I must concede that it’s a blessing not to have a regular commute. This is the obvious conclusion of a day out in London, setting off early from home for an appointment at the consulate in Knightsbridge. The Metropolitan Line, as usual, was delayed and slow running due to signal failure at Moorgate, so the journey took nearly two hours door to door.
We used to do this daily years ago, first from West Ealing to Paddington, then this route as far as Baker Street. We couldn’t do it anymore. London now is a place to visit for socialising alone, for momentary pleasure. This visit would be the same. Upon completing the bureaucracy we couldn’t complete in Istanbul three weeks ago, we would at last get to go on our belated anniversary date, enjoying the finest Persian cuisine before our journey home.
London is mostly now there for reminiscing — although I’m not sure I want to be reminded of everything. While recalling the places we went to arrange our marriage, my beloved reminds me that it nearly didn’t happen. I had two ultimatums then — hers and my family’s, and I had to decide where I was going to stand. To stand up for what I wanted, and go ahead, or to abandon the whole thing. I don’t like to think of that time, or the pressure I found myself under.
This city carries a lot of bittersweet memories for me. The student years, stomping around Central London. Finding my faith here, and moving amongst the city’s diverse communities. The early years of marriage in west London. Some peculiar jobs all over the place: that warehouse in Wembley, the internet café in Green Lanes, the restaurant in Mayfair, the patient records department in Marylebone. Times weren’t always easy in those early years.
So let’s reminisce, but not too seriously. Let’s try to remember the good times, the happy moments. I can’t honestly say they were the best of times. No, they were tough. But sometimes you have to go back to remember. Just like that long and boring commute. Thankful to have been reminded of the blessings we now have, not having to spend three hours a day stuck in a rickety, noisy, crowded, delayed tube carriage, leaving early all year around, in freezing fog or sweltering heat, and returning home exhausted with itchy scalp, aching back and black snot. Yes, I recall all of that now.