Posted by: Ele Quigan | March 28, 2014

A love letter – Ele Quigan

So today marks a bit of a change on my review blog – a foray into my own writing. Erm feels a bit nerve racking to share with the world, but here goes!



I’ve written a few “Dear John” letters, emails and texts in my life, some with valid reasons, most with not, yet somehow this feels the hardest to write amongst all of them.

We were enemies at first, I hated you from a far, I guess jealous of what you held. I think it was what was in my head I feared most? Some made up idea of what you were, not how you really are. You in your ivory tower of hopes and dreams, of expectations, not something I could grasp, until suddenly I did.

When we met, it was like we’d been friends all along, for some reason the fear dropped. I moved on, you moved on, and we became entwined. I’m struggling to decouple myself from you, I look at myself now, and you’re a part of me. Sometimes I struggle where to see where I end and you begin – you’ve been part of a huge emotional change. A positive one.

Pieces of you reflect in my day to day now, confidence boosted, a slightly more out there attitude, a slightly different approach – I think it was always there underneath, but with you it came out, even my make up is brighter. In time I had hobbies like Roller Derby, I listened to music again, my fashion took a more quirky turn, my attitude brighter, but always with my consistently cynical edge.

It’s funny, how sometimes you’d bring out the most interesting parts of people and culture. Me, who was new and didn’t understand as much of your North/South divide, amused colleagues with fauxpas, assuming one place was another, not understanding the entrenched feelings of bipartisanship with vocal comments from both parties. I’m very much a ‘Norvener’ based on our time together, and if I’m being really honest, I like your East side the most.

Your East side showed me your best side, multicultural, experiential, creative, exciting I can’t put it all into words. The food, the markets, the clubs, the gigs, the independent shops, the walks. I pity those Southerners sometimes, as while a lot of people I know seemed to congregate there, they never realise all you have to offer. Or they just like feeling comfortable. Or like the familiar. Places that don’t change.

The culture you bring crosses borders, crosses languages, brings people together. Over our mutual love of food I’ve found so many new favourites. There are new textures, untranslatable flavours, each spice a new experience – who knew that spice was made to go that way or went so well with that. We’ve been in pop ups, gone back to favourites, experienced all 3 types of stars, we’ve travelled the globe within the central line together. I still can’t pronounce Samphire.

There’s dark sides to you, dark, chilly sides. Faced with an ever entrenched view of concrete coloured sky and listless sun, a sad, depressed cloud comes over you for months at a time. Embittered winds turn my face to my feet, to trudge through this everlasting season – at longest 8 months, at shortest probably 7. Or maybe 6. It’s impossible to be with you when you’re this way. Everyone around you is affected, looking at their own feet (lest they poke out your eye with their slow walk and oversized umbrella). You’re grey to your soul, and when you finally break out, the world is a very different place.

When you’re good – you’re the greatest on earth. You bring out happiness, innate chatter, smiles even. The first time it breaks out, there’s a collective sigh of relief. It’s there, hidden away, under depths of darkness, grey and bad attitudes, and then when you least expect it – suddenly everything changes.

My favourite sign of it are the crocuses. Their purple and yellow nodding heads pop up seemingly out of nowhere. A sign of things to come, the world will be colour again. The endless grey will soon be done, and back to your bright shining self. I’m always inspired to join your crowds in parks with my winter white legs at first sign, another 2 sausages out to bake and burn with all the others. But of course everyone tries this too early, wrapped in blankets in March, it’s never really nice enough till May.

There’s parts of you I’ll never forget, public transport must feel like giving birth every morning with all of us nestled so close, under pressure tightly packed, but no-one speaks. Are these your arteries? Or your soul? It’s where you see a mix of the best and worst. Laughter and tears. Anger, frustration, fear – I’ve seen the bystander effect myself, been handed tissues when in tears, given seats, shared a smile. I still view this with a sense of wonder and amazement – “Where is everyone going?” – “why are they here?” – “why is it silent”. It’s always the same, but never the same. Same time every day, but different people. Whole carriages of unfamiliar faces, same journey different lives. The same journey every day can feel like hours or seconds. I like your Overground parts best.

You’re full of light in the dark, spinning your blue wheel of beauty that’s the background to so many photos, selfies, instagrams. You’re pristine, elegant, modern. This whole skyline thing is an everlasting juxtaposition to your original self and new self. A chameleon. You show your age at the best of these times. And also your pride. Your power and your glory. I could stand upon your bridges and send wishes out forever, and look at your castles watching for princes.

I don’t want to say goodbye. But it’s time.

I love and adore you but our time together must end. It’s too easy to turn alongside you in a whimsical life of something new and different everyday, with days turning into weeks turning into months; it’s been 5 years. I have grey hairs now. I’m too old for the late nights, midweek hangovers, retweets of pop ups, feeling like everything is packed into every week to make sure I don’t miss out.

It’s so easy to fall into a bubble with you – my reality has become something completely different, that the standard life I’m supposed to live (house kids job holiday) is as far away. I see this life through peoples posts on Facebook – it’s never been tangible, updates from other people in a series of words and pictures from a place I’m still not sure that I belong, I’ve never yearned for that; but now it’s time to join them.

I won’t miss your dark moods, specially the ones that start at 3:30pm during the worst of times. I wont miss your concrete, your weird mixture at times of both silence and noise. But I will miss you more than you’ll ever know. Like I said at the start, you’ll always be a part of me now, I’ll often reminisce. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be back – but I hope to. To see where you’ve grown, changed, but mostly to see how you’re exactly the same.

London, I love you, but now it’s time to go.


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