So this was my personal “farewell” to London. I’ve had ample time to reflect on this topic, as the streams of geography and psychogeography wash over me and I prepare to go to Merrimoles for what will probably be a last visit.
London, of course, isn’t going anywhere: but I am certainly not expecting to be here again anywhere near as often as is currently the case.
It is not going to be possible to see everything, say a personal goodbye to all the different corners and roundabouts that have marked the paths trodden during 18 years in and around London, but I will try to visit the nodes, those points where the energy and the intersection of energy lines flows strongest.
For my interest in cities and urban life London has always served as the epitome, the example I hold up against the light whenever I am contrasting any other town or city in its light (for better or for worse). It has shaped my feeling things as diverse as weather and culture: the ever-changing seasons, spring and autumn in London, music (Royal Festival Hall), art (Tate Modern), the breeze driving in from the sea (the Thames). In all these things and many more, London as a geographical entity was intimately involved: perhaps because of the people it draws in, its multicultural nature, its location and island home, or simply because all the things that interconnect within me are also somehow interconnected within this urban conglomeration of Londinium.
London is, moreover, a powerful magnet: for most of my 18 years in the UK I did not live in London, but at what might be called London’s periphery, assuming that the focus is all. The focus, of course, in many ways was the family home: and a big part of my farewell will necessarily revolve around the center as seen from the perspective of Gerrards Cross and the years spent there. Walks in Cliveden and Kew, sports both in GX and in the satellite competitor towns spread around South Bucks, visits to friends’ houses in Amersham, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Missenden, and frequent mixed-bag days in Eton and Windsor.
Because although London beckons, it is these outlying fields that I should spend contemplating, since they are the least likely places to see me again soon. London will remain London, much as a broom remains a broom, no matter how many times the handle and the head are exchanged. The river will still be there, as will the Tower and the Houses of Parliament, and visits to Great Britain will inevitably focus on the great city itself, rather than the Home Counties.
So these should be enjoyed and stored in the memories of departure: the difference between city and country is never much larger than traversing these 30 miles across the M25, and both have shaped me and my being in the most formative years of my life.