Hello 40 Something Undomesticated Devil followers and a hello if this is the first blog by me you have read. This is a different style of post by me today as I’m in the mood for a bit of nostalgia. And to be honest, a bit of an understanding from Hubby as to why I love London so much. He hates it you see, more than I hate hoovering (if you’re new, you’ll need to read Not such a devil after all . . . . or am I? And this will explain to you what you need to know).
Hubby hates the smell, the noise, the crowds and the dirt. He also hates the journey and who could blame him when he drives up there for work in West London near Heathrow; 66 miles to be exact and the same back (obviously) and sandwiched in-between is a twelve hour shift. He also says it’s because he’s a Sussex boy and the call from the city never came. He is in fact a Country Bumpkin.
I love London. Unlike Hubby, I was a city dweller until we had to move to the country ourselves but at 18 I was back, living with my grandparents just off the Kings Road! Awesome! I loved it! Paul Young ‘lay his hat’ across the road and I was guilty of running out to meet him for the odd autograph.
But Hubby hates it. Where he sees noise, I see excitement. Where he sees crowds, I see excitement. Where he sees dirt, well I don’t see excitement but I do not see dirt either. And the smells? All those restaurants and markets, the perfume halls, the smell of leather, new books. I could go on. . .
But the real reasons I love London go deeper than the materialism of shopping in a flagship department store. And really there are only certain parts of London I truly love and these are the reasons why.
1. London is in my blood. I was born there in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea I’ll have you know, the same as my Dad, my Nan and my Great Granddad.
2. My mum used to take me to Peter Jones in Sloane Square to get my school shoes. My dad used to take me to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea. My Nan used to take me to Harrods so she could buy her bacon- she swore they sold the best bacon in the world! My Granddad used to take me to the Conservative Club in the Kings Road where a portrait of Maggie loomed. As a teenager, I would hasten into the premises with sideway glances to check no one (anyone) could see me walk in. As a kid, I didn’t care as I sang ‘Save All Your Kisses for Me’ by the Brotherhood of Man and made a small fortune from all the 10pences I was given. Maggie would have been proud of my entrepreneurial spirit.
3. I used to help myself to the sugar cubes on my Dad’s paper stall in the Kings Road opposite Chelsea Town Hall. Chelsea Town Hall was where my Great Granddad used to sit, watching the world go by and chat to the local police officers who then came to his flat for a cuppa. He wanted to be a policeman but couldn’t due to being ‘flat footed’. I must have got it from him (wanting to be a copper, not being flat footed, which I am not) and also in seeing all those policemen and ladies in his flat. He would have been proud of me if he could have seen me at the Passing Out Parade at Hendon as a fully fledged police officer.
4. Walking down the Fulham Road to South Kensington and the long tunnel walk to the museums with mum and seeing the amazing building that is the Natural History museum and being fascinated with the Big Blue Whale more than anything. How simple life was then to please a child. No gadgets, gizmos or fortunes spent. As long as my brother and I saw that Blue Whale, we were made up.
5. Seeing Mary Poppins, Jungle book and Star Wars in the cinema on the Kings Road. Wow! How amazing was Star Wars! Everyone must remember when they saw Star Wars for the first time. I loved Han Solo (and still do). And seeing Punks down the Kings road as they gathered, showing off their plumes of bright pink, green and blue and more zips than a haberdashery.
6. Standing on my Great Granddad’s balcony with my Nan as she pointed to the horizon and talked about it glowing red during the Blitz as the East End was pulverised night after night. She told stories of friends who had perished through a direct hit, how when Sloane Square got hit, the windows in Peter Jones were as good as the day they were put in. The silly rhymes and songs she used to sing to me that I now have passed on to my son. And the hairdresser’s my Nan used to go to every Saturday in Chelsea Manor Street where a lady called Chris with extraordinarily long nails, Hollywood white teeth and Farrar Fawcett hair (well styled like Farrar, but brown) styled my Nan’s hair and always chatted to me. My Nan thought it was hilarious that Chris married a man called Bobby Cross and became Chris Cross. Love it! I never tired of hearing it.
7. How on bath night, my mum would lift the kitchen work top to reveal the bath in our ground floor flat in Chelsea where I shared a bedroom with my brother where I told him I stayed awake all night on Christmas Eve and told him the truth about ‘Father Christmas’ (and got a right telling off for my trouble). And when we had ten pence for sweets and came out with a bag full to bursting of fruit salads, black jacks, shrimps and flying saucers (I know that was the same for you wherever you lived, but this is my blog and to be honest Hubby, Heathfield is not the same as the city).
8. I have taken my son to Stamford Bridge, walking down the Kings Road, sharing with him my family history, showing him St Luke’s where I was christened and used to play in the nearby park where a man called Willy would hang around daily and push us all on the swings. There was the ‘Slide of Death’ too; so high that people were sick when they got to the top, where children were said to have fallen and broken an arm or two. Needless to say, I never went on it, but never saw any of these children wrapped like a Mummy in plaster.
9. Shopping down Kensington High Street when River Island was Chelsea Girl and spending all my hard earned cash on their latesr fashions before hopping on the No 31 bus home. And wehn I was a kid, I wanted to be a bus conductor (Clippies) as well as a police officer as I loved the machine that churned out the tickets, loved the chance to ring that bell and generally meet everyone en route to wehre they needed to be.
10. And then the corner shop in Knightsbridge – the one with the gorgeous green bags, the one all lit up like a Christmas tree and the one that is not Harvey Nicks. It has been a big feature in my life; my Nan’s bacon is where my love affair with the place started. Since then I have taken friends – my Nan let us stay with her for a week or two during the holiday (as when I was 8/9 we moved to Suffolk). How cool to a couple of teenage girls to be just off the Kings Road! But then I got a job at the ‘Corner Shop’ in the late 90’s. Couldn’t believe it. My Nan would have been extremely proud as she loved that place. I really must take after her- she was also rubbish in the kitchen too. I met my now Hubby there, my son got his first haircut there and his first pair of shoes. He also loves it nearly as much as me. And their Danishes are the best ever!
Every time the train pulls in to Victoria, I get a buzz. I see the World’s End Towers in Chelsea where my Nan’s sister still lives, where my son stood on her balcony on the 13th floor recently and looked all across London just like I had done when I was his age and feeling the same sense of awe and excitement. I think he definitely takes after me. He loves the city, is a natural on the tube and takes all the crowds in his stride. And we want to go back for a family day out but Hubby would rather have his ‘teeth pulled.’ So this really is to him, so he understands the pull the city has on me and the thrill it gives me and a reminder of a life I do not want to forget but want to share. So, Hubby, can we go to London please? xx
Love Me xxx