Friday, August 10, 2012


Something strange has happened since I left London nearly 6 years ago.

London suddenly got friendlier, buildings got finished and people starting smiling. 

It was a delight going back for a few days earlier this week. 

It may be that the Olympics are currently on, which could explain a lot of the happy shiny people.

Or it may be that I'm not bogged down by the rat race like I was back then, working solidly, stressed and fearful. I now look at people less suspiciously and smile automatically, no more hiding away for me.

What I forgot about London was the noise. Not just the hussle and bustle but the general ambient noise from traffic and airplanes flying overhead constantly. This kept me awake at night, as my norm these days is Irish country quiet and double glazed windows. I never used to hear it in London and nothing prepares you for the shock of it again after a long break. 

How strange that I never noticed it before. 

What I found unsettling about London was the masses of people wearing purple and orange Team London uniforms, or any uniforms for the matter. In my absence, everything seems to have gone a little bit more American ( or was this just for the Olympics? ), the tube now has Team Transport helpers, even Pret a Manger now has Team Pret Tshirts! Dear or dear!

Then there's the army everywhere - it's like a military invasion surrounded by bright colours and corporate sponsorship. I met an 18-year-old army female cadet guarding an Olympic venue saying this was her first assignment and that her mum was relieved she wasn't being sent to Afghanistan. 

There just seemed to be a lot of "helpers" standing around, sudden crowds of people, too many long diversions in order to control the sheep ( sorry crowds ) and a lot of helicopters overhead. Oh and loads of people cycling around on hideously clunky bluey grey bikes cynically called 'Boris Bikes'.

I couldn't get near the Olympic stadium/village - and I almost missed my return plane to Ireland trying!

As close as I got!

When I left, London had just won the bid for the Olympics and no one thought the city would ever deliver on time, no matter organise such a massive event. But by BeJeesus, they seem to have done it, with military precision and millions of Team helpers. 

But MY, HOW YOU HAVE CHANGED London. You used to be about the coolness. 

I just can't decide if this is good or bad - but then that is not for me to decide anymore. 


Unknown said...

It's good and bad to go back isn't it? We must've left at about the same time. I know what you mean about it being different but I think it's probably temporary and the effect of being tourist not resident. I was the opposite but we were there just before complete chaos - I was really sad and homesick not to quite be a part of the fun in my home town I don't think I'm over the homesickness yet and it'll be a long time until we visit again :(

Tree said...

Hi Emily, thanks for your comment, yeah this all could be a temporary blip in London's general malaise, who knows. Where do you live now? x