Today I was sitting in one of my favourite local cafes and what with it being the end of year and all, I got a bit reflective. I always do this; something about this time when one year of life is coming to an end and another about to kick off just makes me get all pensive. So, in this reflective spirit, I did what I do best and I started writing. What I was doing, what I was seeing and what I was thinking as I sat and drunk what was probably my last cafe coffee of the year. And, because it's me, I've shared this with you below. A bit waffly but then, that's me in a nutshell, isn't it?
So I'm sitting in the corner of this little cafe in Clapham watching the traffic roll by and the tiny children in comically large winter hats – that adorable kind with ear flaps – being dragged along by their mothers. Then this song comes on... Why do I always forget John Mayer when recalling the Music I Like? Freaking John Mayer, you know? That voice. My coffee arrives in the hands of the barista who literally has to push his way through the tight crowd which has appeared out of nowhere. A crema like you have never seen. Who said you can't find good coffee in London? Just need to know where to look. I was at my sister’s last night and well into today and left without coffee (my choice, a crazy one, not for lack of offers on her part) so this is my first of the day and appreciated just as much as you would imagine.
Looking around the cafe a thought comes to me - this was the first cafe I came to in London, a year ago now. Seeing the wrapped up people and naked trees out the window, this is the London I arrived to. It has all come full circle and that fills me with a whole lot of mixed emotions, but I won’t get into all those just at the minute. We’d be here for days.
There is something special about living in a city such as London, one of the world's most famous, most historically significant. Last week we did one of those walks from our ‘London’s Hidden Walks' book – a book all Kiwis living in London should own and exploit – this time through Soho, opening my eyes to the streets I walk down every day. I only went a few blocks, and in that short time I discovered that Karl Marx lived some of his most impoverished days in a basic old building on Dean Street. And that second floor window in Soho Square was Paul McCartney’s office in the 1970s. A humble window in Frith Street was the back drop to the first ever televised broadcast in 1925. Another house on the street was the residence of child prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the mid 19760s. That bar we went into after our walk is where French revolutionaries met during World War II under Charles de Gaulle. These streets have been lived on, really lived on, you know? And I am a new person living my life - or part of it - on them. That's pretty cool. I am one in a long line of people – famous, yes, but also unknown, yet no less important; privileged, disadvantaged, progressive, backward and so many other types of people who have lived in this city. There will be so many after me, as there have been before me, but I'm here now and I'm fucking loving it. London baby. (Did anyone else hear that in Joey Tribbiani’s voice?)
Oh this song that just came on that is one of my favourites, except I had forgotten it until just now. What's it called? It's one of those songs that entirely capture a time of my life – you know when songs do that? Isn't that a pretty powerful thing, for a song to take you back in time, evoke nostalgia for something in the past? The nineties, the glory days. God, I've become one of those people who reminisce about "the good old days... a simpler time." What's it called? Collide! By Howie Day. That's it. Oh. One of the staff just complained that they always play "fucking James Blunt all day long" and changed the song. Ironically from Howie Day to an actual James Blunt song. Funny how something so good and lovely for one person can be something so repulsive to someone else. This is what I mean, you know? We are all so different, and all these differences combine to make the lives we live unique; taking us to different places, introducing us to different people. It doesn't mean any one life is better than the other, but we really should embrace the things that make us unique. I straight up love Collide by Howie Day. I walk the same streets that Karl Marx and Mozart walked and I do my thing, live my life in a way I hope is meaningful and significant to someone other than just myself while I am here.
Oh they've now changed the song again, but to Bohemian Rhapsody which I don’t think anyone – no matter how different we all are – could say is bad. Nope, changed that almost instantly, wow. I don't even know anymore. I think it may be time for me to go home and play my own records where I can listen to a song in its entirety. I might actually listen to Queen. I'm going to walk home through the Common which by now properly feels like home and enjoy these last days of 2015. I've finished my coffee and one of the mothers with comically overdressed toddlers (it really is not a cold winter) has come in – I’ll give her my seat. Signing out.