They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well this summer I’ve been able to put that old maxim to the test by spending almost two solid months away from our bustling capital city.
And to add weight to my little experiment, I’ve spent the bulk of it in a tiny village in rural Cambridgeshire, about as far removed from city living as one can get.
So what have I learnt?
Well, first off I’ve learnt that it’s nice to take a break from the Big Smoke once in a while. London seems to have this uncanny knack of ensuring its inhabitants live at 100mph, dashing from place to place and person to person, with little time for reflection.
Then there’s the fact that in London you’ve got to travel way further than you would anywhere else to get anywhere. In Cambridgeshire, evening entertainment doesn’t often involve a two-hour round trip on a train; in London, I do that at least a couple of times a week – and I don’t think I’m the only one.
So why do we subject ourselves to London’s relentless rhythm?
Well, I guess it’s because there’s just so much going on. Almost everyone seems to live here, for starters, so there will always be a birthday bash, engagement do or house warming around the corner. And even if there isn’t, it feels illogical to do nothing while living in a city where so much is happening.
On my first week back in town, I spent one evening in Soho’s Phoenix Theatre, watching the superb musical adaptation of Once, and whizzed back to central the very next evening for something completely different, but equally engaging – a documentary in Bloomsbury’s Curzon Renoir about the failings of US missionaries in Africa.
Next week I’ll be playing in a football tournament one day and cycling to Paris the next.
These kinds of events do exist elsewhere, but not with nearly the same regularity. It’s as if London lifts us to live on higher plains, with higher ideals. And yes, it can be completely exhausting, but it’s also a whole lot of fun.
As much as I will miss the peace and quiet of country life, where sitting down with a good book has been the extent of my evening’s activity, I’m not sure how much more of it I could take. This life’s for living and London is surely one of the world’s best places for making sure one does just that.
Image by Zohar Manor-Abel courtesy of Flickr