Still half at home

A few stories from the last week:

I got talking to a Balinese man today after he heard my accent.

He used to live in Camden, on Kentish Town Road. He misses London, he told me. He’s going back around Christmas. Then I found out he moved to Sweden in 1997. I guess for some people it never goes away.

Coincidentally, I met another former Camden dweller – this one born and bred – last weekend.

We met at a social meetup organised online, attended mostly by non-Swedes. She moved to Uppsala a year ago and we spoke about some of the differences between the two countries and cities. I commented on how quiet people are with each other here, how little chatter there is compared to the UK but especially to London. I miss it already, the constant and needless repetition:

“This train is now ready to depart, please mind the closing doors, the doors are closing, mind the doors, doors are closing, mind the doors.”

Tonight I went to the book discussion group at the English Bookshop.

We had read ‘We are all completely beside ourselves’ by Karen Joy Fowler. Before the discussion started one of the attendees, a psychology professor in her sixties, was looking at the quotes from reviews on the cover and scoffed at the attribution of one of them to Stylist. It was like hearing a member of my family attacked.

I started to explain what Stylist is but the title was clearly a barrier. “So it’s a fashion magazine?” By the time I’d got to explaining the Book Wars feature I think she had just about accepted its legitimacy. I was a bit surprised how protective I felt, how territorial.

I’ve been here two and a half weeks; I guess it’s not really surprising a large part of me feels like London is still home. But after all the memorable moments there, it’s kind of funny that what makes me homesick is the thought of standing on the tube platform, Stylist in hand, chattery announcements filling my ears. Please let other passengers off the train before boarding, let other people off the train first, this train is now ready to depart, mind the doors, doors are closing, mind the doors…

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