It’s not my fault that I spent many formative years growing up in London. So, it’s not my fault that I have a soft spot for the place. Whenever, I hear or see news of events in England, my mind wanders to London. When I hear the events are in London, my mind wanders to the many places I know well. I know London Bridge and Borough Market well: I was there on my last trip to England, and spent a great lunch time with a Bajan friend who works as an Editor for the Financial Times, which is located adjacent to London Bridge. We went for a pub lunch at a spot called ‘The Market Porter‘; it’s menu includes great ales (duh!), and I had a ‘Blue Moon’.
It does great pub grub: I love Cumberland sausage (though I don’t need the poncy marmalade 🙂 ), but the choice had to be the lamb rump. 🙂
I was raised in the west of London, and spent most of my time in London living north (‘norf’) of the river. Borough is on the south (‘sowuf’). My connection with it was through a close friend at school, who grew up in Borough (‘Burra’). I never went there as a boy, but got to know the place later, and it’s now gotten posh. A lot of places that were once the mainstay of ordinary working people, especially the markets and market traders, have had some serious gentrification laid on them (Covent Garden, Smithfield) and become yuppified. But, my urban planning background says that when you put life back into an old area that’s a real plus.
Before meeting my friend, Hal, I had a good wander around Borough Market, looking at the pies, meats and cheese on sale. I have my favourite London spots for getting those things, so was really only having an orgy of deep lust for the things to satisfy my eyes.
Something that many people with stereotyped notions of Britain may not understand is that it’s a place where a lot leisure time is spent outdoors. What? With that s****y weather? Yes! It’s one of life’s great pleasures to lean outside a pub with a pint in your hand and chat the time away. It’s a real pleasure to do that on a day when the sun is out and it’s not raining. Time was pubs were smoky places, so the outside was an escape. Then, with time, landlords made a virtue of that and started to make the outside nicer, and if the pub had a courtyard or garden, better still. Find me somewhere like that for a Sunday roast while I talk rubbish about the football on Saturday. “My round?”
If I’ve appreciated nothing else about my life, it’s embracing the pieces of it that have made me whole–who I am.
When people hear me speak they’re more likely to nickname me ‘Englishman’ than ‘Yardie’. I don’t have a problem with that, in the same way that I would not deny that I speak with a posher accent because I went to school in Westminster. I like tea, and scones, and fish and chips, and beer at room temperature. I’ve made sure my Caribbean wife and my children from all parts also appreciate these things, as much as the access to fine art culture that oozes all over a place like London. We’ve learned to enjoy afternoon tea off Oxford Street; to shop in Bond Street; to gawp at Buckingham Palace; to love The Tube; to jump on a red bus; to marvel at The Thames.
London is in my soul, so when it and its people are attacked, I feel that to my core. I hurt deeply to think of the carnage on London Bridge and Borough Market. I know I will be there again soon to let my soul heal.