Thursday, 21 July 2011

The University of Life - in London

Those of you out there with keen observational skills will see it’s been well over a week since I last blogged. Apologies about that, but this weekend was pretty manic and I have spent the rest of this week catching up with myself. On Friday evening I saw my old favourite Derren Brown in his new show Svengali – as always a fascinating night, and thankfully I didn’t end up on stage this time. Then on Saturday I trained it up to Stoke-on-Trent to go to good old Keele University for its “Homecoming”. Needless to say, I had a good time – a “spooky” tour of the old hall, burger and chips in the Sneyd Arms, two hours of pool followed by a boogie on the dance floor. Needless to say a lot of alcohol was consumed by all but I am pleased to announce that it was I who was holding someone else’s hair back on this occasion.
It was just like old times. And good times, too.
Funnily enough I didn’t really see anyone who I hadn’t stayed in touch with, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter. Whilst sitting down after another game of pool (I haven’t lost it!) I chatted to a girl who lived in my halls in the first year. We had recently got in touch again over the medium of Facebook and were soon chatting about our fellow Freshers from all those years ago. She too had noticed not a lot of people had turned up. We mulled this one over as we nursed our pints and came to the conclusion that the people who had come back had not returned to brag about their £100,000 salary, penthouse on the Thames and beautiful beau. The people who came back were good time people. Okay, they might not have set the world alight (yet) but they were happy.
This naturally made me think about the past ten years since I graduated. I moved to London the weekend after the ceremony and haven’t left the city since. I look back at the 21 year old walking into her first full-time job and there are parts of her that I hardly recognise. She is so naive, almost timid and a little bit lost. She has little confidence and is still licking her wounds after the ending of some pretty painful relationships.
It may sound corny, but London has certainly shaped that young woman who, quite frankly, didn’t really have a clue. Moving to a city where she only knew a couple of people made her crawl out of her shell and rebuild her social life. She met new people from every walk of life and saw the world from dozens of new perspectives. Nurturing those relationships that were supportive and based on mutual respect and love enabled her to develop a supportive social network.
Working with vulnerable adults forced her to be strong, to be confident. Her work with those who have found themselves addicted, homeless or on the wrong side of the law has opened her eyes to a side of society that she had never seen before, only read about in the papers. And the buzz of London drew out her curiosity and her desire to learn.
So, has she set the world alight? Maybe not. She never did do that MA in Art Therapy and although her salary is respectable, she still isn’t on the property ladder or bought her first car. But she has been infected by the energy around her. She is exploring her creativity and grabbing any opportunities that come her way. She is still meeting new people and going to new places. Okay, so there have been rocky patches, but she is feeling optimistic. Her life isn’t perfect, but it is headed in the right direction.
And that’s enough to keep her dancing.


  1. This is a great post - a loving tribute to London and how it shapes all those of us crazy enough to move here in the great post-uni migration. May you continue to appreciate the symbiotic relationship!

  2. It is amazing how you think you have a plan and life comes along and changes it - the Chaos Theory in action. Human being do rise to the occasion most of the time...which always give me hope - thank you for a great blog

  3. I have read most of your blog posts and I would like to tell you how useful they are not only for me but for all of your readers.

  4. Another Northerner moaning about how much they hate London. Northerners never fit in down here. Why don't you go back up North with your flat cap and drink bitter with your whippet. Either that or toughen up and stop moaning. Dumb girl.

  5. Hi Anonymous. Have you actually read my blog or even the post above? Sorry to say that your comment would suggest otherwise...
    Dumb girl.