Ah, and so we’re back on British soil. What a glorious evening to fly into London on! Like a blanket of fairy lights, the capital spread out beneath us as we flew in over the city, giving us all of its magnificence in a magical, miniature format that included what seemed like little Lego replicas of the square mile, Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Winter Wonderland that looked every bit as gorgeous as it is on the ground from the skies as our plane turned gently westward and we gazed down on it from above.
Home, sweet home. OMG, London – even after all these years, it’s with a sigh of relief and a blissful smile on my face I touch down at Heathrow returning into your loving arms. How funny it is that home ended up being here, it was never my intention. I left my native Sweden just days after finishing college with the aim of living for a year in an English speaking country to master the English language only to return to Sweden and go to university. Little did I know that London would become ‘home’. I initially had my sights on the US, but figured going somewhere that would only mean a couple of hours on a flight back home in case I missed mummy was a safer option if it all turned bad. 20 years later, I am still here.
It’s like a long marriage, if I think about it. I complain about public transport, all the tourists, the appalling state of healthcare and dentistry, and don’t even get me started on the weather and the food… Yet, it is here I feel at home and at peace. London may not always put the toilet seat down or place its dirty socks in the laundry basket, but it’s with love I gently tut and roll my eyes at her shortcomings, ever forgiving of her flaws. She may not hold the beauty of Paris or even Stockholm, but she is real, she is charming and she knows how to make me laugh. London is so dear to me now, and when B and I talked about the future the other day, I realised just how much.
We talked about where we might live in the future. The obvious answer would have been this patch of London we both adore so much, Chiswick – west London and right on the river Thames. Then we got on to the crazy house prices and what the alternatives would be. We both adore living near the water, be it a river, a lake or the sea. And we decided that Brighton might be an option for us once Monkey’s old enough to get on the train to school on his own and/or choose which parent he’d rather live with. Brighton would be perfect in many ways – by the sea, a fair size (large enough to be bustling, small enough to feel like home – much like Chiswick, actually), it’s a beautiful place and if we ever missed London, she’s only an hour away by train.
Of course, I have thought more about Brighton recently than I otherwise would – Karen and her husband Peter live there, and those are characters I unfortunately have to assassinate now, based on the editor’s feedback. Before that, Karen (not Peter so much – he was only ever a filler) was quite a central character, and therefore I have spent many a moment really visualising her home in Brighton, where Alice goes to get away from it all quite frequently. Now that Karen is being demoted, so is Brighton, but you get my drift. I’ve had Brighton on my mind more than I would have in any other scenario. No big loss though – the story was too crowded, I do absolutely see that, so I have no issue with cutting those things out. So Brighton might just remain this little seaside city that also goes by the nickname ‘Little London’ and the place I may find myself moving to with B when the time is right.
My Alice scarf is miles long now. I had a look at it when we got home earlier and it does need finishing off. I need to end it, it’s probably two metres long and can be wrapped around my neck several times by now. Part of me wants to see it done and then wear it (if I may say so myself, it’s a kickass scarf), another part of me wants to keep it going for those times when I need to just sit and knit and ponder the next part and scene of Alice. This scarf represents the whole novel, my whole journey.
Vanity vs Creativity.