hidden nooks and crannies and more green spaces than folk from the provinces would have you believe.
I like to meander through the hustle and the bustle and observe.
And if I ever think I may have had just about enough, crossing Hungerford Bridge and siddling along the South Bank and gazing back at Big Ben makes me think again.
Riding the bus a lot more this year has been immensely satisfying in the ‘London is beautiful’ stakes. So yeah.
I love Paris, Vancouver and Barcelona are definitely places I could live. New York pushed my buttons. Seattle had an undeniable appeal and being a Lille dweller was mighty fine but this is home. Montreal was like a favourite pair of boots and Quebec City has a certain charm.
*nb I do know there are many flaws to my fabulous city.
The expense, the rudeness, the sudden knife culture, the tourists that stop unexpectedly on the pavements, the ludicrous traffic problems and tendancy for whole miles of road to be up at once causing chaos to riders and pedestrians all at once, but then there’s the British Museum and Tate Modern and British Library and the Thames and the National Gallery and Covent Garden and Hampstead and the Heath and the posh French café up the road, and lolling about in Vicki Park and the bazillion music venues. And the ten zillion restaurants.
6) Getting out of my 20s. Evidently this is only covered by some of the years above but still. I was pretty sorted at 18. More sorted than I knew. Then I went off for a bit and found a lot of people who were much less sorted in many ways and kind of undermined myself and got a bit lost for a while. I spent the later part of my 20s working my way back to the sense of self I had when I was 18, which had seemed a little annoyingly pointless but I guess the earned version is actually much better than the innate version, or so I attempt to console myself. I have however recently come to terms with my own hitherto unacknowledged control freak-ery. Who knew? Everyone close but me, it would seem. I am a ludicrous mixture of pretty laid backness and exacting standards. I’m pretty much passionate about everything. Whatever blows your hair back, I’d like to know. For or against. Or both. With equal ferocity. A girl I once worked with asked for me not to be assigned to her on a client team years ago: ‘Emma is very inappropriate’. I think I’d like that as my epitaph, along with ‘why is everything always on the same day?’ But anyway, the 20s were fun but quite a big undertaking emotionally. Coming out the other side and putting a lot of the fears and concerns once held so dear aside for good has been a definite plus.
HEY REVIEWING THIS I REALISE THAT MY COUNTING TOTALLY WENT KABLOOIE... doh