I've just been back to London for a long weekend, and am trying to untangle my thoughts about being back. I miss London. I miss working on Oxford Circus, having a choice of after work drink venues with friends. I miss the slight superiority you felt about being a 'Londoner' - knowing your way around, having a mental underground map, knowing exactly where to stand on the platform, knowing the quickest way from A to Z. I miss my voluntary work in Soho, I miss Carnaby Street and the South Bank. As I went down into the tube I recognised that hot, slightly underground metallic smell. And the smell brought back many memories of late night London, staying out, coming home, enjoying the feel of being in control in London.
And then I'd forgotten how many people there are in london! So many bodies, so many crowded pavements, and then the telltale signs of impatience and frustration flooded back as I tried to walk faster, overtake people. My feet ached at the end of each day and I could tell that I'd lost my london legs and stamina! And then there were changes. All the redevelopment of Regent Street (and Princes Street / Hanover Street) seems to have been done. The Royal Festival Hall is under wraps, the Nelson Mandela Statue had been moved, which confused my best mate and I, since that is where we were trying to meet on Thursday evening! And then there are small signs, that things have changed since the dreadful events of 7/7. The announcements now warn people about leaving their luggage since this will lead to the station being evacuated. Plus I've never seen so many uniformed police officers patrolling the streets.
I came through City aiport on Thursday, just a few minutes before the memorial at midday. I was just incredibly moved by the 2 minute silence. All the staff from the airport services stood in the councourse, and gradually a deep, deep silence fell. Everyone just sharing the grief of the bombs and their consequences and a nation trying to understand the motivation and thought processes of the young men who murdered so many people.
On Saturday I went to the conference of the organisation I volunteered with for 3 years, and I presented the results of my research. I really miss my work there, and I'm sad that my research phase is coming to an end, even though I'm really ready to finish this stage of my life. I miss my friends there and the organisation so much and I think this contributes to my feeling of insecurity / unease about being in Zurich. I love Zurich as a city, and its got a lot going for it. A and I have a much better quality of life, and more time together, even though I yearn to be in the bustle of London. I sensed after this weekend though, that my unease may well be linked to not yet working in Zurich. I think a lot of our self esteem springs from the work that we do, and the identity that we construct for ourselves through our work. The weekend also helped me in a way to say a more complete goodbye to the London phase of my life, at least for the time being.